Global accessibility – Everyone deserves a quality digital experience (and it’s easy to do!)

Estimated reading time
4 minutes
18th May 2022
Author: Sabrina Stubbs
Posted in: Content Distribution & Promotion, Content Operations, Content Production, Customer Insights, Legal, Psychology & Science, Technology, The Turtl Product

May 19th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and to mark the day we’re asking a big question – why is so much of the content that we engage with still so inaccessible?

A graph indicating WebAIM’s 2022 website accessibility report, a study based on the automated analysis of a million home pages, found that 96.8% of all web pages failed to fully conform to WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines. That figure is down from 97.4% last year, indicating that while progress is happening, it remains glacially slow.

For the one billion people around the world living with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments, the above figure translates into inconvenient, unequal, and inaccessible digital experiences every day.

Meeting everyone’s needs and providing them with intuitive, accessible content experiences is undoubtedly the right thing to do. But, by most conceivable metrics, it’s also the smart thing to do.

When content is accessible, everybody wins 🏆

When we create content, above all else, we’re looking for one thing – engagement. We write things to be read, record things to be heard, and build eye-catching assets to be clicked. When we make our content more accessible, we expand its potential audience, giving more people the chance to engage with it. Everybody wins.

But it’s not just about expanding your potential audience. Improving content accessibility improves experiences for everyone, not just those with specific accessibility requirements. Text is more readable, and journeys become smoother and more intuitive, which typically adds up to:

  • More shares because readers are far more likely to share content that’s complete and readable for them
  • Greater loyalty amongst an audience that knows they can depend on you for high quality, accessible content
  • Longer average sessions with fewer issues that lead to immediate reader deflections away from a page

a finger indicated at a laptop screen

So, if increasing accessibility can bring measurable content performance improvements, improve perceptions of your brand, and improve experiences for millions of people, surely people don’t need to be told to do it. Right?

From recommendation to requirement: Accessibility becomes mandated 🧑‍⚖️

In May 1999, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the first set of WCAG guidelines. It laid out 14 general principles of accessible design that together help ensure digital content and experiences are easy for people with vision, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments to access and engage with.

Since then, WCAG guidelines have evolved and expanded multiple times, with the latest version – WCAG 2.2 – scheduled to be finalized and published by the end of this year. As the guidelines evolved over the last two decades, the way the guidelines are enforced has transformed too.

Every day, more countries are taking steps to make accessibility a legal obligation for creators and curators of digital content. And in countries like the US where they’ve been a requirement for several years, both enforcement and cases of civil litigation are on the rise. 

With legislative pressure growing, it’s no longer a case of if you take steps to improve content accessibility, but rather when and how you do it. For the when, we recommend starting today. As for the how, below are three simple tips you can put into action immediately to start improving accessibility and moving toward compliance.

a tech team working on various laptops to ensure global accessibility

Three small actions that can have a big impact on accessibility 📚

❶ Create alt text for every image

Missing alt text is the second-most common reason why web pages fail to meet WACG 2.0 guidelines – with a huge 55.4% of all home pages missing alt text for at least one image.

Many screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters, so practically speaking, there isn’t much to create. All you need is a short, succinct description of what each image depicts, which will ensure there are never any gaps in your content – however a reader consumes it.

❷ Be mindful of reader styles 

If your content reaches even a modestly-sized audience, they will view through smartphones, desktop devices, a variety of browsers, dedicated file viewers, and assisted screen reading tools.

It’s important to consider those different content consumption journeys. Make sure that wherever and however users engage with your content, what they see is both consistent and complete.

❸ Make navigation intuitive and clutter-free

For people with cognitive disabilities, poorly-presented information, and overloaded pages are more than just points of frustration. They’re unnecessary barriers that can turn a user off your content or your website for life.

The easier your content is to navigate, the longer people will read – regardless of their accessibility needs. So, making everything as simple and intuitive to explore as possible just makes sense.

a cluttered desk of tech, illustrating how global accessibility is different for everyone

Access makes things easier. So Turtl is making global accessibility easy.

At Turtl, we believe that greater context accessibility is better for everyone. Every creator, every publisher, every consumer, and even every SEO robot that crawls through your content. So, we’re constantly working on new capabilities to make content created with Turtl as accessible as possible.

We’ll have more information about our latest accessibility capabilities to share with you soon. But until then, we hope you find the tips in this blog and our accompanying Turtl Guide useful. Start building more accessible, compliant content today.

A man in glasses reading a computer screen for Turtl's global accessibility guide

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