a11y, or the abbreviation for web accessibility, is how one makes their web content usable to people with disabilities. In some cases, such as if a site owner has a store that’s open to the public, it is also mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to have a website compliant with WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.) Organizations are starting to recognize the importance of web accessibility as a result, as are marketers who are assisting them with content strategy since making web content more accessible is actually good business sense.
Site owners and content creators can start with simple steps such as including alternative text tags on images and using a larger font point size in blog posts and web copy. While web accessibility relies on both overall website and user experience design, it’s also important to apply these principles to content creation whenever possible. Here’s why a11y measures for content creation are important even if you aren’t mandated to do so.
Your content becomes more consumable to a wider array of users.
The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 15% of the world’s population has some type of disability and these are people who use the internet. For visually-impaired users in particular, there are 285 million people with visual impairments worldwide, with roughly 246 million low-vision individuals who aren’t blind so this makes visual presentation a priority for both text and image based content.
For instance, contrast ratio is extremely important for blog posts, web copy, and other text-intensive content . WCAG 2.0 dictates that large text should have a font size of at least 18, 14 if boldface, and a 3:1 contrast ratio (4.5:1 for other text) if the text is a major component of the content opposed to incidental text and logotypes. This makes content more readable for users with low visual acuity. By making it more visible, you open up your site to new users and customers.
Accessible content is also easier to navigate even if users don’t have disabilities.
Using the contrast ratio example if you have at least a 4.5:1 ratio for your text, it also makes it easier to view for users who don’t have disabilities. They won’t need to adjust settings to view your content on multiple devices, and the same goes for designing your site to be easily navigable by multiple input devices. It’s not that dissimilar to how elevators and curb cuts make public spaces more convenient for people who aren’t wheelchair users.
Alternative text tags improve SEO scores.
You don’t need to sacrifice a beautiful, media-rich website in order to make it accessible. But if you have images with your content, you should include alternative text tags describing the image and using your target keyword whenever possible. Alternative text tags are searchable text just like your blog post itself and the metadata tags. In addition to opening your content up to more users, you’re also ensuring your post results in higher keyword density.
There are tax incentives for accessibility.
If you’re required by law to meet accessibility standards, avoiding penalties is only one aspect of why a11y should be a priority. Site owners can get up to $5,000 in federal tax rebates for making sites and content more accessible. The tax credits were intended for physical spaces, but they can be applied to web content accessibility initiatives and help offset the cost of accessibility user testing.
Making an effort to make your site accessible to users with disabilities makes your content easier for everyone to consume and can even provide PR and SEO boosts. Accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good business sense.
Rachel P is an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. She is also a content strategist here at Writer Access and would be happy to help you with keyword maps, customer journey maps, and buyer personas in addition to writing for you. If you would to like to hire Rachel to devise a content strategy for you, please contact your account manager or send a direct message.