A Copywriter’s Guide to Accessibility

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A Copywriter’s Guide to Accessibility

Posted May 03, 2024


Posted May 03, 2024

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The best practices of good copywriting — precise language, clear value props, scannable content — all contribute to accessible copywriting. Learn how to make your content more accessible to the disabled community by following these best practices.

Think about the golden rules of copywriting: know your audience, use an active voice, keep things clear and concise, write headlines that pack a punch, and tell a clear story. These rules help you create strong copy that drives action. 

You can also use the rules of good copywriting in accessibility. Keeping things clear and concise, using short sentences, using the correct headings and subheadings in order, and, most importantly, knowing your audience enables you to create good, accessible copy. 

If you want to make your writing more accessible, numerous courses can help you learn best practices around accessible copywriting. We’ll review those courses in more detail below, as well as how these courses can benefit your career.

What Makes Website Copy Accessible?

Put simply, accessible copy is content that everyone can access and use — regardless of whether they have a disability or impairment. It includes the following aspects:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Audio
  • Video content

Think about it: the internet is made of these elements, yet they’re often overlooked in website accessibility. Without accessible content, much of the web would be inaccessible to people with disabilities. With 16% of the world’s population having some sort of disability, inaccessible content could keep a lot of people from using your digital content. You could also face potential legal consequences that could damage your brand reputation.

The best way to avoid these consequences is to ensure your website copy is accessible to all. The best place to get started is to educate yourself and put that knowledge into practice.

7 Accessibility Courses for Copywriters

Whether new to accessibility or not, expanding your skills and knowledge in the accessibility industry is always beneficial. Below, we’ve compiled a list of available courses for accessibility copywriting.

1. Writing Accessible Content for the Web

Provided by A11y Collective, this course is designed for content strategists, creators, marketers, and web content managers. The course covers the various ways individuals with disabilities read and the difficulties they face in understanding text. It also covers how you can overcome those problems by reviewing top guidelines for accessible content. You’ll complete exercises and assignments to put what you’ve learned into practice.

  • Duration: 4-8 hours
  • Price: $110
  • Assessment: None

2. Certificate in Accessible Content

Earning a Certificate in Accessible Content is a quick and easy way to learn how to meet accessibility standards outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The course includes five stand-alone classes that provide generic accessibility training for copywriters and strategists, such as:

  • Using a web editor: Learn how to use a CMS or web editing tool to improve accessibility.
  • Using keywords: In addition to getting tips on accessible metadata, the class also instructs writers on how to use keywords strategically.
  • Writing for WCAG 2.2 standards: Gain an understanding of WCAG accessibility standards and what your responsibility as a writer is. 
  • Making accessible PDFs: Accessibility also extends to electronic documents, such as PDFs. This class provides instructions on how to make them accessible.
  • Using images and graphs online: Learn how to make every image and graph accessible, a requirement for WCAG 2.2 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act compliance.

There is no prerequisite for this course; it can be completed on your schedule.

  • Duration: 5 hours 
  • Price: $135
  • Assessment: 5 online tests to be completed after each class

3. W3C Digital Accessibility Foundations

The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Digital Accessibility Foundations course is designed for technical and non-technical learners. This includes developers, designers, content authors, students, professionals, and people with disabilities. The unique thing about this course is that you can choose your path. For example, as a content writer, you can focus your learning on writing for accessibility. We recommend also completing the ‘Advocating’ course as it provides an understanding of real-life experiences and how accessibility is essential for some and useful for all.

  • Duration: 16-20 hours
  • Price: Free
  • Assessment: None. Can choose to get a verified certificate for an additional $99

4. Advanced Web Accessibility Training for Content Writers

Eleven Ways’ Advanced Web Accessibility Training for Content Writers provides an overview of digital accessibility and how you can contribute to the accessibility of web pages, documents, mobile apps, podcasts, and more. The course includes information on accessibility legislation, standards, and accessible content best practices. Eleven Ways also provides additional accessibility training, including creating accessible PDFs in InDesign, creating accessible PowerPoint files, and how to create inclusive digital communication. 

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Price: Free
  • Assessment: None

5. Accessible Content Design

Offered by TetraLogical, the Accessible Content Design course provides an overview of creating accessible content. It is self-led, so you can complete it on your own time. TetraLogical also includes courses on accessibility fundamentals, creating accessible social media content, and inclusive user research.

  • Duration: Self-led
  • Price: Contact TetraLogical for specific pricing
  • Assessment: None

6. Writing and Publishing Accessible Content

Ideance’s Writing and Publishing Accessible Content course provides information on how to implement accessibility and conform with WCAG accessibility standards in your writing. You’ll also learn the primary rules of digital accessibility for web content, including texts, links, images, videos, and more. Ideance also offers a Discovering Digital Accessibility course which provides an overview of the challenges of digital accessibility, the uses and needs of people with disabilities, and the elements needed to properly implement digital accessibility and WCAG. We recommend taking this course and the accessible content course to expand your knowledge of accessibility.

  • Duration: 1-day
  • Price: Free
  • Assessment: None

7. Creating Accessible Content

Intopoia’s ‘Creating Accessible Content’ course provides information on how language, structure, and microcontent work together to create accessible content and inclusive experiences. You’ll also learn to structure content for easy scanning, use inclusive language, and write accessible form labels, instructions, and notifications. The course is designed for content writers, editors, publishers, and managers.

  • Duration: Self-led
  • Price: Free
  • Assessment: None
A series of four accessibility symbols fading into the distance, against a rainbow gradient background.

Best Practices for Accessible Copywriting

As you’re getting started with the accessibility courses above, here are a few best practices you should implement now to increase the accessibility of your content.

  • Use plain language: Plain, simple language makes your content more accessible to everyone, not just those with disabilities. This doesn’t mean your content must be boring, but you should avoid using jargon, idioms, and terminology your audience doesn’t understand. WCAG’s Success Criteria 3.1.5 on Reading Level provides helpful recommendations on how to best use plain, simple language.
  • Add structure: Use headers, subheaders, and bullet points to ensure your content can be scanned. Don’t be afraid of white space, either.
  • Include alternative text for images: Even if you’re not the one creating images for digital content, be sure to include alt text for all images. This ensures that users relying on assistive technologies don’t miss important context.
  • Use descriptive CTAs and anchor text: Users should know exactly what will happen when they click a CTA button or anchor text. Writing descriptive anchor text and buttons is the best way to do this.
  • Provide clear instructions where appropriate: Include clear, specific instructions to ensure that all users know how to use your digital content (forms especially). Also, remember to include error messages and how to resolve them.
  • Make mindful choices for font and text colors: Font and text colors greatly affect accessibility. For example, individuals with visual impairments may not be able to see a particular text color against a white background, or users with dyslexia might struggle to read specific fonts. Keep these in mind throughout your writing process.

Why Copywriters Should Care About Accessibility

As we mentioned above, the web comprises various types of content. If it’s not accessible, it prevents a considerable portion of the disability community from accessing and using the web. As a copywriter, you should strive to make your copy as accessible as possible so you don’t inadvertently exclude users from accessing digital content. This ultimately results in a more accessible, inclusive experience for all users, particularly those with disabilities.

Additionally, creating accessible copy can help you comply with the accessibility standards included in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA enforces the technical specifications included in WCAG, which includes several specifications for accessible content. This includes using clear, concise language and formatting content in a way that’s easy to follow and understand. Following these guidelines can help your organization avoid accessibility lawsuits that can have pretty severe consequences.

Finally, accessible content can help your website perform better overall. The correct use of headings, clear, simple language, descriptive hyperlinks, and alt text provides both users and SEO crawlers with a clearer understanding of your digital content. Additionally, accessible content improves overall readability, making it easier for users to find what they’r. This can help improve your overall website ranking, which can extend the reach of your audience.

Simplify Your Path to Accessible Copy

Learning how to create accessible copy can feel overwhelming, and rightly so. There’s much to remember, especially when considering WCAG’s specifications. The courses above are a great starting point for incorporating accessibility into your writing or content strategy. However, it’s critical to test your content for accessibility before it gets into the hands of your customers.

That’s where AudioEye comes in.

Our Website Accessibility Checker can identify how accessible your existing content is, and our team of accessibility experts can provide recommendations on how to improve it. To help you stay on top of changing accessibility guidelines, AudioEye provides Accessibility Training, where we cover best practices for creating accessible design and content.

Ready to get started? Get a free scan of your website below or sign up for AudioEye’s Accessibility Training.

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