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[UPDATED] Accessibility Tips For Inclusive Design in Digital Spaces

This post was originally published on May 19, 2022 and has been updated for 2024.

Keyboard with a zoom accessibility symbols.

Thursday, May 16, 2024, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. This day encourages people to start thinking, talking, and learning about digital access and inclusion because everyone deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web.

As marketers, we can do our part to connect with people from all walks of life by making digital media accessible through inclusive design. It is not only the right thing to do but also the law.

After serving as a project manager for a client's accessibility audit, we've compiled some of the common WCAG2.1 standards to consider when planning your next web redesign or digital project.*

Standards for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired In a recent study, New Window U.S. researchers found that an estimated 7.3 million Americans have a vision disability, ranging from impaired vision to total blindness. This means that they need assistive technology to access the internet and all it offers. The following standards should be implemented to ensure compatibility with assistive technology like screen readers: 

  • Alt Text: Your images need to have alternative text (or alt text) or an image description. Adding these descriptions allows images to be read by screen readers for visitors with visual impairments.

  • Page Structure: Screen readers also need a design that helps them differentiate the page's structure by tagging headings, heading definitions, and organized heading tags.

    • The main heading is the title of your page. Adding and defining the main header tells site visitors what the page is about.

    • The heading definition allows visitors to navigate your site by communicating your page content hierarchy with screen readers.

    • Removing duplicate tags ensures that the heading is clear for your visitors. Duplicate heading tags can occur when a line breaks in a heading, leading to not being able to be read correctly by screen readers.

  • Contrast Text: Another common accessibility standard for visitors who have vision impairments that is often missed stems from low contrast text, mainly due to color contrast. The required standards are:

    • Changing the text color and background color contrast to a ratio of 4.5:1 for standard text and 3:1 for large text.

    • Using a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 for graphics and user interface components (form input borders, placeholders, etc.).

    • And knowing Level AAA requires a higher contrast ratio of at least 7:1 for standard text and 4.5:1 for large text.

Tip: You can use the WEB AIM's Contrast Checker to test for color contrast. It compares the foreground and background colors using the web or hex color codes.

Standards for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

About 466 million people worldwide, and 15% of Americans have deafness, hearing loss, and/or are hard of hearing. You can start to provide an inclusive digital space by offering the following attributes to your website: 

  • Transcripts, Subtitles, and Captions: Transcripts provide audio information to a person who is Deaf or Hard of hearing. Keep your video content updated with accurate subtitles and captions, including descriptions of non-spoken sounds like thunder, laughter, etc.

  • Multiple Contact Options: Be sure to provide several ways for someone to contact you on your website and other networks other than your phone number. Offer other means of communication, such as email, video calls, live webchat, or online forms.

As you can see, these are a few of the many WCAG21 standards that help web designers meet the needs of people with disabilities. We recommend working with an accessibility consultant on your next web redesign. Not sure where to start? We can help! Schedule a mini-strategy session today. 

*ADA laws and digital standards are complex and change frequently. While NEW Marketing Solutions makes every effort to meet or exceed accessibility standards, we are not experts, nor do we provide legal advice on accessibility on the web.


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