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How a11y could be impacting your business

If you've never heard of a11y and the world hasn't ended, why bother now? Because for 71% of your web visitors with disabilities, the world didn't end but their visit to your website just did.

In 2016, a study published in Forbes found that 71% of users with disabilities will leave a website that is not accessible.
Quite staggering, isn’t it? So here’s the lowdown on A11y.

A11y stands for accessibility (A, 11 characters then Y = Accessibility) and in the wider context the W3 has said that:

“Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.”

So by making sure your website, tools, and technologies are accessible you have opened up your business to an additional 71% of users (while undoubtedly making the experience better for your existing users).

“That’s all very well and good, but how do I make my product accessible?” I hear you say, and I’m happy you asked.

The best place to start? Your website. There are some simple things you can do to improve your rating, but it's important to remember that accessibility is always ongoing; it’s not a ‘once over and sit back to watch the sales come in’ task, it's a process. Below are my top 3 tips for getting on top of your accessibility.

  1. Give your images meaning

    When screen readers get to the images on your website, unless you’ve given that image an alt tag then it will essentially be read as ‘this is an image’. If the image is purely there for decoration then it’s not needed (or rather, a value of null is used), but if you’ve got an image that explains a diagram or provides meaning then an alt tag is essential to let whoever is using the screen reader context. The alt tag can be as simple as “Microsoft Partner logo”.

  2. Don’t rely solely on colour to convey meaning

    People who are colour blind or have other low vision conditions may not see what you’re trying to convey if you rely on colour alone. Consider provide accompanying text eg. if you’re using green to signify something has been verified, accompany it with some text saying ‘Success’ or similar messaging.

  3. Utilise captions on videos

    Ensure any video content you have is accompanied by captions to allow those with any impairments to understand your content too. Across the board it makes your content more easily digestible as many platforms will play video automatically muted.

Already an a11y pro and have some favourite top tips? We'd love to hear from you.

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