Over 1 billion people worldwide have a disability, which represents an enormous segment of our population who are underserved since most businesses fall short of having a fully accessible digital user experience. Accessible marketing uses inclusive design to make it possible for people of all abilities to fully experience your marketing efforts, and ultimately gives people with disabilities the same opportunities as able bodied people.

There are countless benefits for businesses who work to make their digital marketing efforts accessible to all. It not only has a positive impact on their audience, but it also expands their consumer base, improves their SEO, as well as enhances their user experience.

While incorporating accessible digital marketing may seem like a daunting task, it is most easily achieved by keeping in mind the experience of those with vision, hearing, motor or communicative impairments. This helps you to better understand the barriers they may face and help you to make adjustments to your digital marketing to ensure it’s inclusive.

Here are questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re keeping accessibility in mind:

  1. What movements will a user need to perform to interact with your content?
  2. What is a user seeing, such as text, colours, and graphics, that they may need explained in order to better understand your content?
  3. What sounds does your content produce in order for a user to understand it?
  4. How easy is it to interpret your content?

It’s also important to get feedback from audience segments who may face barriers consuming your content whenever possible to ensure it’s accessible rather than making assumptions.

With all that said, below we’ve outlined how to make your digital marketing accessible in the following three areas:

Content

Whether you’re writing content for your website, social media, or email campaigns, it’s important that it is inclusive to people with all types of disabilities. You’ll want to keep in mind the structure of your writing, if there are headings in your body text, you’ll want to use the H2 tag instead of just enlarging your font to make sure it’s accessible to those with visual impairments using a screen reader. This helps make your content easier to follow. Additionally, you’ll want to use descriptive link text, rather than just “click here”, you’ll want to say “click here to download a tip sheet” so that someone with a screen reader knows where the link leads to.

When it comes to accessing files or links, you’ll want to make sure that those documents are accessible as well. And lastly, you’ll want to keep your sentences short and avoid jargon so that it is simple to read for those with a cognitive impairment.

Design

An accessible design ensures that everyone can understand the meaning of your visual content from videos to images. Similar to content accessibility, inclusive design principles appeal to all types of digital marketing such as your website, social media, and email campaigns. All videos should have both closed captioning to accommodate someone with a hearing impairment and a descriptive transcript of the video so that any visual aspects can be understood by visually impaired individuals. All images should have alt-text which is a short and clear description of what is going on in the image so that someone using a screen reader can consume it as well.

From a design perspective, all text should be easy to read so that it is inclusive. Ensure that font colours and the background colour are high contrast for those with a visual impairment. If you’re unsure if the colour combinations you’ve chosen are high contrast enough, use a colour contrast checker. When it comes to fonts, you should try to stick to one font type that is clear and spaced out such as Times New Roman or Arial. Always make your font as large as possible and use bold to emphasize words rather than italics.

Website

While content and design are key components of making your website accessible, there are other factors to it as well. Digital marketers should focus on keyboard navigation that allows users to tab through menus, buttons, and other elements for those who have visual or motor disabilities and cannot use a mouse or trackpad.

CTA (call-to-action) buttons are critical to marketing success and as such, you’ll want to make sure they’re accessible as well. By adding ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes to your HTML, you can give screen readers the proper information they need to complete the action and know what they are accessing. It’s also better to have a button embedded into the website using an accessible name rather than inserting an image that’s clickable. With this in mind, having accessible CTA buttons may require help from a website development team.

Lastly, if your business has a storefront location, it is important to mention whether or not it’s physically accessible on the ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact Us’ webpage so that people with disabilities aren’t faced with unforeseen barriers should they choose to visit your business.

Ultimately, whatever the next marketing steps are for your business, we hope that you will keep accessibility in mind. If you’re looking to implement accessibility into your digital marketing strategy but don’t know where to begin, feel free to contact us today for help.

Alita Fabiano

Author Alita Fabiano

Specializing in strategic communications, content marketing, SEO, and digital accessibility, Alita Fabiano has a passion for creating and managing digital content to help organizations thrive. Alita’s insights have also been published in the Ottawa Business Journal and Canadian SME Magazine, as well as she has been invited to speak to several organizations about inclusivity and accessibility.

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