About 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, which makes looking at our communications pieces through the lens of accessibility more important than ever.
The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is committed to fostering an inclusive campus culture by ensuring that everyone can access its digital information and digital services. This includes websites, electronic documents, videos, and electronic equipment such as digital signs. As a matter of fact, anything you create with the intention of sharing is required to be accessible.
When you think of disabilities, you might just consider the impairments we can see. But difficulties with thinking, memory, learning, and communicating should also be taken into consideration because they affect an individual’s ability to read and understand a printed piece.
Fortunately, accessible design doesn’t have to limit creativity. It’s about making adjustments so the printed or electronic piece can connect with the entire audience.
THREE KEY POINTS
Like it or not, the majority of users skim pages by headings and link titles. The ability to navigate and understand pages based on their structure becomes critically important for users with visual, reading, or attention disabilities.
Screen readers navigate and describe content based on how the text is structured, not how it looks. Creating actual headers and not just bolding some text, and using real lists as opposed to putting bullet icons at the start of a sentence provide a structure that screen readers can easily navigate.
Users who are blind rely on alt text for images and icons. Users who are deaf, hard of hearing, new to a language, or are in a location where a device needs to be muted rely on captioning or transcripts for videos and audio.
Keys to creating accessible content
- Make sure you use actual headings and format them as H1/H2/H3 elements, not just big bold text.
- Add alternative text to each image. Be sure to describe each image in a meaningful way.
- Format lists using your program’s built-in list function, don’t just add bullets or numbers to the start of sentences.
- If you need to include tables, format them to have real header cells, not just background colors.
- Make sure there’s enough color contrast between your text and your background so that users with low vision or colorblindness can use your content. Resources like webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker can be helpful if you’re not sure what your ratio is.
- Create meaningful, self-explanatory links so that they make sense, even out of context (unlike “click here”).
- Identify languages for screen readers: “Español” without a language tag is “A Spaniel.”
- Avoid using images of text. In cases where you must, include the text in the alt text.
- Avoid using sensory characteristics that disappear with layout or color perception changes (“the red items in the right-hand column”).
- Don’t use color alone to provide meaning. Print your document in black and white to see if the meaning is still clear. If it’s not, revise the content that is unclear.