Top 4 ways to write accessible content

Tarveen Kaur November 4, 2016

Writing accessible content makes it easy for readers to grasp the concept, idea or information you are trying to convey. And this applies for readers with disabilities as well as those without. Whether it’s educational or entertaining in nature, accessible content can enable anyone and everyone to find what they are looking for. It can be simply for pleasure, personal growth, educational progress or career development. So let’s look at the things to keep in mind, while creating such content.

  • Keep it simple – Complicated sentences don’t help anyone. Use plain and easy to understand language, simple words, and keep sentences short and crisp. No more than 20 to 25 words should be used per sentence. To measure the readability of your content, use tools such as Hemingway Editor.
  • Heading are important – They help users to access some particular content directly, and save time. Tools like PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, and Open Office come with various formatting options, so that you can structure your document properly. For instance, the numbers in a heading style like this – Heading 1 (<h1>) – help visually impaired readers to figure out the content when they can’t see visual breaks in the text.
  • How to emphasize content – While designing accessible content, remember that screen readers cannot identify font styles like bold, color, italics, underline or strikethrough. So you can use these styles as visual breaks, but don’t use them alone for signifying importance. Put simply, if you are using red text to indicate something vital, also use an accessible alternative like an exclamation or question mark, which screen readers can understand. This means, that when the screen reader sees a question mark, it will not read out the phrase “question mark”, but give a questioning tone to the sentence. This will help visually impaired users to understand the special importance of that sentence.
  • Using images – For accessible content, use images only if you understand their purpose or meaning. Otherwise, they can pose problems for users with learning disabilities. While uploading an image, you will generally see a field for alternative text. If the image is just decorative, leave the field blank. And if you want the screen reader to read out about the image, then include clear and concise alternative text. Note that according to WCAG guidelines, text should not be a part of the image. Rather, you can describe the image in text form on the page.

Hope you will now find creating accessible content a tad easier. So make content that everyone can enjoy and benefit from, and that too, without having to compromise on account of physical challenges.

Tarveen Kaur

Accessibility Practice Lead at Magic EdTech, Tarveen is actively engaged in building new class digital accessibility solutions for education.