Did you know it was Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) last Thursday?
The aim of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and inclusion, and people with different disabilities.
No person with a disability should be discriminated against and stopped from accessing your digital (or offline) communications because you’ve made no effort to make them accessible.
So here are eight quick and easy steps to follow to make your digital communications more accessible to help you do your bit to follow up on GAAD 2018.
#1: Make your font size bigger
Use a font size of 12 or above in all your emails, documents and other digital communications. It sounds simple, but it’s often overlooked. Using size 12 or above as standard may seem a bit different at first, but large font is of course easier to read and will help the estimated 150,000 people in the UK who are partially sighted to read your content.
#2: Use sans serif fonts
Wherever possible, use sans serif fonts like Arial, Calibri and Verdana. Sans serif fonts don’t have the curly squiggles (serifs) at the end of each letter, which make text harder (and slower) to read.
Serif fonts like Times New Roman, on the other hand, do have the serifs (squiggles). Try and avoid using them in your digital communications.
#3: Format with care
Use bold for emphasis, but try and use it sparingly. Avoid underlining because it’s harder to read for some people. The same goes for caps. Always use quotation marks to signal a quote or a name.
And never use Italics. Italics make it much harder to read text, especially when the font is small (see point #1), even for people who don’t have low vision.
#4: Add alt text tags to all images
Every image you use or share should have an alt text description. Alt text (aka alt tags) offers people with low or no vision who are using a device called a screen reader a description of what’s in an image.
You can add alt text to images by right-clicking on an image, then click on Properties at the bottom on the menu. Next, click on the Details tab, then add your alt text copy in the space next to Tags, then click OK.
#5: Turn on the accessibility settings on your social media accounts
There are accessibility settings on most social media platforms that you can use to make sure your social media accounts are accessible to people with disabilities.
The main point here is to make images accessible. For example, you can go into the settings on your Twitter account and turn on alt text for images. To do this go to Settings and privacy > Accessibility > turn on Compose image descriptions.
And when you upload images to Facebook, it automatically adds machine-generated alt text that you can edit yourself. You can add your own alt text tags to an image by selecting a new post as you would do normally, then select Photo/Video, select the photo you want to add, and click Edit Photo.
Then click Alt Text. The automatically generated alt text will be shown on the left side of your photo. Click Override generated alt text to edit it and write your alt text in the box.
You can also like Facebook’s Accessibility page and follow @fbaccess on Twitter for updates on any new Facebook accessibility features, and look for the accessibility settings on your accounts on other social media platforms.
#6: Double up and add alt text in social media posts
Use alt text descriptions in your social media posts and status updates. Double up on the above point, so even if the screen reader can’t recognise the alt text labels in an image, you can still ensure that the person using the screen reader can access a description of what’s in any image you post.
Alt text descriptions in your social media posts and status updates should take the following format: ‘ALT: insert description’.
#7: Write descriptive web links
No ‘click here’ web links, please. The text in the link needs to describe what the link links to. Otherwise a person with low or no vision using a screen reader will only be able to understand that there’s a web link on the page in front of them, not what it links to. You should keep link text concise (100 characters maximum) and avoid using the word link in your links, or using URLs as link text.
#8 Write in plain English
The more complex your language is, the more difficult it will be for some people to read. This includes the estimated ten per cent of the UK population who are dyslexic. And the average reading age of the UK population is nine years, which means people have reached the reading ability normally expected of a nine year old.
You should write in plain English at all times and avoid using complex words or figures of speech. The Plain English Campaign has produced a free guide you can use to help you write in plain English.
Contact us now if you need help to make your employee or customer communications accessible and inclusive.