As a blind blogger myself and a screen-reader user, accessibility of blogs is so important for me, it is at the forefront of my blog and I always try to ensure that my posts and pages are fully accessible to people with a visual impairment, as well as any design or themes that I use.
The accessibility of a person’s blog is the deciding factor for me whether I stay on their blog and check it out or whether I click off, if a blog isn’t accessible then I tend to click off as it is very frustrating and time consuming to try and navigate around the inaccessible parts, it is also very problematic.
If I like a person’s blog, find their content interesting and their blog is accessible then I’ll usually stick around and explore their site, subscribe to their blog, follow them on social media and continue to visit their blog in the future.
I love discovering new bloggers, but the amount of bloggers who’s sites aren’t accessible for screen-reader users is crazy. Granted, I know that not everyone knows how to make their blog accessible, or they just haven’t thought about it.
With all of that in mind, I thought that I would write a post and share some tips on how to make your blog accessible for people with a visual impairment.
It’s important to remember that every blind and visually impaired person has different levels of vision and use a wide range of assistive technology, some blind people use screen-readers like myself, and others use magnification software.
It’s important to make your content accessible to everyone, at the end of the day, inclusivity is key.
1. Label all links and buttons
If links and buttons are labelled to say exactly what they are, for example ‘home’ or ‘search’, then blind and visually impaired people can determine what they are, either by a screen-reader reading the label out loud or the person seeing it using magnification software. Screen-readers do not read graphics as they cannot interpret them, and they can also be very hard for people with low vision to see, labelling them solves this issue.
Labelling links and buttons means that blind and visually impaired people don’t have to press a button without knowing what it is, which can often be a risky move, especially if it redirects to another site. By doing this, it means that people can navigate around your website easily.
2. Label comment forms
If You want everyone to be able to leave a comment on your site, make sure that your comment forms are labelled so that screen-readers don’t read things such as ‘edit field’ or ‘radio button’. Instead, make sure that each box is labelled correctly, for example, ‘name,’ ‘email address’ or ‘comment’.
3. Use a good size font throughout your blog
This doesn’t just only help blind and visually impaired people, it can help sighted people as well. Having a good, clear font means that your content is easy to read.
4. Have a dark font against a light background
Avoid using white, use sans-serif fonts instead. Not only does this improve accessibility and readability, it also looks good in terms of branding as well.
5. Have an audio option when using captcha verification
If you have captcha verification on your blog when submitting a comment or when someone wants to subscribe to your blog or newsletter, look at the possibility of adding an audio option. Screen-readers do not read the graphics, and they are often very hard for people with some useful vision to see. Adding an audio option gives an accessible alternative but still maintains your site’s security.
If there is no audio option, then often blind and visually impaired people like myself just click off the site as there is often no other alternative way of completing such tasks.
6. Add alt text to images
This is probably the most important one, I cannot stress this enough! The number of images that do not have alt text on blogs or websites is ridiculous. It’s such a simple thing to do and can make such a difference to a blind or visually impaired person’s visit to your website.
Alt text, also known as alternative text, is a written description of the image. Describing what’s in the image helps a person with a visual impairment to build a picture of it and interpret it in their own way, consequently being more engaged in your posts. Please make sure that you add alt text in the alt text box, rather than the description box.
Many people think that the alt text box is there to improve seo, whilst this is the case, it can be invaluable to screen-reader users. Why not try and make a photo description that still links with seo? Please do not just put your keywords in the alt text box, as this serves no purpose to blind and visually impaired people and we still have no idea what the image shows.
If you don’t know how to add alt text, then add a photo description underneath images in your posts and pages instead.
Both are really easy to do so please consider doing one or the other.
I often get asked how descriptive image descriptions need to be, and I answer this by saying describe exactly what’s in the picture and be as informative as you can.
7. Use headings
Blind and visually impaired people often navigate blogs and websites using shortcut keys. Using headings means that we can navigate around your blog easily and efficiently, being able to skip through post titles and other aspects. Adding headings also helps with readability.
8. Make link text something relevant
Rather than just putting ‘click here’, put something like ‘check out my post on…’ then people know what sort of page or website they’ll be directed to if they click the link.
9. Avoid using video and audio that starts automatically
It may look nice and sound good, but this can make it very hard for people with a visual impairment to navigate your blog. If you use video or audio that starts automatically then people who use screen-readers have to listen to this as well as their screen-reader, which can be very difficult to do. It can cause problems for people with other disabilities as well.
If you want to use video or audio on your blog, then add an option for people to click to start it if they want to, rather than it starting automatically.
10. Test your blog on different devices and browsers
The accessibility and look of your blog can often differ on various browsers and devices. Make sure that all of the features that you have implemented work on different browsers and devices. By doing this, it means that people don’t have to test several browsers to find the best one, instead, they can just use their preferred browser.
Many people read blogs whilst on the go so here’s a top tip: make sure your blog is mobile friendly!
So, there you have it, 10 things you can do to make your blog accessible.
Do you have any other tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments!
If you have any questions, then please do not hesitate to get in contact, or leave them in the comments, I’d love to hear from you