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Let me start by saying that no documentation can cowl each doable state of affairs with regards to making on-line content material accessible for all. Nonetheless, there are some key factors that each one communicators ought to know.

What’s accessibility?

Internet Content material Accessibility Tips (WCAG) are developed by The World Broad Internet Consortium (W3C). W3C’s “mission is to steer the Internet to its fullest potential.” A lot of the rules take care of web site design, consumer expertise (UX), and different net instruments and apps. For this text and our readers, we’ll give attention to content material accessibility.

Accessibility means creating one thing that can be utilized by as many individuals as doable. It’s like the web content material model of wheelchair ramps for buildings and curbs or the usage of braille in printed supplies.

In case your audience can’t rapidly and comfortably entry your content material, it spoils the general expertise. Designing digital experiences that enable folks of all skills to attach with and benefit from the content material you create is what accessibility is all about.

Incapacity by the numbers

Let’s begin by taking a look at some fundamental info and statistics that underscore the necessity for higher accessibility. That is important as lots of the folks included in these figures are seemingly a part of your audience!

Why accessibility is essential in communications

Making your content material extra accessible has enterprise advantages. It will increase viewers attain, buyer engagement and lead conversions. It improves search engine optimization, enhances buyer loyalty, and helps perpetuate a optimistic model popularity — all issues PR (and advertising) professionals can absolutely relate to. You’ll be able to see this clearly within the final two bullet factors above.

Having accessible content material is particularly essential with regards to time-sensitive and disaster communications and any messaging affecting the well being and wellbeing of others.

Dreamstime M 237536691 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAGSmallAfter we produce disability-inclusive accessible content material, we ship a robust message to folks with disabilities — that we acknowledge them (and their mates and households) as priceless members of our group and notice they need to be included.

Folks and not using a incapacity can profit from accessible content material, too. For instance, 74% of Gen Z watch video content material on mute with captions on. They usually aren’t alone, as this Gen Xer additionally by no means has the quantity on, choosing captions as an alternative.

Communicators additionally perceive that digital accessibility is important for incapacity inclusion within the office and is a key element of all variety, fairness, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Getting began

When you haven’t thought a lot about accessibility or haven’t but made it a precedence, you’re not alone! In keeping with WebAIM (Internet Accessibility In Thoughts), 96.8% of web site homepages aren’t accessible sufficient to satisfy WCAG requirements. WebAIM stories that the majority failures fall into only a handful of classes. Whereas this examine was achieved for web site house pages, we will extrapolate among the findings for content-related accessibility.

The most typical types of inaccessibility:

  • Low distinction textual content (brightness between two colours)
  • Photos with out different textual content (alt textual content is a written substitute for non-text content material)
  • Ambiguous hyperlinks (e.g., “click on right here,” “extra,” “proceed,” and so on.)
  • Damaged skip hyperlink (bounce hyperlinks)
  • Video with out captioning

The infographic under explains WCAG’s 4 rules of accessibility — that are perceivable, operable, comprehensible, and strong:

Four  Accessibility Infographic 925cd07f48Small

Creating disability-inclusive (accessible) communications

A lot of WCAG’s tips fall below the purview of the IT group or net builders. I’ll give attention to content-related suggestions right here that communications and PR professionals usually have management over.

  1. Use people-first, inclusive language. Following AP type is likely one of the finest methods to make sure you’re not utilizing ableist language. We lined this when the AP Stylebook added a brand new chapter on inclusive storytelling and made updates to the disabilities part final yr.The American Hospital Affiliation (AHA) reminds us to decide on our phrases rigorously, as phrases can transmit stigma relating to psychiatric, psychological, and behavioral issues. Folks matter and the phrases we use to explain them or their issues matter.
  2. Keep away from particular characters and symbols when doable, as they have an effect on those that depend on display reader assistive expertise. They’ll additionally adversely have an effect on accessibility for folks with studying disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, and non-native English audio system.
  3. Take care when utilizing emojis. Each emoji has a built-in alt textual content description assigned to it that may be learn by many display readers however could differ by platform, gadget, and browsers. Be certain you’re aware of every one’s description by visiting Emojipedia. Use emojis carefully to maintain from complicated your message.
  4. Use description hyperlinks and hypertext. Keep away from utilizing hyperlinks below phrases and phrases like click on right here, learn extra, extra, right here, and information. (I’ve tried to use this rule to this publish, which is why you’re seeing longer chunks of textual content hyperlinked.) Additionally, make sure your hyperlinks should not empty or damaged.
  5. Use alt textual content for pictures. Alternate textual content (alt textual content) is solely a written substitute for non-text content material like pictures. Alt textual content is critical any time you employ a picture to intensify or add to your content material — that is what display readers see. The bonus profit is that alt textual content can be learn by serps, contributing to your search engine optimization outcomes.
  6. Embody captions on video content material. AI-enabled auto-captions can be found on most video platforms and constructed into on-line assembly methods like Zoom and Groups. Nevertheless, they’re error-prone, so edit them for correctness, spelling, and punctuation. NOTE: Captions don’t essentially carry over when sharing between platforms, so be sure you add them when vital.
  7. Use #camelCase or #PascalCase for hashtags. PR professionals and comms professionals generally embody hashtags in occasion promotions, product advertising, cause-related campaigns, or model activations. Whereas this normally applies to social media, I’m together with it right here as a result of it’s important — for these with and with out disabilities.
  8. Pay attention to colours, distinction, and font dimension. Coloration distinction is a ratio between two colours, with larger contrasts extra accessible. Use a big sufficient font dimension for the physique textual content so folks can comfortably learn it. By no means use a font dimension of lower than 12 factors (16px).
  9. Good writing apply. A number of different accessibility suggestions and tips are the identical good writing practices we already observe. For instance, utilizing plain language (not jargon), being clear and concise (preserve it easy), utilizing energetic vs. passive voice, and making use of correct punctuation.


Accessible communication imply acknowledging and responding to the very fact folks have completely different communication wants. Growing your content material accordingly ensures as many individuals as doable can entry the knowledge you present.

Lastly, you possibly can study extra by following and fascinating with incapacity activists and accessibility advocates on-line. On Twitter, strive following the hashtag #A11y and @A11yAwareness.

Burrelles’ monitoring and analytics provide the skill to rapidly assess tendencies and extract priceless insights from all media – print, on-line, broadcast, and social. You’ll be able to contact us by means of this manner to get extra info and to debate your particular wants.

*RESOURCES: In your comfort, I’m together with probably the most useful sources I discovered when researching this subject.

High 9 Suggestions for Accessible Communications