Web Accessibility: Guide for Content Editors
ADA Compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines has not traditionally been a top-of-mind consideration for the writers, editors, and subject matter experts who populate websites with content. Then again, the same can be said for developers, designers, site architects, and everyone involved in creating and maintaining websites.
That’s changing quickly as expectations for online experiences that are accessible for people of all abilities are emerging as the new normal. More so than ever before, organizations that cut corners or lack a sense of urgency to ensure that their websites are compliant with WCAG 2.1 are at risk for legal action and all sorts of possible setbacks.
So let’s take a quick look at a few of the key issues that content editors need to keep in mind to ensure that websites are ADA accessibility compliant and aligned with the big picture of what may be required in 2020.
Paying attention to page titles is important for a lot of reasons. The page title appears at the top of the screen and it’s the first thing that a visually impaired person hears from the screen reader when a page is loaded. As such, the page title should be accurate and informative, additionally every page on the site needs to have a unique title.
Beyond accessibility considerations, the page title is also what appears in search results, and that’s, of course, a huge factor in search engine optimization (SEO). Good user experience (UX) is yet another reason to apply best practices to the page titles on a site. When users have multiple tabs open, a distinct, descriptive title helps with efficient navigation among multiple tabs.
As is the case with page titles, there are big ancillary benefits to an ADA compliant hierarchy for headings.
The primary issue to keep in mind concerning headings is that people who rely on screen readers, often navigate a page by scanning headings before determining what they want to read -- just as sighted users do. HTML coding for headings in the right descending order is required for screen readers to effectively interpret the content structure and this means logically structuring content headings and the content under them within the <h1> to <h6> page hierarchy. Simply bolding text or switching up font sizes should not stand in as headings.
Button Text and CTAs
Compliance issues concerning calls to action are possibly the most often overlooked or misunderstood component of content editing. It’s all too common for a page to have multiple CTAs with the same generic text such as: “LEARN MORE” or “CLICK HERE.” To understand why this practice is not accessibility compliant, imagine a visually impaired person who is trying to navigate a page with a screen reader, and the frustrations that they would have in trying to efficiently navigate a page that has CTAs or buttons that all have the same text.
Accessible CTA text needs to make sense when it stands alone. Instead of “LEARN MORE,” for example, an accessible link would read, “Longhorn 2020 football schedule,” or “10 most kid friendly dog breeds.”
Much More to Learn!
Content editors play a distinct role in the creation and maintenance of an accessible site.
WCAG 2.1 provides clear accessibility guidelines that are not difficult to implement. They just need to be learned, remain top of mind, and get built into the process flow.