Web accessibility refers to the practice of ensuring that websites, web applications, and digital content are usable and navigable by all individuals, including those with disabilities. It focuses on creating online experiences that can be easily accessed, understood, and interacted with by everyone, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities.
Accessibility is not merely a legal requirement; it's a crucial aspect of inclusivity and a vast market waiting to be tapped into. With an estimated 15% of the global population having some form of disability, digital marketers have a unique opportunity and responsibility to ensure their content is accessible to all. In this article, we delve into why accessibility in marketing matters and explore four best practices for creating inclusive digital experiences.
Accessibility in marketing isn't just about compliance; it's about recognizing that your digital content should be accessible to everyone. This mindset shift reframes accessibility as an opportunity to broaden your reach rather than a mere obligation.
The disability market, encompassing people with disabilities and their friends and family, wields significant purchasing power, controlling over $13 trillion in disposable income. When your content isn't accessible, you risk excluding potential buyers, including non-disabled individuals who may interpret inaccessible marketing as a reflection of your company's values.
Neglecting accessibility can also lead to legal repercussions. A prominent case involves Domino's, which faced a lawsuit from Guillermo Robles, a blind individual who couldn't use their inaccessible website with a screen reader. After six years of litigation, Domino's settled out of court, spending substantial time and resources defending against an ADA violation.
In summary, embracing accessibility benefits not only people with disabilities but also your business's credibility, engagement, and conversion rates.
1. Alt Text on Images
Alt text is more than an SEO booster; it's a crucial accessibility feature. Screen readers rely on alt text to describe images to users. When writing alt text:
Alt text ensures that blind or visually impaired users gain the same context from images as sighted users.
2. Use the Appropriate Contrast Ratio
The contrast ratio between background and foreground colors impacts readability for colorblind and visually impaired visitors. Adhering to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 Level AA standards, ensure a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for text and images, except for text larger than 18 points, which requires a ratio of 3:1.
Utilize contrast checker tools to meet these standards, even if it necessitates design adjustments. This change enhances inclusivity without compromising aesthetics.
3. Coding for Screen Readers
Screen readers benefit various user groups, including the blind, those with reading disorders like dyslexia, individuals with conditions like ADHD, and non-native speakers. To optimize for screen reader users:
Consider testing your website's user experience using the Tab key to mimic a screen reader's navigation.
4. Use Captions and Transcripts
Captions and transcripts make audio and video content accessible to a wider audience. Captions include timestamped transcriptions that synchronize with video audio, enabling users to follow along. Transcripts convert speech into written format, offering a choice between verbatim or edited versions.
While transcripts alone may not meet accessibility requirements, they serve as a useful accessibility tool, complementing video captions. Moreover, they are often more accessible and DIY-friendly.
The best practices outlined here are not just checkboxes but steps toward genuine accessibility and inclusivity in your digital marketing efforts. By embracing accessibility as a moral imperative and recognizing the vast market it represents, you can create a digital presence that welcomes and engages a diverse audience. Accessibility isn't just a legal requirement; it's a gateway to reaching more potential customers and enhancing your brand's reputation. Start making your digital marketing accessible today, and make a difference in the lives of countless individuals worldwide.