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How to Write More Accessible Website Content

One of the best digital trends of the last decade has been the constant evolution towards total inclusion for those with disabilities, particularly those with disabilities that prevent them from interacting with a website in a traditional way.

At Click Rain, this is something we are passionate about. We have dedicated accessibility experts on staff who keep up-to-date with the latest accessibility standards and requirements for both development and content creation. In fact, all websites we develop and write content for are at least level ‘A’ compliant. We always aspire for ‘AA’ level, but client brand colors and other decisions sometimes impact this.

We know that not everyone has the time to devote to keeping up with the latest standards. That’s why we’ve pulled together the top content components you should consider to ensure your website content is accessible and your message is inclusive to all. 

Tips for Writing Accessibility-Focused Website Content

1: Ensure Your Web Page Follows Proper Heading Structure

Headings one through six visual discriptor

Header Tags are used to identify and separate headings and subheadings on a website. They rank in order of importance from H1s to H6s and can be referred to as Headlines or Headings. 

Header Tags provide website viewers with a structural understanding of the content. They help to break up text and group like-information to be more digestible and scannable. 

This is especially important for accessibility tools such as screen readers. 

Screen readers utilize headings to allow users to understand where they are at on the page as well as give them an option to skip right to the information they are interested in. 

2: Utilize Descriptive Alt Text on Images 

A blazing orange sun sets over a field of hay where two cows are grazing

Alt text is designed to provide a descriptor of a photo or graphic on a website. As accessibility tools crawl over photos, they read aloud the alt text so those with vision impairments can understand the context of the image. 

Writing properly formatted alt text is key to giving your website users with disabilities a robust website experience. Here’s some quick tips for writing alt text:

  • Describe the image fully.

    Think about it as if the user with a disability is sitting across from you. How would you describe a photo to them? Would you just say: “A pretty sunset”? Or would you say, “A blazing orange sun sets over a field of hay where two cows are grazing”?

  • Utilize keywords, but don’t get stuffy.

    Keywords help give context to the image as well as make your content show up better in search engine queries. However, don’t try to beat the search engine game by “stuffing” lots of keywords into your alt text. Alt text should first and foremost be written for those with disabilities in mind and search engines second.

  • Keep it short.

    Most screen readers cut off at about 125 characters. While you want to be fully descriptive, keep it concise and ensure the most important aspects are included.

  • No need to include “image of” in alt text.

    The user will understand through the screen reader technology that this is a photo. Therefore there is no need to use terms such as “Image of” or “Photo of” in your alt text.

3: Implement Closed Captioning Or Transcripts For Videos Featured On Your Site

An example of closed captions on a video

Video accessibility is an aspect that often gets overlooked but is extremely important as video continues to trend up. Implementing Closed Captioning is not an easy step, but if video is a main format you use to connect with your audience and provide information, it is vital to consider.

4: Don’t Forget About Descriptive Link Text

Call to action (CTA) text is one of the most difficult bits of microcopy to write for a website. You want to entice someone to click a link or button, but need to do so in only a few words. Throw on the need to make CTA text accessible and you have a real challenge. 

Often, the default is to write something like “Learn More” or “Read More” or even “click here” and call it good. But for those who are utilizing your website through accessibility tools, that might not be descriptive enough. Try making link text more meaningful and provide a description of the action a user will take if they click. Something like “Learn About Taxes” or “Download Proposal” is more descriptive.  

Another method that Click Rain utilizes to ensure CTA text is accessible is to utilize an Aria Label for buttons in our CMS of choice, Craft. This label gives us the ability to add a longer form description of the button to make them detailed, while utilizing shorter CTA text for the button itself. This is just another example of our commitment to making websites inclusive for all.

5: Keep Your Content at an Inclusive Reading Level

Flesch-Kincaid reading level scale by grade
Aim for grade 8 to ensure your content can be read by 80% of Americans.

Inclusivity doesn’t mean just for those with physical disabilities. It can also mean making sure your content is digestible and understandable by the broader audience. We recommend writing content for your website at a Flesch-Kincaid grade level of 8 or less. This will ensure that most website visitors are able to understand what it is that you do and how you can serve their needs. 

This can be difficult for some industries, especially those that are complex in nature. For such industries, there can be some flex for your target reading level, but it is still in your best interest to simplify as much as possible. 

We recommend the Hemingway App to check content as you write. This app will tell you what your reading level is at and make content suggestions as to what is making your copy difficult to understand.

If you’re curious, Hemingway rates this article as a Grade 8 reading level.

Let’s Continue Making the Web Accessible For All

Ready to join us in making websites more inclusive but don’t know where to start? We’ve been there. We’d be happy to do an accessibility audit on your website to get a starting point and assist you on your journey.

Contact Us