Implementing Accessibility in Digital Marketing: Best Practices

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As a marketer, there is a standard set of questions that you ask yourself when conceptualizing a campaign. Perhaps, the most important of those research questions is whom am I targeting? Once you know your target-audience persona, everything else can be built around that. 

But, what happens when you leave out important demographics from your target audience? Over 20% of individuals in the U.S have a form of disability. When you design an ad campaign or create a website copy that isn’t accessible to people with disabilities you’re directly excluding an important group of people and indirectly saying that your brand doesn’t care about corporate social and moral responsibilities. In addition to limiting your potential reach, this could hurt your brand image. So, what must you do to be saved?

In this article, I outline best practices for ensuring accessibility in marketing

But first…

What Makes Marketing Collaterals Accessible?

Web accessibility, simply put, is the practice of creating digital materials that are accessible to people with disabilities. These disabilities could be physical — visual or motor impairments — or cognitive — ADHD, etc. 

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed a set of standards through its Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) that guides the development of accessible content on the web. Those standards are known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These standards serve as a web accessibility bible of sorts — proffering best practices for developers and web authors to follow when creating content for the web. 

Ultimately, it’s down to personal choice and government regulations to ensure the web is accessible.

Marketers use a number of platforms and means to deploy their strategies and campaigns. A good knowledge of the rudiments of accessibility is quite important for any marketer who wishes to create wholesome and accessible experiences for their audience. The use of alternative text (ALT text) for images helps people with visual impairments to make sense of images on the web, transcripts for video and audio material helps people with hearing impairment, and the right combination of colors can simultaneously help people with color blindness and distraction-prone disabilities. 

It could seem like you have your work cut out for you, but when you initiate a creative process with accessibility on your mind, it helps to make the entire development process seamless.

The Use of Alt Text for Web Images

Alternative text describes the contents of an image and comes in handy for people with impaired vision, who can use screen-reading technology to “read” the image. If an image doesn’t have alt text, it’s inaccessible to these types of people.

To change or improve alt text, simply choose to edit image options, then add alt text where indicated. It’s best to go with a contextual, straightforward description of the image. So, if you’re featuring an image of a cat playing with a ball, then your alt text might look something like: <img src=”blackcat.jpg” alt=”Black cat playing with a ball”>.

Providing Transcripts for Multimedia and captions

By including transcripts and closed captions in your ads, you make it easy for those with audio or visual impairments to have an enhanced experience of the advertisement. You can easily record a voiceover and have it run in the background of a video ad. For subtitles, Facebook added a new caption feature to add captions to your videos in just a few clicks. You can also preview and review the captions that are auto-generated for videos prior to publishing. 

Proper Design Elements

Right colors are key to providing a wholesome experience for users. But what are the right colors? In order to accommodate people with color vision impairment, the color contrast ratio must be at least 3:1. There are tools online to help you determine the right contrast ratio like the WebAim contrast checker. The use of intuitive elements and labeling on your posters and landing pages will help provide context and clarity to people using screen readers to access your website.

Use of Automated Accessibility Software for Your Website

Automated software accessibility solutions like Equally AI can help make your website accessible. Equally AI is simple to use and comes with powerful technology that enhances your website’s background and foreground elements. Equally AI has an Accessibility Assistant with five ready-made accessibility profiles for people with disabilities — Blind (screen reader), Vision impaired, Motor impaired, and Seizure secure, Focus (ADHD). By installing just one line of code, your website can receive an accessibility facelift, better brand perception, and improved SEO.

Closing Thoughts

A good number of websites don’t prioritize accessibility, and millions of disabled users suffer as a result. The Pew Research Center found that disabled Americans are three times as likely as non-disabled Americans to say they never go online. But with all hands on deck, we can help change that story and include people with disabilities. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s mandated by the law.

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