It is no secret that our modern world of work is evolving at a rapid rate thanks to the rise of technology. We’re certainly living in a digital age now where our daily lives are conducted almost entirely online - from social media, paying bills, buying tickets, and conducting daily business.
Currently, in the UK alone, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people have some form of dyslexia. Without access to suitable resources provided by the Internet, many of the disabled population in the UK are missing out on valuable opportunities that the Internet provides us such as education, employment, and even daily socialising via various social media platforms we use.
Accommodations are commonly made for people with physical disabilities. For instance, we wouldn’t think twice about building an office without an accessibility ramp or lift. However, these same exceptions aren’t always made for online users, especially those with “invisible conditions” such as dyslexia, vision impairments, hearing loss, or other common mental disabilities. Moving forward, it’s becoming even more important for companies to be proactive about improving their online presence. An integral part of this is their approach to web accessibility.
Notably, Internet use among disabled adults is increasing. Recent studies from the Office of National Statistics estimates that since 2014, the number of disabled adults who had used the Internet recently increased by 11.7 percentage points to just over 9.5 million in 2018. As a result, companies simply cannot afford to bypass necessary accessibility and user-experience features.
Providing the correct accommodations can allow your business to have higher web traffic, client trust and increased revenue. Here are some of the notable accessibility features you should provide for your online audience:
Alt text for images
The Internet, particularly social media, is now undoubtedly a “meme” culture. For the uninitiated, a meme is essentially a humorous image, video or phrase that is shared widely around the Internet for comic effect. Popular memes can rack up millions of views, likes and engagement online, but imagine having no idea what people are talking about when they reference Grumpy Cat or Evil Kermit. Providing alternative text for images allows blind or visually impaired users to understand the context of these images by explaining what the photo is. Luckily, most common social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn now provide options for doing this easily.
Some disabled Internet users are unable to use a traditional mouse or keypad, which means navigating large or complex websites can be problematic. You therefore need to ensure that your website has the appropriate keyboard functionalities so that users can easily navigate your website through a keyboard alone, rather than worrying about the hassle of clicking. Additionally, given our short attention span on the Internet, it’s also worth minimising the need for users to click through various menus and options. The longer information takes to find on your website, the less likely users will want to access it.
Audio narration and transcripts
Perhaps the most obvious choice for making your web content more accessible is by providing appropriate audio and transcription options. These are especially helpful for deaf and blind users who may be unable to read your content otherwise. Captioning is also especially important for video content, not just for disabled users, but also for those of us who keep our phones on silent during the workday.
Globalisation is becoming much more common now as our world becomes somewhat smaller. International travel is now easier and more affordable than ever, and many businesses now have international offices and/or foreign workers, meaning English isn’t always the most common language spoken. This is becoming particularly important in England and the United States where numerous languages are often spoken in the same country. In England, for example, there are over 4 million people who speak English as a second language. In addition to Welsh and Polish, Urdu and Punjabi are also commonly spoken in our growing multicultural society. It is important that businesses don’t alienate prospective clients from their website by not providing appropriate translation capabilities.
Colour and/or font changes
Studies have shown that some simple colour and font changes can make it easier for people with dyslexia to read content. Plain, sans serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica and Tahoma are some of the easiest to read, along with a font size between 12-14 point. Underlining and italics should also be avoided as this can make text harder to read. Some people with dyslexia have also been known to read more easily when font colours are changed.
Check international requirements
Accessibility requirements can vary within different countries. What may be required in one country may not be required in another. It is best to check the legal accessibility requirements with a global organisation such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) who have internationally recognized standards.
Finally, with all things considered, it may also be worth researching appropriate web accessibility software like the Recite Me Accessibility Toolbar. The benefits of this are twofold: it can make your life easier by providing a quick and seamless solution, allowing you to focus on other business matters, and it vastly improves the web experience for your customers by providing a comprehensive, all-in-one solution.
In the grand scheme of things, these are small changes that make a huge impact on your audience. What may seem like a minimal change to you, can make a world of difference to someone with vision loss, dyslexia or a hearing impairment. Additionally, with an aging population and an expanding digital world, it will only become more important to provide appropriate web accessibility options in the future. Our mission is to break down the everyday barriers of disabilities and ensure that web content is accessible to everyone of all abilities.
Investigo recently invested in Recite Me and, in doing so, made their online content accessible to a much wider audience. Find out more about Recite Me’s accessibility toolbar on Investigo’s website by clicking