Accessible Content: How to Ensure Your Online Content is Accessible

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Accessible Content: How to Ensure Your Online Content is Accessible

Online content creation isn’t a day’s job. You need to consider user intent, pain points, and motivation before mapping out strategic campaigns to nurture your customer from awareness to purchase. But if your audience can’t use or access this content, you risk undermining all your good work. 

For example, could a user with a disability access and make the most of your content in the same way as a user without a disability? If what you put out there in the world isn’t universally accessible, you might be missing out on a potentially crucial audience segment.

Here, we’ll examine what accessible content is and how you can make your online content more accessible to people with disabilities.

What Is Accessible Content?

Accessible content is any online information with intentional design features to ensure people with disabilities can access and interact with it effectively. Accessible content is for individuals with visual, auditory, motor, cognitive, and neurological impairments. 

The goal of creating accessible content is to provide an inclusive and equal experience for all users and across all content types—blogs, social media, website forms, and even email.  

While in this article we’ll focus on how to make content more accessible to users with a disability, web accessibility also caters to other situational contexts: 

  • Users with smaller screens like mobile phones and smartwatches. 
  • Older people with less tech expertise.
  • People interacting with content in bright sunlight or at night.
  • Users with limited internet speed and bandwidth. 
  • Content creators and businesses utilizing social media management tools to reach a broader audience.

WebAIM reports over 96% of the world’s top one million web pages aren’t accessible. As such, people with disabilities will find it difficult to use information on these websites, underlining the need for increased efforts to improve internet content accessibility.

Image sourced from

ALT: Percentages of home pages with web content accessibility errors

Content Accessibility Guidelines to Follow

Here’s a framework of questions to ensure you tick every box on the road to complete content accessibility. 

Is the Content Perceivable to Everyone?

Perception in content accessibility refers to the user’s ability to recognize the content exists where you’ve put it. Primarily, you want to ensure that anyone can easily find and identify your content regardless of whether they can’t see, hear, or process information like non-disabled people.  

The first step is to create content in multiple formats, such as text, video, and audio. Each format is ideal for a specific audience group.

For example, say you’re creating content that aims to answer a tech-heavy question, such as what is HDFS? Text and descriptive video content with sign language will be excellent for deaf audiences. But you should also ensure the videos include captions, descriptive, and ALT texts for images.

If you’re dealing with a situation where you need to convert video formats for accessibility, consider using an online video converter to ensure compatibility.

Conversely, audio format content is ideal for visually impaired audiences. It also helps to use text colors that appear clearly against the background. This, alongside consistent visual elements, makes it easier for partially blind users to recognize text content.

Is the Content or Web Page Operable? 

To ensure your content is operable, make navigation simple for everyone, especially keyboard-only users. For example, people with disabilities may be using an AI virtual assistant. Systems like Google Assistant and Siri have features like voice control and text-to-speech for those with disabilities. As such, your online content must be operable by these systems. 

In addition, avoid using flashing or fast-moving content. If you must do that, provide an option that allows viewers or listeners to slow it down. Lastly, use a logical flow with structured headings that lays out interactive elements in a predictable order, simplifying navigation for keyboard-only users.

A good example of operable web content is Mighty Network’s website. Each element on it has a predictable and logical order. In addition, the website interface is easily navigable with keyboard controls. It’s also complete with ALT text and ARIA tags for users with screen readers. 

Image sourced from 

ALT: Mighty Network’s home page

Is the Content Understandable?

A winning customer marketing funnel starts with your audience understanding the message you’re trying to pass.  

Creating understandable content involves considering any physical or cognitive impairment members of the audience may have. As such, it’s best to keep the message simple. 

  • Use plain, simple language—short sentences with common everyday words. 
  • Avoid jargon and explain any technical terms used. 
  • Use clean, legible fonts and 12 points for font sizing. 
  • Apply adequate spacing between text to enhance readability for people with dyslexia. 
  • Make the overall content layout scannable and easy to skim. 

Page Design Best Practices to Make Digital Content Accessible

Page design and structure play more prominent roles in accessibility considerations. Below are some basic guidelines to improve content accessibility through page design.

Use Semantic HTML

Using proper HTML markup and structure allows assistive technologies to interpret and present content accurately to users. This involves the appropriate use of headings, lists, and even punctuation. 

Evaluate SEO content on your websites, looking out for HTML features like alt attributes, proper labeling and validation messages for web forms, and HTML tags. 

Double Down on Keyboard Accessibility

Ensure all interactive elements are operable with a keyboard. This makes it easy for users without a mouse to navigate through pages and interact with the content.

Image created by the author

ALT: Tips for content marketers to ensure keyboard accessibility

Use Consistent Navigation and Structure

Consistent navigation makes it easier for users to navigate the web page and interact with the content. Users can quickly memorize the location of each page element and create a mental map of your website. 

  • Arrange content into H1, H3, H3, headings, and so forth. 
  • Group similar content together as much as possible. For instance, instructions on using TTY (Text Telephone) support features on an enterprise phone system should come in list form.
  • Use HTML to highlight important elements. An example is emboldening key information to call attention to it.  

Conduct User Testing

Conducting usability testing with people who have disabilities helps identify accessibility issues and ensures content is suitable for all users. Also, you can leverage tools like WAVE and Dynomapper to measure and monitor your website’s accessibility. 

Pantheon competitors that facilitate easy web content maintenance are key to implementing results from user tests. Web developers in your team can leverage them to integrate any conclusions drawn from user testing, ensuring online content is up-to-date with accessibility standards. 

Foster Inclusivity Through Accessible Content Curation

Creating accessible content is a fundamental principle of inclusivity and user-centered design. As a content manager, you’re responsible for ensuring that everything you put online is accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical or cognitive disabilities. 

With the tips and framework described above, you’ll soon be on your way to getting your content to that point across all your channels and platforms.

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About the Author

Jenna Bunnell
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, Canadian VoIP provider and AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Check out her LinkedIn profile.