Is your digital content accessible?

 
Elderly man smiling with young disabled boy.jpg
 
 
 

Listen to the audio version by clicking the play button above.


Do you have a website or publish a blog? If so, is it accessible?

Accessible digital content, such as a website or blog, is content designed in a way that people with disabilities can use it.

Wikipedia has a comprehensive article about web accessibility to help explain what this means.

If, like me, you find that amount of information a bit overwhelming, the New Zealand Blind Foundation has a handy section on their website to more simply explain what an accessible website is and what steps you can take to improve the accessibility of your digital content.

 

While there are no requirements for non-government associated websites to be accessible in New Zealand, incorporating accessibility into your web content provides a variety of benefits. Most obviously it ensures people with blindness and low vision will have access to your site.

There are a few other good reasons to make sure your web content is accessible. In addition to being useful for people with visual impairments, it is also advantageous for people with cognitive, neurological and physical impairments and even for non-disabled people doing things like accessing your content on a mobile phone.

Having an accessible website is good for you, too, with benefits such as increased search engine optimisation and increased market share.

I, however, freely admit that how to achieve web accessibility is over my head.

When I first unveiled my own website it was, knowingly, not an accessible website. Despite the intention of being a short term stop gap measure, I knew it was not good enough. Especially for an accessibility consultant.

 

But making the upgrade to an accessible website was beyond my capability so I called in business branding organisation The Eight Project to help me. They revamped my website to be as accessible as possible, with the bonus of helping me upgrade my branding in the process.

Since going accessible with my website I have had a reader of my blog email me to request that an audio version of each blog be provided. I thought that was a great idea for several reasons, not least because some people simply prefer listening to reading.

After a bit of research I found a versatile free text-to-speech resource called Amazon Polly for turning my written blogs into the audio files that are now available with each of my blog posts. Yet another step to increased accessibility for my web content!

 

All in all, having an accessible website is a really good idea. Just like having an accessible built environment, the benefits extend far beyond a small group of people.

So what steps will you take to improve your digital accessibility?