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How to Make Your Digital Accessibility Resolutions Stick in 2023

Posted January 11, 2023

AudioEye

Posted January 11, 2023

An accessibility symbol in the middle of a shiny disco ball, surrounded by fireworks. Beneath the disco ball, lightbulbs spell out 2023.
An accessibility symbol in the middle of a shiny disco ball, surrounded by fireworks. Beneath the disco ball, lightbulbs spell out 2023.

In this post, we discuss the importance of building digital experiences that every user can enjoy — and share tips on how you can break your accessibility goals into a series of achievable steps.

Making a New Year’s resolution is easy.

We all want to do better, whether that means eating healthier, exercising more, or staying in touch with friends and family.

Unfortunately, keeping those resolutions is harder. Studies have shown that just 9% of Americans who make a New Year’s resolution keep it for the entire year — and more than 80% fail by the start of February.

One reason for this? Most people pick a goal without considering all of the steps required to actually reach it.

Take eating healthier, for example.

Does that mean reducing the number of calories you eat a day? Following a specific diet? Avoiding processed foods?

Once you’ve clarified your goal, you still need to figure out specific actions to get there. Are you going to sign up for a subscription meal service? Prepare healthy dinners for the week ahead?

The better you get at breaking your goal into manageable bites, the more likely you are to eventually reach it — whether you’re setting a goal for yourself or as part of an organization.

In this post, I discuss why so many organizations are looking to make their website more accessible — and share tips on how you can build an actionable plan to reach your organization’s accessibility goals in 2023.

In this article:

In this article:

Digital Accessibility Is a Worthy Goal, But You Need a Plan

Whenever I hear that an organization wants to make its website more accessible, my first reaction is always excitement.

The internet today has a major accessibility problem. In fact, according to a 2022 report by WebAIM, 97% of the internet is inaccessible to people with disabilities.

That figure is backed by our own research. When AudioEye analyzed more than 3,500 websites across 22 industries, we found that 83% of e-commerce sites, 78% of healthcare sites, and 77% of career sites had accessibility issues that impacted a screen reader user's ability to complete critical tasks, like completing a purchase or booking an appointment.

We need more companies to start thinking about accessibility, and looking for ways to make sure everyone can browse, understand, and engage with their website and digital content.

Unfortunately, common misconceptions about digital accessibility — from the cost of making websites accessible to the best use of technology — has slowed progress toward a more accessible internet.

Here’s the bottom line: If you want to deliver an inclusive experience to everyone who visits your website, you need to build an ongoing plan for accessibility.

A stylized web page filled with error messages.

Step One: Start By Auditing Your Website’s Accessibility

It might seem obvious, but identifying accessibility barriers on your website is the first step to making it accessible.

There are a few different approaches to accessibility testing, from manual audits that review every line of code on your website to automated solutions that check your website against accessible coding standards like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Unfortunately, both of these approaches have limitations. Manual audits are slow, expensive, and static (meaning they measure a website’s accessibility at a moment in time, but can’t account for any changes to the website that happen between audits).

Worse, most manual audits don’t even solve the issues they uncover. Instead, they provide organizations with a long list of issues to fix by hand — which can be hard for organizations that aren’t staffed with a team of accessibility experts.

Automated solutions like AudioEye, on the other hand, can handle the size and constantly changing nature of the internet. However, some accessibility issues cannot be solved by automation alone.

At AudioEye, our patented technology runs 400+ tests to find (and automatically fix) accessibility issues that can prevent people with disabilities from understanding or interacting with your site. We do this every time a page loads to help ensure that any updates to a website don’t also introduce new accessibility issues.

And because we recognize the critical role that certified accessibility experts play in delivering accessible sites, we also offer manual audits, custom code fixes, and user testing from screen reader users.

Want to see where your website stands today? Get a free scan of any URL to uncover accessibility barriers on your site.

A label that reads "Manual Fixes to Track" above three icons: A keyboard that is captioned "Use short, clear writing," an image that is captioned "Check image Alt text," and a video player that is captioned "Add captions to video content."

Step Two: Determine Which Issues You Need to Fix Manually

As I mentioned above, certain types of content — such as video, audio, and PDF — often require human involvement to be made fully accessible.

For example, automated technologies today can determine whether an image has alt text, but they can’t tell if the alt text is accurate or descriptive enough to provide value to the user.

When we audited more than 1,000 websites across popular content management systems, we found that automation can potentially detect up to 70% of common digital accessibility issues, and resolve about two-thirds of them.

For issues that cannot be fixed by automation alone, you should establish a process to regularly audit your multimedia and written content. As a starting point, I recommend that you:

1. Add Captions and Audio Descriptions to All Video Content

Videos can help you build brand awareness and keep your audience engaged — but if your multimedia content isn’t accessible, you could be missing opportunities to connect with people.

Adding captions and audio descriptions to your video content can improve the experience for plenty of people, including:

  • People with learning disabilities and neurocognitive differences that affect speech comprehension.
  • People who use screen readers, which output text (including captions) as audio or Braille.
  • People who browse the internet with their sound off.
  • People who are learning a new language.

2. Check Your Image Alt Text

Alt text is a written description of an image that screen readers can read out loud — or convert to Braille — for people with visual impairments, sensory processing disorders, or learning disorders.

Done right, alt text can paint a complete picture of a website for people who cannot perceive images visually.

 Unfortunately, many designers and content creators forget to provide alt text. Or they write something so non-descriptive — like an image of a menu that is simply labeled “menu” — it might as well not be there.

As a general rule, the best version of alt text is one that is descriptive but easy to follow. If it helps, you can think of writing alt text like describing an image over the phone to a friend: You want to highlight the details that matter most, without overwhelming them.

Struggling to describe your images? Click here to get four tips for writing better alt text.

3. Review Your Website Copy

In many ways, your website’s copy — meaning everything from page headlines and product descriptions to the text you use on buttons — is a great example of the overlap between “good” design and accessible design.

Things like clear page headings and descriptive links are good for SEO, which helps your business at large. But they’re also a critical part of the browsing experience for people who use screen readers or who have learning disabilities.

The clearer and more direct your copy, the more accessible your website will be for everyone.

As a starting point, I recommend checking your website’s copy against the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Supplemental Guidance to WCAG 2, which includes best practices for writing clear and understandable content, such as:

  • Using active rather than passive voice: Speaking directly to the user in an active voice can help with comprehension, especially for people with dyslexia and other language impairments. For example, more people will understand “press the button” than “the ‘on’ button should be pressed.”

  • Avoiding double negatives or nested clauses: Clear, simple language can help people with dyslexia and other language impairments understand a page — and any key actions they should take. For example, “Time is limited” is clearer than “Time is not unlimited.”

  • Being concise and avoiding long, dense paragraphs: Use short sentences with one point per sentence. Try to insert the key takeaway or objective at the start of the paragraph. When possible, use bulleted or numbered lists.
A 2023 calendar, with an accessibility symbol circled on one of the days.

Step Three: Make Accessibility an Ongoing Mission

The last (and perhaps most important) step toward reaching your organization’s accessibility goals is recognizing that digital accessibility is an ongoing process.

At year’s end, you don’t want to look back and say you made progress in the first quarter before tailing off. But in order to deliver an accessible experience through every website update, you need to build accessibility into your organization’s processes. Here’s a few ways you can do it:

  • Stay current on the latest accessibility standards and best practices: Organizations like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) regularly update their accessibility standards as the internet — and user behavior — evolves. By staying up-to-date on the latest changes, you can prepare for any new accessibility requirements you need to follow.

  • Create a checklist for accessible design: Making sure that everyone on your team knows the latest accessibility requirements is always a challenge. As a first step, you can use an accessibility checklist to give web designers, developers, and content creators an easy reference guide on what to look out for.

  • Publish an accessibility statement: Publishing an accessibility statement helps demonstrate your commitment to inclusive design — and gives your organization a North Star to follow. By providing visitors with essential information about your accessibility strategy, you let them know what to expect and what steps they can take if they find an issue with your online content.

Take the First Step Toward a More Accessible Website

Want to see where your website stands today? Get a free scan of any URL to uncover accessibility barriers on your site.

Ready to test your website for accessibility?

Scan your website now.

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