5 simple ways you can dramatically improve your blog’s accessibility

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Thursday, 23 June 2016 16:43pm

Blogging encourages freedom of personal expression so it should be a right for anyone, regardless of disabilities or requirements, to have access to this vast pool of knowledge and community.  But what simple things can you do as a blogger, or a budding blogger, to make sure that your blog is accessible?  There are 5 simple ways that you can dramatically improve your blog’s accessibility.

Woman typing on her laptop, sitting on her bed

It’s fair to say that the blogging world has boomed in recent years, with more and more people starting a blog or reading a blog on a regular basis. You only have to whisper the world ‘Zoella’ to a tween and they know exactly who they are and get all starry-eyed. 

As reported by Social Media News Australia in early 2016, there are two main blogging websites used in Australia: Tumblr with approximately 4.5 million active visitors locally, and Wordpress.com with approximately 5.65 million unique visitors locally. Hattrick Associates estimated that there are one billion bloggers worldwide when factoring in online commentary for both personal and corporate use. 

If you are a blogger or have plans to create your own blog in the near future, then listen up for our 5 simple ways you can dramatically improve your blog’s accessibility, and ensure that everyone gets a fair chance of reading your blog  and being a part of the community.

1. Describe your images using alternative text

In order to make sure that your images are accessible, add some alternative text (or ‘alt text’) to them. In many tools the user is prompted to enter some text about an image when an image is added, but for people using the Blogger tool in BlogSpot they will need to follow some additional instructions.

Every time you have an image within a blog post, there should be alternative text to describe the image.  This is important because it means accessibility devices for blind or vision-impaired readers such as screen readers will read out the text and they can gain an understanding of the image.

For example, the alt text for the image below could be written as:

‘A person holds and points a remote control at a TV screen which has captions on the TV program’

A person holds and points a remote control at a TV screen which has captions on the TV program’

Read our practical guide to text alternatives, images, captchas and best practice

2. Colour contrast

Hues are perceived differently by users with colour-blindness.  Some people who also have a vision-impairment such as cataracts or declining vision may not to see certain content on a page if the contrast between two colours is too small. For example, if you have a link highlight a certain colour when you hover your mouse over it, and the colour contrast is too small, then it will not be seen by certain individuals, rendering it inaccessible.

The word 'Hello' written in white in a dark grey box

The word 'Hello' written in white in a pale blue box

The first image on the would be accessible and the second image would not be as the colour contrast isn’t great enough.

You can test out the colour contrast on your blog using the Colour Contrast Analyser tool and find out whether it complies with WCAG 2.0 requirements.

3. Correct headings

The different types of headings available on web pages aren’t there just to make the page look pretty.  They provide the reader with an insight to logical page structure.  Headings are defined with the <h1> to <h6> tags. <h1> defines the most important heading. <h6> defines the least important heading.  Not only is using this best practice great for accessibility, but search engines actually use your headings to index the structure and content of your web pages.

4. Make your link-text something relevant and meaningful

When linking to something, try and make the link-text relevant and meaningful.  The reason is that some assistive technologies such as screen-readers actually ‘link-hop’, and if there are lots of links on the page all just saying things like ‘click here’ ‘learn more’ then that’s what the user will read.  The word ‘here’ isn’t meaningful, and it doesn’t tell the reader who is ‘link-hopping’ what is on the page and what will happen when the link is clicked.

When creating a link for something, make the link-text relevant.  See this page for more information about accessibility and blogging. It will make it easier for people with disabilities visiting your blog to understand the nature of the content.

5. Have links open in the same window

Many people are aware of and may be told that links should open in a new window.  This is so that the user doesn’t leave the web page that they are on and can go back to it. However, this can make things confusing for those who are blind or have a vision-impairment and require a screen-reader to navigate around the internet. Besides, users can always use the ‘back’ button on their browsers if they wish.

Contact the Digital Accessibility Services team at Media Access Australia if you need help making your blog, website or digital communications accessible.

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