Why is accessibility important to me? As a child of a late deafened adult, I see my own mom struggle to consume content online. Her experience trying to understand videos and other auditory channels without captions and/or transcripts leaves her feeling excluded and “in the dark”. There are people out there that she tries to […]

3 Simple Steps to Make Your Small Business Website Accessible to Everyone

Why is accessibility important to me? As a child of a late deafened adult, I see my own mom struggle to consume content online. Her experience trying to understand videos and other auditory channels without captions and/or transcripts leaves her feeling excluded and “in the dark”. There are people out there that she tries to connect with or follow and she can’t, solely because they don’t have accessible content. It makes my heart break for her, and millions of others, who can’t have the same experiences we do online (where most of the world is communicating these days).

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Accessibility – Why You Should Care

In today’s digital age, well produced content is a cornerstone for any small business. It’s your online presence, your brand, your storefront, your hub for information, and a crucial tool for connecting with customers. But what if the content you’re producing isn’t accessible to everyone you’re trying to reach?

Web accessibility ensures that your website can be navigated and understood by people with disabilities. This includes people who are visually impaired, D/deaf or hard of hearing, have motor limitations, or cognitive differences. Here’s the key takeaway: prioritizing accessibility is right (and smart) thing to do.

Why Accessibility Matters for Small Businesses

Think about it this way: web content that’s difficult to use for people with disabilities is essentially shutting out a large portion of your potential customer base. In fact, only 3% of the content online is accessible. Meaning the other 97% doesn’t reach potential customers. By making your website accessible, you’re opening your doors to a wider audience and increasing your chances of making a difference and serving your communities.

Here are three simple steps you can take to make your website more accessible:

1. Embrace the Power of Alt Text

Images are a fantastic way to break up text and add visual interest to your website. But for people who are visually impaired or rely on screen readers, those images are meaningless without context.

Alt Text (alternative text) is a short description that tells users what an image is about. Here’s the golden rule: if you can’t describe an image in a sentence or two, your alt text needs work.

Here are some additional alt text tips:

  • Be clear and concise: Avoid jargon and technical terms.
  • Use keywords that accurately describe the image content.
  • Don’t stuff alt text with keywords – focus on clarity.
  • Don’t use “a photo of” or “an image of” at the beginning of your alt text. Screen readers will announce this automatically.

Interested in learning more about how screen readers work? Check out AudioEye.

2. Speak Louder with Video Captions

Videos are a powerful tool for engaging website visitors. Maybe you have instructions for your products in video format, or you host your very own YouTube channel! For people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, the content of those videos is inaccessible without captions.

Captions are a text transcript of the audio portion of a video. They allow people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing to follow along with the video content. Additionally, captions can benefit people who are learning a new language or who are in a noisy environment where they can’t hear the audio clearly.

There are several ways to add captions to your videos:

  • Manual captioning: This involves transcribing the audio yourself or hiring a transcription service.
  • Automatic captioning: Many video platforms offer automatic captioning features. However, these captions are not always accurate and may require editing.
  • Closed captions: These captions can be turned on or off by the viewer, depending on their needs.

3. Structure for Success: Headings and Keyboard Navigation

A well-structured website is easier for everyone to navigate. Here are two key elements of a good website structure for accessibility:

  • Headings: Headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) act like signposts on your webpage, guiding users through the content. Use headings to break up your content into clear sections and subsections. This is especially helpful for people who use screen readers, as they can jump from heading to heading to get a quick overview of your website.
  • Keyboard Navigation: Not everyone uses a mouse to navigate a website. People with motor limitations may rely on a keyboard to navigate. Make sure your website is keyboard-friendly, meaning all interactive elements (such as buttons and links) can be accessed and activated using the keyboard.

These are just a few simple steps you can take to make your small business website more accessible. Remember, accessibility isn’t just about following guidelines; it’s about creating an inclusive online experience for everyone!

By taking these steps, you’ll not only be opening your doors to a wider audience, but you’ll also be creating a website that’s easier for everyone to use and enjoy. Want to learn more? Be sure to snag my freebie, “Make Your Content More Accessible”.

09

Jul

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3 Simple Steps to Make Your Small Business Website Accessible to Everyone

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