Improving digital accessibility for people with disabilities has been a hot topic for several years now but it is more of a revolution than a fad. Smart business owners have recognised the legal, financial, and ethical reasons for improving access and we are now witnessing changes in the way websites are built, presented, and optimised.
Here are some ways you can assist disabled website visitors in 2021 and beyond…
Fix Alt Text
Let’s start with a basic way you can help improve the accessibility of your website.
Alt text – the words or phrases contained within your website code which describe images, should be optimised. That may be something SEO experts have been talking about for years, but it’s incredibly important there is a balance between optimising for search results and describing images to help disabled website visitors.
Screen readers used by some visually impaired people read image alt text aloud, meaning image descriptions need to be literal and accurate. Images with missing alt text will be skipped over by screen readers meaning blind web site visitors won’t experience your website as intended.
Optimise for Voice Search
Voice search is here to stay. Last year around 3.25 billion people used voice-activated search and assistants. For people with mobility issues, using a smartphone or computer keyboard can be difficult or even impossible. Voice search gives people a way to access the internet, hands-free.
For several years now, voice search has impacted how websites are optimised for keywords, and content is written. As Neil Patel explains in this article, people using voice search are more likely to use natural, conversational phrases and sentences when using voice search. Considering voice search when you are planning your SEO strategy should reflect this by incorporating natural-sounding search queries in your copy.
Not only could this boost your website ranking, but it will also assist people with mobility issues by quickly providing an accurate response to their query. Of course, this should be your aim anyway – all web users want to access information quickly.
Incorporate Inclusive Design Principles
Another area designed to consider disabled web users but by doing so benefits all is the rise of Inclusive Design Principles.
By following these principles, especially in website design, every visitor will be able to access your website in an equal or comparable way – every user should be able to use your website to its full potential, in a way which suits them.
Examples include giving users choice on how to complete tasks, adopting consistent layouts and patterns to build familiarity, and using plain language.
Why Digital Inclusivity Matters
In 2021, accessibility in the real world is at an all-time high. For moral, legal, and in many cases, financial reasons, businesses now strive to be as accessible as possible and attract people from all walks of life. Why should the digital realm be any different?
Many of us take for granted easy tasks we complete online, such as paying a bill or purchasing an item, but for too many years these functions have been difficult for people with disabilities.
There are also legal implications for those missing the mark when it comes to digitally inclusivity, triggered by a 2019 landmark case involving a blind man and Domino’s pizza. Despite using a screen reader, the man was unable to order a pizza through the Domino’s website.
People with disabilities represent a large part of the general population and have a great amount of spending power. Disabled people will use the most inclusive businesses through necessity and choice.
This is something echoed by one of our clients, RISE Adaptations, in their blog about the Purple Pound. The Purple Pound is a symbol of the massive amount of spending power held by people with disabilities – estimated to be more than £212 billion. By attracting more customers, including those with disabilities, you are going to increase profits.
If you would like to find out more about this or any other aspect of marketing, please contact us for a chat.
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