Add 2.8 Million Readers With Accessible Writing
But if your content doesn't meet basic accessibility guidelines, you're missing out on a bigger market than you think.
Numbers don't lie: According to the American Foundation for the Blind and Statistics Canada, there are 12.8 million blind and print-restricted Americans and 2.8 million similarly disabled Canadians. And with an aging population, expect that number to rise.
The disabled love to surf: Almost half the disabled in North America maintain their independence by using the web. In fact, they spend more time logged on than most nondisabled users.
Accessibility applies to everyone: Make your content easy to read for the cognitively and visually impaired, and you'll make it more readable for everyone who visits your site.
So here's what to do.How to Write for Screen Readers
The visually impaired use applications called "screen readers" to listen to your content.
So to make your words accessible to this group, you'll need to cater to their tools.
You can do this with a few simple tweaks:
Use the clearest, simplest language possible: Small words. Short sentences. And skip the jargon. As just one example, you might think "homepage" looks tighter and more readable than "home page." But many screen readers will mispronounce it if you don't break it up.
Write clear link descriptions: Linked phrases should be short, and their meanings should be clear—even out of context. "Click here" doesn't help someone using a screen reader. Be specific: Makeup tips. Lawnmowers. Baby names. You get the picture.
"Front load" your sentences and paragraphs: The visually impaired scan your content just like any other reader, and they'll skip ahead if they don't hear what they're after within the first few words.
Write text for your sounds and images: But don't go overboard with your coding. The last thing someone wants to hear is "decorative bullet image" every time you use a bullet point.
Tag your initialisms: Unless you want screen-reader users to hear "ibbum" instead of IBM, code your abbreviations appropriately.
And remember, accessible content doesn't have to be clunky. By writing for screen readers, you'll be making your content more accessible for all web readers.