COVID-19 has pushed much of our daily activities into the digital realm. So, as marketers, we need to spruce up our digital content to meet the challenge. People who have traditionally not accessed our content may now try to do so. Websites, articles, videos and social media posts need to be more accessible to the public, who are now spending more time online.
What is digital accessibility?
Accessibility is when a lot of different people can all use something easily. The term is often used when talking about people with disabilities. But generally, accessibility is when you make things accessible to this group of people and everyone else too.
Digital accessibility is about making a website, mobile application or electronic document easily navigable and understood by a wide range of users, including those who have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities. It refers to improving your website development, design and content so that people with disabilities, and everyone else too, can easily access it.
Why you need digital accessibility
Jane has a hearing impairment, which means she also has issues with balance. She feels overwhelmed when visiting a busy website, has a hard time navigating it and therefore she ultimately ditches the website.
But when Jane visits a clear and simple website, her experience is much improved. She can easily navigate it without becoming disoriented. And that’s not all. Jane’s friend John, who does not have a hearing difficulty, also likes clear and simple websites. Even for him these are a lot easier to navigate than a busy website.
As you can see, digital accessibility is not just for people with disabilities. It’s about improving your digital content for everyone in your audience.
Understand the diversity of your audience
Before crafting your accessible content, conduct some research on your audience. The Australian population is a diverse group, so you’ll inevitably need to address different people.
According to the Australian Government’s digital content guide, here’s an idea of what Australian diversity looks like:
- Nearly 1 out of 3 Australians are born overseas
- Nearly 1 out of 4 Australians live with a disability affecting their daily activities
- Nearly half of all Australians have a very low level of literacy.
As part of your content strategy, you’ll conduct audience research and create personas. This is the time to consider your audience’s cultural and linguistic diversity, people with disabilities and different literacy levels.
Here are some tips for improving accessibility:
- Simplify everything – from design to language, always use the simplest version possible
- Create video transcripts and image descriptions – helps people with hearing impairment. Also helps search engines catalogue your content (bonus!)
- Use video and image captions – helps people who can’t (or don’t want to) listen to audio view content.
What is inclusivity?
Inclusivity is related to accessibility, and is a useful thing to think about when crafting your content. When you address your audience, you want your words to speak to everyone and not leave anyone out.
Here are some tips to improve your content’s inclusivity:
- Use a readability checker – use Plain English where you can
- Avoid gendered pronouns – once, words like ‘mankind’, ‘he/she’ and ‘his/her’ were considered appropriate for all people. Not anymore! Where possible, avoid gendered pronouns to include women, transgender and intersex people
- Avoid discriminatory words – some words used in the past can be offensive to many today. Change words like ‘juveniles’ to ‘young people’ and ‘pensioners’ to ‘older people’
- Say ‘First Australians’ although ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ is also okay. But try to avoid using ATSI, Aborigines or Aboriginals.
Speak to people, not their differences
At a time when COVID-19 is forcing more of our activities online, it’s important that your digital content stands these tests. People who would traditionally not access your content may now do so. Make sure your content is accessible and inclusive for all and you’ll improve everyone’s experience of your brand.