Accessiblity. how accessible are you?

Accessibility is important to any business. This blog addresses a few things you need to consider when setting up your website so that more people can connect with you. We all like to think of ourselves as being accessible. Are we really?

What is accessibility?

There are many types of challenges that in past years would have been very difficult to overcome.

When I was a kid, computers didn’t exist and most people thought being accessible meant getting a wheel chair through the door. We have matured and learned there were far more barriers than just doors and desks. This discussion is about making your online presence accessible. What are some of the barriers?

  • Hearing impaired.
  • Visually impaired.
  • Colour blindness.
  • Language.

Anything that makes it difficult to access your business is a barrier!

Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test his character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln

Accessibility Tips and Tools

Hearing Impaired

When you are building your web page or doing a blog, it’s very tempting and even beneficial to add video and or audio to your site. Let’s say I’m hearing impaired. Did you add something that I can see and understand? Your audio recording describing the pictures or your video recording that contains all of the important information are useless to me. You might consider adding text or at least link to a transcription if you want me to consider your business.

Visually Impaired

Did you realize that blind people often use computers and browse the web? Many use software like NV Access to read web sites and electronic documents. Keep in mind that it is rather fast and monotone.

Think carefully about your language and be very careful with fonts, colours and sizes. Stick to sans serif fonts like Verdana or Arial so that the reader doesn’t become confused. Keep the language simple. Keep in mind that simple doesn’t mean dumbed down. Don’t be insulting.

Test your stuff with NV Access!

Colour Blindness

Sorry guys but more men than women are colour blind. You need to consider font size, colour and contrast. For example, light blue on a dark blue may be hard to differentiate for someone who is colour blind. Green on white is often very difficult. By the same token, true black on white can cause problems for some. I would recommend using something like WordPress to help minimize issues. Many templates have already been tested for proper colours and contrast. Why do more work than you have too?!

University of Minnesota has a good site with great tips. Check it out!

Language

There are a few things to consider regarding language.

  • Your reader may not use english as their first language.
  • Clients and prospects may come from all walks of life and experience.
  • Tone

When it comes to English, I consider my skills rather strong. That’s the problem! It’s hard to resist being overly verbose and using superfluous words. Translation: It’s very hard to resist using too many words that aren’t needed or are too fancy.

Resources

Here are some great resources to help you make your site and documents accessible:

  1. NV Access, a program to read electronic documents and web pages.
  2. WAVE, to read your web site and identify accessibility issues.
  3. WebAIM, a site with great advice on writing clearly and simply.
  4. Colour Blind Awareness, a site with a great explanation of challenges with colour.
  5. University of Minnesota has a great site with advice on font size and colour.

I am not perfect. Far from it but writing this helps me to focus on improving accessibility for my readers. I hope that by sharing this, I can help others who don’t know where to start.

How are you doing with accessibility?

Please share if you find this helpful and I would appreciate comments if you have suggestions for improvement.

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for people who care enough to share resources. I’m thankful for templates that help speed up the process. I’m thankful for GVO tools!

What are you thankful for today?

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