Accessibility: Make Your Content Future-Proof
Author: Sudhendu Singh
Did you know that 57 million people in the United States identify as having some form of disability, according to the US Census Bureau? That’s 19% of the US population. Globally it’s 15% of the population—ONE BILLION people!
While there are high numbers of people with disabilities, less than 10% of websites and other forms of content are accessible. Just think about the impact on individuals who are deprived of the opportunity to access the content. The downside also affects content creators, who are also missing an opportunity to reach out to more people.
Accessibility is more than a buzzword. It is the cornerstone of an inclusive content creation strategy. Publishers are eager to respond but wonder:
- How do we get started?
- What is the best approach?
- Which strategy will give us the best return on our investment?
Most realize that creating accessible content is an investment rather than a measure to fulfill compliance requirements. This is key. Your accessibility strategy should take into consideration your existing content, as well as new content development.
Every organization approaches remediating content differently. Still, these are the main steps:
- Audit/Review of the content, data, and structure of your assets.
- Assess your level of compliance (Level A, AA, and AAA) with relevant laws and standards.
- Create your remediation plan, based on overall risk and timeframe, to bring your assets into compliance with relevant standards.
- Begin remediation of assets
Incorporating accessibility guidelines during the “Design Stage” makes a tremendous difference. Some notable benefits are:
- Saving 30-40% in TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
- Reaching a wider audience who currently doesn’t have access to the content
- Gaining competitive advantage
- Preventing lawsuits
1) Saving 30-40%
Incorporate accessibility from the beginning. It’s both easier and more economical. As you design your content, you can think about the various design factors to incorporate to make your content accessible and inclusive to all users.
Key accessibility guidelines to follow the design process include:
- Image selection with right color contrast to help the visually challenged
- Text selection with the right color contrast to prevent problems for the visually challenged
- Adding alt text for images to facilitate screen readers
- Using anchor images within the content to facilitate screen readers that process the content in a linear fashion
- Maintaining reading order
- Using consistent paragraph styles
- Designing to accommodate users with diverse disabilities (e.g, deafness, color blindness, etc.)
- Ensuring flexibility (such as accommodating both right- and left-handedness)
- Simplifying complex information by using a series of steps and clear hierarchy
- Optimizing your text with relevant pictures and ensuring that vital information is presented with purposeful repetition, such as infographics alongside text
- Size and Space for Approach and Use – e.g., accommodate touch target areas for average-sized fingertips.
2) Reaching a wider audience who doesn’t have access to the content
There is a whole new world to reach through accessible content, and many of us might not realize it when first formulating a content strategy. As much as 90% of the billion people with disabilities don’t have access to content because it’s not available, it’s not optimized for screen readers, or it’s not suited for certain devices or operating systems. This is a missed opportunity.
In a recent survey done by Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit, 98.6% of students find closed captions helpful even though the majority of the students were not having any disability.
3) Gaining competitive advantage
Organizations that are providing accessible content through all media have a significant advantage compared to their competitors. They’re well-positioned to take a bigger market share. As compliance requirements become more stringent and competition grows, these factors become more and more relevant.
4) Preventing lawsuits
Often, making content accessible is put on the back burner because organizations perceive this as an added cost with very little benefit, being unaware of the legal ramifications which can be extremely costly.
Given the stringent norms and requirements around content accessibility, organizations open themselves to potential lawsuits. In 2018 alone, over 2,250 web accessibility lawsuits were filed, with a high profile case filed against Netflix in 2012. It’s incumbent on organizations to ensure that their content and the technology through which they are delivering their services are accessible, in order to avoid expensive lawsuits.
Accessibility is not a short-term fix or a one-time plan. It needs to be an integral part of the design processes. Accessibility guidelines are continuously evolving, and it is important that the strategy is flexible enough to adapt. Accessibility service providers can help you navigate this entire process by setting up a robust framework so that you can save money and time. To learn more about this process, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.