Friday, 23 August 2019

How to make your blog and social media as accessible as possible

Accessibility on my blog has always been on my mind, trying to think about accessible aesthetics; making my blog look nice but having a good enough contrast between the text and the background and have easy read fonts. Early on in my blog I also installed a plug-in widget which I'll mention more about below. This also comes from needing to use accessible features myself. I use things like magnification, large cursors, text readout and bigger legible fonts, but I didn't want to make the font huge as I knew this wouldn't appeal to all readers, plus it would lead to a lot of scrolling which is why the plug-in widget is perfect. On my blog the font is fine, but users who do struggle with the vision can have the option of either use their own software or the plug-in widget.

I'm now becoming even more acutely aware of accessibility so I've been looking at moving forwards and improving on accessibility.

So, how can you make your blog and social media more accessible?


Font Size and Colour

Use a clear legible font such as ariel, comic sans, helvetica, verdana or something similar.
Don't make your font size too small.
Have a good clear contrast between your background colour and text colour. Dark fonts against light backgrounds work best.

Plug-in Accessibility Widgets

Add a plug-in accessibility widget. You can find ones for free such as User Way which is super easy to set up and install on your blog via a html code. These plug-in widgets offer features such as the ability to enlarge text, change the contrast, have a reading bar, read the page, highlight links and more.

Headings and Subheadings

Use headings. This helps people to navigate your website more easily and skip through to the parts they wish to read. It also makes your posts more organised.


Hyperlinks

Make hyperlinks clear. Rather than just typing "click here" type for example "check out my page on..." You can also make hyperlinks clearer by having them in a different colour to the main body of text. Plug-in accessibility widgets can also highlight links making them clearer to viewers.

Labelling Links and Buttons

By labelling links and buttons it makes it easier for those using screen reading software or magnification. By doing this readers don't have to press a button without knowing what it is, especially if is a link to another website.

Adding Closed Captions (CC)/Subtitles

Adding CC/subtiles to your videos will greatly increase your viewing numbers. Many people use CC/subtiles who aren't D/deaf or hard of hearing - I'm not but I often use subtitles as I find it helps me understand what I'm watching especially if I'm feeling brain fogged.
When adding CC/subtitles use clear, easy to read simple fonts on an accessible background such as black text on a white or yellow background.
Apps such as Apple Clips (free), Clipomatic (£4.99) and CutStory (unlock record for £1.99) which allows you to make videos which autogenerate subtitles to share on social media such as Instagram stories.
On YouTube you can also add CC/subtitles which also are autogenerated and adding CC to the video title will invite more viewers as the auto subtitles aren't always correct an you can get some odd sentences.
From experience I would say that on YouTube an apps hat autogenerate subtitles to double check and edit the the subtitles to ensure what is being spoken is correct in the subtitles. It also benefits viewers if you add CC which give extra information such as [♫] to indicate to the reader that music playing or you could write [acoustic music] or [background chatter]

Transcripts

If you can't get CC/subtitles an alternative to this is to write a transcript of the video. If you have an audio feature make a transcript and this allows D/deaf and hear of hearing readers of your blog to read what is being said. If their are sound affects add these too, such as [♫] to indicate to the reader that music playing or you could write [acoustic music] or [background chatter].

Audio

If you do want to go the extra mile in terms of accessibility as well as the text of you blog you could if you wish make a recording of what is written to give readers the option of reading or listening to your blog post. 
(This is something I am considering doing as I know which my dyslexia and brain fog mix I'd find listening to a blog post easier than reading but I'd need more energy and work out the logistics first.)
As an alternative to alt text/image descriptions you could make an audio description of the image.

Videos and Audio

Avoid using video and audio that starts automatically. This makes it easier to navigate your blog better. It also makes it more accessible for those who use screen reading software as they have to listen to their screen reader and the audio at the same time.

Alt Text (Alternative Text) and Image Descriptions

Alt text gives a audio description of images to those who use screen reading software.
To make your social media really accessible take a few moments to write alt text. Often, such as on Facebook the automatic alt text that is generated is very poor so you're best editing it yourself.
On your blog you can write an image description such as in the image's caption.
An example of alt text/image description could be:

Image result for coffee with notebook
A wooden worktop with a blue cup and saucer
of coffee next to a notebook and pen.
or...

Image description

A wooden worktop with a blue cup and saucer of coffee next to a notebook and pen.

Summary and Thanks

I hope these tips have helped give you insight and they will help you to make you blog or social media account more accessible, or just make you more aware off different accessibility needs.

Thank you to Holly at www.lifeofablindgirl.com and Deafie Blogger www.deafieblogger.com

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