Content Creators: Five Easy Ways to Make Your Work Accessible

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Accessibility Podcast

I was recently interviewed on the PushPull Podcast in Portland with Kristin Valentine and Joel Barker and got to talk all about things I learned at CSUN and ways to make websites accessible.  Check it out! As promised, here is a blog post with five easy ways you can make your work more accessible as a content creator. I did end up getting a transcript. 

1. Make it human

Include people with disabilities as part of the strategic plan for a website from the beginning. Start identifying people with disabilities within your target market and keep them in mind through various phases of the project. Begin by taking finding moments to think about “disability” as a broad issue and notice how it overlaps in the lives of those around you in visible and invisible ways. There is a good chance thinking of it this way can help you improve the overall UX of your site. A few populations to build personas around include the (growing) aging population, people who are completely blind, people who have other degrees of visual impairment, and people with hearing loss.

2. Test your site with screen reading software as part of your go-live checklist 

Just like you test your sites on various mobile devices and browsers, it is important to get a feel for how the user experience is for someone who uses screen reading software. I did it on a few pages of my own site using Safari. You should not need to install anything to start up VoiceOver on a Mac, just press command + F5 and it will start reading aloud to you as you navigate through the site. Look here for a comprehensive list from the wonderful Leonie Watson from the Paciello Group. It covers command keys from other screen readers such as JAWS and NVDA, as well. 

3. Try an accessibility evaluation tool

I just ran an accessibility checker tool by WebAIM on my site and found several changes to make, including better alt text for some of my images. I also found a potential problem with a navigation element that is flashy but actually caused one of the dead-ends from step one. For the design elements of the site, start by testing color contrast - there is a light grey on white background style that many designers are favoring that aren’t doing any favors to people with low vision. There are many out there, I like this color contrast checker because it allows you to plug in a URL rather than understanding what "contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1" means!

4. Go for low hanging fruit

You are likely to find plenty of changes to make starting with the above and you probably aren’t up for tackling each one right away. Instead, prioritize the most important ones, balancing your objectives for the site with your technical know-how. Commit to making continual progress bit by bit. Learning best practices and skills now will (hopefully) mean that moving forward these considerations will be “baked-in” and even become second nature for you as you get more comfortable with them.

5. Hashtag it!

When researching the various applications and their accessibility, use search terms like “#a11y” rather than generic “accessibility” which has other meanings when talking about web development. This works great on twitter and google as well. Also try “#508” which refers to the section of the ADA that was passed in 2010 regarding web accessibility. 

I had a great time on this podcast, sharing my learning. I am still new to the field but very passionate about it and excited to learn more. Follow me on Twitter to learn more up-to date accessibility info!