Five tips for ensuring your advocacy website is accessible

Oct 16, 2018
Five tips for ensuring your advocacy website is accessible

It doesn’t matter how stunning your website is – it’s useless if your users can’t access the information they need.

This is true across all industries, but it’s particularly pertinent in the patient advocacy space. Luckily, there are some simple ways to ensure your website works for everyone who needs it.

1. Follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

These are a set of guidelines that specify how to make your website content accessible to all.

Each guideline includes a number of checkpoints which come with an assigned priority level based on the checkpoint’s impact on accessibility. The priority levels are: A (must support), AA (should support) and AAA (improved support). Consider the analogy of accessing a room by adding a door – that would be level A. Add a handle to that door and you have level AA. Make the door open automatically and you are at level AAA.

2.  Apply universal design

You want to make sure your website works well for everyone, irrespective of their personal situation or the device they are using. Focusing on universal design can help improve the user experience for all users.

Responsive design, which means your webpages display well on all types of devices and screen sizes, should now be a given. Other things to consider include:

  • Use high contrast colors to ensure your content is easy to view and readable
  • Avoid mouse-only interactions to allow for people using your site on the go or just with a keyboard
  • If you have video or audio then add a transcript and closed captions for people who don’t want to or can’t watch a video or listen to a clip
  • Make sure people are able to resize text without destroying the layout of your pages and already use larger fonts so it’s easier for all users to read

3.  Plan for your end user

Understand that people who come to your site may have a particular difficulty and cater for this. For advocacy groups, your users may have some very specific needs and you don’t want them to miss out on getting help or information.

When you’re creating your website, consider the experience for someone using a screen reader or voice recognition software like Dragon. Account for people who find it hard to use a keyboard or mouse and make sure your website can support other ways of interacting with buttons or entering text.

A top tip is that many programs, including Microsoft Word and Acrobat Pro, have in-built accessibility checks and tools. It means that you can ensure documents like information leaflets are useable and readable before you upload them.

4.  Create feedback loops

Make sure people have a way to let you know if they are experiencing problems accessing any information on your site. Give them different ways of doing that: phone numbers, email addresses, and accessible online forms. You might not be able to solve the problem immediately, but at least you will be aware of it.

There are a lot of online tutorials and organizations that will help you find the answers. It’s not that the information is hard to find, but that people don’t know to look for it. Bring in an expert when needed.

5.  Remember the added benefits of accessibility

Not only will you be helping more people by having an accessible website, you will also improve your search engine optimization (SEO). So, when people are searching for a subject your website covers, you will appear higher up in the results.

When Google sends a bot to your site to rate and rank it, it acts like a screen reader. Google won’t scan a video, but it will scan a text based transcript. If your links are vague or your images don’t have alternative text for when a picture can’t be displayed then Google won’t understand their relevance.

The more information you can give about the relevance of your site the better: it’s the same principle as accessibility.  For more information visit:  www.americaneagle.com”.

 

 

Five tips for ensuring your advocacy website is accessible

Author

Nick has been pushing the front-end development world forward for Americaneagle.com since December 2009. Nick is very familiar with best practices and modern techniques, including accessibility, page load, user experience, etc. As the Director of Front End Development, he has been involved in a large number of projects, including the American Dental Association, the Chicago Auto Show, Rust-Oleum and the American Red Cross.

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