Creating accessible content for persons with disabilities has become a major focus for advocacy groups, governments and forward-thinking businesses. There are not only heightened Web standards to follow, but it’s becoming the socially responsible thing to do as well, so that all online visitors can access great Web content. Luckily, content authors who have access to advanced HTML editing tools can create compliant content.
And wouldn’t you know that a side benefit of accessible Web content is that all of the tagging of images and text actually improves your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts? Well, it’s true!
And it just so happens that Ephox’s EditLive! HTML editing tool offers a built-in accessibility content checking tool (similar to a spellchecker), so it teaches you to create accessible content as you type, all while you’re improving your SEO efforts.
Ok. Let’s quickly back up and address some questions about the importance of accessible content.
Why do I need to create accessible content?
Well, for starters, governments are increasing enforcement of guideline compliance “ensuring equal access to persons with disabilities.” So if you haven’t already researched why accessibility compliance is important, here’s a quick snapshot of what you need to know (then check out the links for more details…)
- World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – The goal of WCAG is to provide a single shared standard for Web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations and governments internationally. The WCAG explains how to make Web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Web “content” generally refers to the information in a Web page or Web application, including text, images, sounds and code (or markup).
- U.S. Section 508 Accessibility Guidelines – The Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, encourage development of new technologies and to give new opportunities for people with disabilities.
Why does creating accessible content improve my SEO efforts?
According to Section 508 guidelines, Web-based Intranet and Internet information and applications (like Ephox’s EditLive HTML editing tool) need to give content authors the ability to provide alternate text descriptions for images, so that a person with a disability or users that need assistive technology (e.g., screen readers and refreshable Braille displays) can access the content. And, wouldn’t you know, a fundamental SEO tactic is to provide alternative descriptions for images, links and page titles.
Do I really have Web visitors who need accessible content?
You might be wondering if your website visitors fall into the category of a person with a disability. But you might be surprised by these statistics:
- World Health Organization: “15% of the world’s population lives with a disability.”
- U.S. Department of Labor: “20% of the U.S. population will be over 65 in 2030, experiencing some level of impairment.”
- Microsoft: “In the U.S. alone, 74.2 million computer users have impairments.”
How else does accessible content benefit my organization?
You likely invest quite a bit on the technical, design and content elements of your website, all with the goal of making it easier to exchange information externally and internally. So, in addition to improving your SEO and ROI (return on investment) strategies, here are four more benefits:
- Makes your Web content available to more users / visitors.
- Supports Web access on mobile devices.
- Reduces legal risk, protecting your organization and your brand.
- Makes your organization more socially responsible.
How does an HTML editing tool benefit me as a content author?
You may wonder how an HTML editing tool helps create accessible content. Well, if you’re authoring content within EditLive!, you can:
- Ensure that you maintain compliance with Section 508 and W3C’s Guidelines.
- Use “accessibility as-you-type” compliance checking (this is like spellchecking and it tells you how to improve your content as you type, thereby increasing your awareness).
- Run comprehensive accessibility reports. This nifty report teaches you how to fix your content errors.
- Become more self-sufficient and rely less on IT support calls to make content accessible.
- Use accessible tools to create accessible content (if the content author is a person with a disability).
- Work with any application used to create Web content. The EditLive! HTML editing tool embeds into almost any platform (e.g., learning management systems, Web content management systems, business social software platforms or custom Web applications).
So, there you have it. There are many reasons an HTML editing tool helps ensure that your Web content is accessible to all Web visitors. And, because now you know a side benefit of tagging all those images and providing alternate text, you’ll be able to increase your content’s searchability all while making your company more socially responsible.
Want to learn more about creating accessible Web content?
Come join me (Tom Smith) at the 16th annual Accessing Higher Ground event Nov. 4-8 in Westminster, CO.