As a blind blogger myself, accessibility of blogs is so important for me and others. Accessibility is the deciding factor whether I stay, or leave a site. If I have an interest in their blog and if their blog is easy to navigate then I’ll read their posts, subscribe to them and more than likely keep visiting their site. However, if it’s not accessible, then it becomes very frustrating, rather time-consuming and often problematic when trying to navigate it.
Every blind person is different, some have useful vision, some don’t. Some blind people use a screen-reader, other blind or visually impaired people use magnification software.
So, with this in mind, I want to share 5 tips with you on making your blog accessible to blind and visually impaired people. At the end of the day, it’s important to make your content accessible to all.
- Label all links and buttons
If buttons and links are labelled to say exactly what they are, then blind and visually impaired people can determine what they are, either by a screen-reader speaking 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 all links and buttons means that blind and visually impaired readers don’t have to press a button, without knowing what it is, which can sometimes be a risky move!
- Use a good size font
This doesn’t matter to screen-reader users so much, but having a font that’s clear, large and easy to read can make a difference to people using magnification software. Make sure that you have good contrasting colours as well, as this helps readability.
- Adding an audio option when using capture verification
If you have capture verification on your blog when submitting a comment or when someone wants to subscribe to your blog or newsletter, for example, 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.
- 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 (alternative text) is a 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.
If you don’t know how to add alt text, then add a photo description underneath images in your posts instead.
Both are really easy to do so please consider doing one or the other.
- Add descriptions of images on social media
Social media is now very image-based, which can often be rather problematic for people with a visual impairment. Each social media app is unique in its own way, so there are various steps you can take to add descriptions to images.
For screen-reader users, Facebook uses artificial intelligence (AI) to describe photos to blind and visually impaired people. For example, it may say “2 people, smiling, dog, grass and nature”, or “1 person, smiling, food and drink”.
These are not always accurate though, but it’s a very good start.
One way you can add photo descriptions on Facebook is by adding photo descriptions to captions. You can write what you would normally say, then underneath write something like “photo description…” or “this photo shows…”. It Just like alt text, blind and visually impaired people can then picture the image.
People with no or very little useful vision rely on captions on Instagram in order to know what the photo shows. If the caption doesn’t give a brief overview of what the picture shows, then we have no clue whatsoever. In the same way as Facebook, you can add photo descriptions on Instagram in the main post or as a comment underneath.
Twitter was the first social media app to implement photo descriptions. A setting can be enabled which allows you to write a description of the image, descriptions have to be 420 characters or less though. When a screen-reader detects an image description, it will read it out loud.
It is a brilliant feature, but as it is not automatically enabled, it doesn’t cross sighted people’s minds to add descriptions to photos they tweet and isn’t widely used.
Find out more about the feature and how to enable it here.
So, there are a few tips on how you can make your blog accessible to people with a visual impairment. If you have any other tips then feel free to share them!
About the Author: Holly is the blogger behind Life of a Blind Girl. Holly has been blind since birth due to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). She began her blog to help share her experience of the world and show people that just because someone has a disability of some kind, it doesn’t mean they can’t do what they want.