Live from UXPA: Accessibility for Content Strategists and Designers

Accessibility for Content Strategists and Designers, by Janell Sims

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Accessibility is for everyone. People with physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities, temporary (tendonitis!) or permanent, etc. Harvard has a new digital accessibility policy, and Janell is super excited.

Why is Accessibility Critical?

Morally, it’s the right thing to do. But also, you will get sued otherwise. Plus, it creates a better experience for everyone.

What Can You Do?

  1. Meaningful, intentional alt-text. Helpful for screen readers, for situations where the image might be broken, and great for SEO. Alt text should convey the function of the image, and the intention of the creator.
  2. Descriptive page titles. Tells people where they are! Makes search work better, and (of course) better for screen readers.
  3. Correct use of header tags. Don’t use header tags for styling! They are meant for navigation and browsing.
  4. Link text. Never ever ever write click here!! It makes it impossible for people to know where the link goes when that information is pulled out of context.
  5. Contrast ratio. How you see color can depend on gender, age, and many other things. Tools like Color Oracle can help. Also, you can use more than just color to convey meaning. Aside from the localization issues (colors don’t have the same meanings in every culture), using more than just color makes it less likely people will mis-see. Use icons, shapes, etc.
  6. Multimedia captions and transcriptions. Everything needs them – and not just auto captions. Auto captions are really bad!
  7. Get buy-in. Your team needs to be on board, or it won’t be successful. They need to understand why accessibility is important, not just have a list of things to do.
  8. Create a process. Accessibility needs to be included in every project. You need measurable goals to improve accessibility. Plus, you can’t do everything. Focus on the most trafficked and popular pages. And share progress reports with editors, so that they can make updates.

“Accessibility is not the cherry on top of the sundae it should really be something you think about from the start.”

Haben Girma, Harvard Law School ’13

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