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  • Writer's pictureRonja Norja

Accessibility of website content: why and how

The website provides an efficient way to communicate and share information with customers, community members or users around the world. However, not everyone sees and consumes online content in the same way. That is why it is important to take the web content accessibility into account, preferably already when planning the content.

What does the accessibility of website content mean and why is it worth considering?

In the physical world, accessibility means that you can go to different places, for example, with a wheelchair, with a rollator or with a cast on one of your legs. In the digital environment, however, accessibility means that it is easy for every user to access and utilize your content. An accessible site is easy to use regardless of the user's digital skills, limitations and challenges, or the hardware and operating environment in use.

In the grass is a sign with the text: "Step free Route" and an arrow to the right. Accessibility of website contents.

Accessibility helps especially people with special needs. Special needs are caused by, for example, visual or hearing impairment, mobility limitations, or cognitive challenges, such as difficulties in comprehension of written text or concentrating for a long time. An accessible site can be read, for example, with a screen reader used by the visually impaired. Accessible video content has subtitles or closed captioning so they can also be followed by a person who cannot hear. Accessibility on the website also means clear navigation and easily digestible text entities.

Accessibility is primarily about equal opportunity to access content, consume it, be entertained by it, learn and get information. On the other hand, accessibility is also part of a good user experience for all kinds of users. Accessible design might come in handy when you are consuming content in a moving bus, in bright daylight or with a slow internet connection.

Although the accessibility of online content is primarily intended to help those with special needs, taking it into account also improves the usability and findability of your site. For example, alt texts on images help search engines index the content better. Clearly structured content and easy-to-use navigations improve user engagement and comfort.

The girl stands on the highway and examines a large paper map. Accessibility of website contents.

How can the accessibility of the contents of your own site be improved?

Here I collected some easy ways to improve the accessibility of your own content. These steps will at least get you started:

Alt texts in images

Add a description of what is in the picture as alt text. In this way, the user with a screen reading software gets a description of what others see on the screen as an image. The text also shows, instead of the image, if the user's internet connection is slow.

Clear and structured content

Use headings, subheadings and paragraph divisions to make the content easier to read and understand. This especially helps people who find it difficult to understand or concentrate on reading long texts. It also facilitates a quick glance at the content.

Easy-to-use navigation

A clear and easy-to-understand website structure helps all website users find what they are looking for. Clear navigation makes your site easier and more enjoyable to use.

A word game board with the word "Caption" formed on it. Accessibility of website contents.

Use of colors

Make sure that your site has sufficient color contrast, i.e. the colors stand out clearly from each other. This makes reading the text easy even for visually impaired users. Clear, distinct colors also help the use of your site in different lighting conditions and on screens that reproduce colors in different ways.

Embedded multimedia

If your site has videos or audio files, offer subtitles, closed captioning and enable volume adjustment.

Forms and interactive elements

Check that all forms and interactive elements are easily accessible with a keyboard and that they are also easy to use with screen readers.

Test accessibility

You can also take advantage of accessibility tests and tools to ensure that your site meets accessibility standards and guidelines.

With these easy steps, you can make your site's content more accessible in one fell swoop. When you make your site's content accessible to more user groups, you expand your own target audience enormously i.e. you get a large number of new potential website visitors and thus paying customers.

Taking into account the needs of all users is important so that we can create a truly inclusive and accessible online environment.

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