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  • Writer's picturePeta

Making The Web Accessible To Disabled People

Peta explores how to make websites and social media more inclusive for people with disabilities; sharing insights on captions, alternative text for images, colour contrast, keyboard navigation, and plain language use. Join Peta as she demystifies the world of online accessibility and advocates for a more inclusive web experience.

Check your website accessibility:

Accessible websites:

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Connect with Peta:

Instagram: @petahooke




Episode transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast. The podcast answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peta. I had cerebral palsy and I'm your host. This week I'm going back to basics. I'm answering a question. How do I make my website or my social media accessible to people with disabilities? If you have a question that you'd like me to answer for a future episode of the podcast, you can get in contact with me by my Instagram. My handle is at Peta Hooke, or you can send me an email. I can't Stand podcast. I do. Malcolm So that any further ado, let's get into it.

[00:01:02] Now would probably be remiss me to not explain to you what online accessibility is before I move on. And I also just want to flag that even though I'm a person with a disability, I'm not an expert in this field whatsoever. So we're learning together what makes things accessible for people online. Online accessibility refers to the design and development of digital content. So we're talking websites, apps, social media. I think the biggest explosion that I've noticed with online accessibility is how often captions are now shown on all different pieces of content, particularly on social media. I personally never post a video or any story on my social media with that captions because it ensures that people with hearing impairments can take in the information and interact with my platform. Not only that, I know many people use social media without the sound on, so captions can actually help all sorts of people, including people with hearing impairments. But I do find there's a big gap between websites, for example, and social media. Often I'll go into a person's social media and they're really diligent with their captions, and yet you go onto their website and there are no captions whatsoever. I think people are still learning how needed captions are and there's so in-built in many applications these days. They're really easy thing for you to quickly implement in your social media or your web content.

[00:02:49] And I know this might sound a bit odd from a podcast host, but I've always been really self-conscious with how I pronounce things and how breathy I can be. So I know that by me putting on captions, people are able to understand me better.

[00:03:09] When we then consider people with vision impairment and how they interact with content, it's really important to have something called alternative text. This relates to having text that's alongside images or embedded with images to explain to screen readers or people with vision impairments. What the image is. Images are an important cue and context to any brand or service, and it should be no different when considering people with disabilities. To include all text you can either embedded in the back end of your website, make sure you label images saved on your computer. If you're going to use that same file name, make sure it is descriptive because that is what a screen reader is going to tell the consumer when they engage with your website. From a social media perspective, an example, if you go on to my Instagram, I use image descriptions after every post and reel. So basically I'm describing what is visually happening on screen to the consumer of my content. But please be aware with what you write and how you describe something. So, for example, if your website or your social media, you need to include a graph or a chart. Please just don't write the title of the chart because it doesn't actually illustrate what the chart is telling the reader. If you couldn't see the chart on the screen, how would you then be able to interpret it? So please include interpretations and learnings within your alternative text on your images and your social media as well.

[00:05:17] Colour contrast is also vitally important to people with vision impairment. I'm sure you understand and have had experiences in your own life where you read a logo or you read text that is been put on a coloured background that is hard to decipher. Making things easy to decipher and understand, of course, makes it easier for people with certain disabilities, but it also just makes good business sense to make things easy to consume. Again like captions. Good colour contrast can really benefit everyone. We all know that the bounce rates on websites, how often somebody comes to your website and how long they stay on your website is really short. So the easier that information is for somebody to understand and to find, the better their experience will be with your friend or service.

[00:06:27] Not everybody has the ability to use a mouse or use a trackpad. Many people in the disability community use keyboards. So it's important when you're building your website that it can be navigated via a keyboard. It's also important to consider websites and your social media for people who have sensory disabilities. So looking at colour contrast, looking at making sure your website is really logical and being able to help people find their information quickly, once it becomes overwhelming or too hard, you're going to have really high bounce rates on your social media or your website.

[00:07:14] The use of plain language or easy English, I think is really important. It allows for more people to be able to consume your website, your content, whatever you're selling for them, to be able to comprehend and understand how to interact with your website as well.

[00:07:35] There are online tools that can help you better understand how accessible your website is currently. I'll link them in the description. You can bet that I'll be posting today the day this episode comes out, how accessible my website is and the reports that I'm given. Now because you all the beautiful audience you are, I am assuming a lot of you would want to do this by default because you want to include as many people as possible. However, there are some really measurable good examples as to why companies and people on social media should make their content more accessible. First and foremost, it gives an improved user experience. As I mentioned earlier in this episode, these techniques not only help people with disabilities, but also help the wider community and make your content easier to consume. It also will help you expand your audience. Reach By making the accessible online environment, you can reach a broader audience, including people with disabilities who would otherwise not engage with your content. More website traffic, more engagement, more potential customers in all, just make sense. By illustrating this sort of inclusion and that your thinking about disabled people when you're online, it enhances your reputation and your brand image. If you have a brand by default, it's bringing more customers to your brand, but also gives really good PR and an overall positive perception of your business because of including this market. An accessible website, often by default, means that it is better for search engine optimisation or SEO. So it basically means that Google or whatever other search engine you're using is more likely to be able to efficiently read your website and bring you up as a relevant piece of information when people are trying to search for you.

[00:09:58] As of 2022, only 3% of the Internet is accessible. Clearly people with disabilities are not being properly service in the market and this really, really needs to change. So lots of opportunity there. After you've looked at the accessibility of your website via the link that I'll put in the description. I thought it would be good to give you some visual representation or some links in the description of websites that are really held up as being accessible. I'm going to give you three really good examples of an accessible website. However, these websites are only integrating possibly one or two versions of accessibility into their website. They're not implementing all the suggestions I've spoken about all into one website. So for example, the BBC, the British news website is a top notch example of accessible news websites and how news websites should be constructed going forward. They have a really good cable navigation system. So for people who was unable to use a mouse and able to use a trackpad, they can use a keyboard and navigate and read the news by their keyboard. This next one really surprised me. The event management platform, which I know is event buys, has been said to be one of the best forms of accessible content because you are able to skip content. So when we're talking about people with sensory disabilities, they are less likely to become overwhelmed with the amount of information and the amount of stimuli within a website really easy to implement and also makes it more user friendly for most consumers as well. The last example I'm going to bring to you today is Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company and their extensible e-commerce website was really interesting because it's really well structured. It divides its content into logical categories, making it easier for the customer to find things.

[00:12:25] Before I finish up, I think it's important to say that that while there tends to be a reliance on accessible tools online that's powered by AI, that can be really helpful and give you an overall understanding of how you can improve your website. Please do not undervalue the power of talking to disabled people. Having focus groups or having the ability to gain feedback from people who are going to use your website or social media to help them better engage with your content is only going to be a good thing. By utilising people with lived experience, they're going to highlight things that you're just not going to be able to think about. Even for me, if I was to go about redesigning my website today. I would ask other people with disabilities for their help. So while possibly I use the future, and while it could probably help many of us, including me, build better content that is more accessible to people at its heart, disabled people still need to be part of the conversation.

[00:13:41] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. It's been a while since I've read out research to you and talk to you, just us. So I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, can I encourage you to leave a writing interview wherever you listen to your podcast? I've seen that on Spotify. We now have 17 reviews, and on Apple we have 63. So thank you everyone who's left our writing on review. I really appreciate it. As I said at the top of the episode, if you ever have a question that you'd like me to answer, please let me know. But until next week. Have a good one, guys. Bye. I'd like to pay my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, but especially to the partner young people where this podcast was recorded.

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