It’s been awhile since I’ve composed a geeky post… so here’s some information to all my fellow bloggers/designers and web developers.
I’m by no means an specialist in website accessibility, however I do teach web accessibility and have a nice Site Improve certification which is all integrated into my profession.
In the world of web and blogging, I’ve noticed a severe absence of accessibility on many blogs I follow, and it’s understandable. Many bloggers are not exposed or aware of the need for accessibility on their site. My mission is to help at least one blogger who’s reading this.
What does website/blog accessibility even mean?
Website Accessibility is about making web content available for as many users as possible, which includes those users who are limited by disabilities.
A disability can include:
- A lack of mobility – difficulty using a mouse or keyboard
- Being visually impaired – suffering from blindness or colour blindness – requiring screen readers and visual cues
We’re also venturing into an era where online readers are aging; demographics indicate an older clientele utilize the Internet more frequently. Considerations of readability (text size and colour) and Internet speed (Contrary to popular belief, many people still use dialup!) are points bloggers should take into consideration when posting content.
How do I Make my Blog Accessible?
Start simple, begin with your images.
Check your image file sizes, are they massive? Can you crop and scale them down a notch?
If you find your page load time is extremely long, large images/files could be a contributing factor. You may upload a file and your CMS automatically scales it down, but this doesn’t mean your image is now that size. The image size will continue to remain large and live on your server until it is cropped and re-saved.
Less is more: Although you may have many fabulous shots which compliment your text, scale back. Do you really need 5 pictures of the same thing?
What’s an Alt tag? And why should we use them?
An Alt tag is alternative text, which is used to describe an image on your blog. This is used to illustrate to a blind user what your photo is about. If you have a photo of a black and white spotted puppy sitting in a teacup, your ALT tag should read: “Black and white spotted puppy sitting in a teacup”.
Many users utilize ALT tags for the wrong reasons – Pinterest being the most common misdemeanor. Yes, ALT tags are handy for easy pinning with descriptions etc… but at the end of the day, someone on the other side of the screen may be using assistive technology, such as a screen reader to have the text read back to them aloud. Make ALT tags work in both accessibility and Pinibility favour. Create descriptions that will benefit both.
Text on Images:
Many, many, many bloggers add text to their images. We’re all guilty of this. I always add a small amount of text to my first image at the top of each post.
Because your text is embedded into your image, it’s compressed into a .jpg or .png format, which a screen reader cannot read. Therefore you MUST add an ALT tag to this image. Too many times I stumble across gorgeous imagery with text, only to discovery it has no ALT tags… or it reads as “picmonkey-collage4.jpg” (don’t get me started on PicMonkey). If you want ALL of your readers to comprehend your posts, please add ALT tags to describe your photo and the text, which follows.
But Alex… Hyperlinks with underlines are so 90’s!
Yes, Hyperlinks with underlines are so 1990… however, underlines serve a large purpose.
DO you want people to click your affiliated links? Do you want people to read previous posts and collect more information on what you’re blogging about….?
The answer is YES.
SO please… even if you’re Cher Horowitz, add an underline to any link you post, it indicates a call to action. YES, I see you have a different colour to differentiate a link vs. regular text, however someone who is colourblind cannot delineate between the two, and if you don’t believe me, take a look at this amazing example from “We Are Colour Blind…” and you’ll understand entirely.
Start simple with easy fixes to Images and Hyperlinks to make your blog/website more accessible.
Any thoughts comments? Feel free to share!
Stay tuned for a post about heading tags and links to make your blog more accessible.