Digital accessibility:
3 things to optimise today

In the Netherlands, about 35% of the people have a disability. That comes down to about 6 million people who may experience problems when visiting websites. This is due to disabilities such as deafness, poor vision, dyslexia or low literacy. By working on digital accessibility, you ensure an inclusive website. Because everyone is welcome, right? Find out what you can do today to make websites more accessible!

 

WHAT IS DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY?

Digital accessibility means that everyone can use the information on a website. Also, when he or she has to live with a disability. Digital accessibility ensures that a site is optimised for this group of people. For example, you can add alternative texts (alt-text) that describe an image. This ensures that reading software can describe the image to a partially sighted person. Digital accessibility thus prevents the exclusion of a large group of people. 

For Dutch government agencies, digitally accessible websites and mobile apps have already been compulsory since 2021. With the upcoming European legislation, the European Accessibility Act, a legal obligation for all companies will come into effect in 2025. It is a new requirement that sometimes requires some adjustments, but also brings many benefits. It is a good idea to start working on it now.

 

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF DIGITALLY ACCESSIBLE WEBSITES?

The biggest advantage is of course that a large group of people can use the site and content. But there are other benefits of making websites more accessible. 

  • Enlarging your audience
    More people can use the website and therefore you increase the range. This also results in more people having the opportunity to convert.

  • It improves the findability in search engines
    It is not for nothing that they say: "What is good for the user is good for Google." Some of these optimisations, such as adding alt-texts, contribute positively to findability. Provided it is implemented properly.

  • It contributes to your reputation and customer loyalty
    A Forbes study shows that 88% of respondents feel more loyal towards companies that are socially engaged.

  • It makes a website future-proof
    In view of the approaching ageing of the population, a larger group of Dutch people will probably also have to deal with visual limitations.

  • It saves costs
    Optimising a website now requires an investment, but in the long run it will ensure that a large group of people can use a website independently without extra help or information. This saves the costs of other communication channels, such as a helpdesk.


Checklist For a DIGITALLY ACCESSIBLE WEBSITE

So, there are plenty of reasons to start working on a website that is accessible to everyone. Are you designing a new website or optimising your current site? This mini checklist will quickly help you take a few steps towards a digitally accessible site.


1. Accessible language and text

Text is an important part of a website. It provides structure and information. Adding text to a site already makes it accessible. Texts can be easily processed by assistive technologies. Think of reading out loud or automatically translating texts. Still, there are several things you have to take into account.

  • Choose the right language and use a language level that suits the target group. Most Dutch people have language level B1.
  • Give the text a clear structure - page headings, subheadings and possibly lists can increase its clarity.
  • Check whether the structure of the text is correct and contains the correct HTML coding. Think H1, H2, H3 and so on. This allows technology, such as a screen reader, to read the text properly.
  • Make sure that titles and headings describe the content of the text that follows.
  • Indicate clearly if your website is also available in other languages.


2. Clarifying images and sound

As the proverb says, "A picture is worth a thousand words." By adding images, infographics and videos, you convey a message in a visual way. Keep the following things in mind:

  • Choose to make complex texts simpler by using images or a video. For example, an infographic, a 'how to' video or an instructional video.
  • Add a text alternative to an image or video. For example, reading software can read the text aloud or a program can convert the alt text to Braille. This makes the message understandable to someone who cannot see the image.
  • Describe both the function and the message of the video: what the video does and what it shows.
  • Provide a video with subtitles. Ideally, a special subtitle for the hearing impaired which also describes events in the video.
  • Add a transcript to the video so that the story of the video can be read aloud.
  • Use an audio description. An audio description describes the setting of the video and tells all the visual aspects that you cannot hear.


3. User experience: simple UX

Make a website accessible by creating a good User Experience (UX). Investigate the flow of a website and immerse yourself in the target group. In short, learn and understand how people use your website. Pay attention to the following things, amongst others.

  • Research the online findability of websites: is the information easy to find?
  • Have experts look at conversion optimization. Do many people visit the site, but few users convert? Then there may be something wrong with the communication, technology or flow.
  • Check the navigation structure - is it logical, is the flow right and is it what people expect?
  • Choose the right fonts and colours. Some fonts are difficult to read for people with dyslexia. Also, some colour contrasts are so low that people cannot distinguish text or surfaces properly.
  • Add an internal search function to the website.
  • Create clear forms with a targeted instruction, logical flow, predictable operation, and easy submission. Also make sure there are few distractions while filling out the form. For example, leave out moving banners or unnecessary information.

Getting started with digital accessibility

Consider digital accessibility when designing your website. Your website will be more inclusive, reach more people, convert more, and generate more revenue. Are you working on a new website?

Do you want to improve your current website? SowiesoHelder is happy to help and makes sure that your story is right from A to Z. Want to know more? Please contact us without any obligations.

 

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