Beginner's Guide for WordPress - Start your WordPress Blog in minutes.
Choosing the Best
WordPress Hosting
How to Easily
Install WordPress
Recommended
WordPress Plugins
View all Guides

Increase Your Audience Size Through Accessibility (Blog World 2010)

Last updated on by
Special WordPress Hosting offer for WPBeginner Readers
Increase Your Audience Size Through Accessibility (Blog World 2010)

This post is a summery of the presentation “Increase your audience size through accessibility” delivered by Allison Sheridan at Blog World Expo 2010.

Imagine for a moment that your site were to be damaged one day. From that day forward, roughly half a billion people who currently have the potential to access your site would be met with a garbled website or nothing at all when they navigated to your website. Would you work to fix it?

Believe it or not, your website is probably already broken. An estimated 314 million people are vision impaired and 278 million are hearing impaired and when they navigate to your site, many of them are turned away because you haven’t taken the time to make your pages accessible to them. If you want that audience, you need to make the changes below, and fast, because you are losing more of this potential audience every day that your page says broken.

Accessibility in Podcasting

Podcasting opened up a new world for the blind by offering fantastic audio content on so many subjects for free. But how you display your podcast can mean the difference between a large bump in users or the isolation of your hearing and vision impaired users. Fix the two following things you and will make a world of difference in the experience of your users.

  1. Format. If you are not offering your podcast in MP3, you are losing everyone with a screen reading program. Screen readers cannot open anything in AAC format, despite the improvement in compression. So if you must have AAC format for audio quality, provide a link also for MP3 downloads so that you don’t loose your vision impaired audience.
  2. Transcripts. Podcasts can be scripted or improv, but if you don’t provide a transcript or outline somewhere, you will lose your hearing impaired audience. Products like Dragon Naturally Speaking, Express Scribe, and Nuance.com can provide tools to transcribe your podcast quickly and easily and are less expensive then traditional transcription services. Posting a transcript also has the side benefit of making the content of your post searchable in Google. All around it is a good thing to do.

Accessibility in Traditional Blogging

Traditional text based blogs are great for the deaf, but can prove challenging for the blind who rely on screen readers. Fix the following things, and see your user appreciation grow.

  1. Heading Tags. Don’t denote important sections of a post with bold or italics. Doing so means nothing to screen readers. Using traditional XML heading tags allows users with screen readers to skip to important sections without a second thought and allows for a quick tradition should you ever transition your blog to another theme.
  2. Alt Tags. We have known for years that alt tags in images were important, but very few people pay attention. Not only are the alt tags for images read by screen readers, they also appear should one of your link images break. Being descriptive in your alt tags will prove beneficial and your readers will appreciate it.
  3. CAPTCHA. If you are using a CAPTCHA to prevent spam on your site, make sure it is accessible. Visual only CAPTCHAs make it impossible for your vision impaired users to register or leave comments on your website without assistance. A simple way to fix this is by using the free reCAPTCHA from captcha.net or implementing better spam filters and doing away with CAPTCHA all together.
  4. Embedded Videos. While large video sites like YouTube are accessible to screen readers and allow those with screen readers to play, pause, and refresh videos, many of their embedded videos are not accessible (this includes embedded YouTube videos). Until this problem is fixed, providing small text under your embedded videos with a direct link to the video site will suffice. You can even hide this text by matching the text color to the color of your background, that way only individuals with screen readers will see it.

So why should you go through all this trouble? Because your audience will appreciate it. Being accessible will not only help to grow your audience, but it will increase the relationship you have with your current vision and hearing impaired users. Getting one letter from a vision or hearing impaired fan of your site is all that it will take for you to see how beneficial these simple changes can be.

Sponsors

BuySellAds

BuySellAds
BuySellAds is a huge marketplace to buy/sell advertising spots on your site. Over 750 successful bloggers use them to power their online ad sales. WPBeginner is also using BSA to maintain our ads. It is also a great place for advertisers. Over 1,000 quality advertisers use BSA to target the audiences that are right for their brand. If you are interested, apply to be in their marketplace now.

ContactMe

ContactMe
ContactMe is the easiest way to organize and grow your business/blog. You can create contact forms and utilize all the tools that they have to offer to stay updated with all leads and potentially converting them into clients.

Aviva Web Directory

Aviva Web Directory

Aviva Web Directory is one of the most prestigious web directories on the world wide web. It has been on the web since 2005 and has thousands of websites listed in it. Jeff was kind enough to be one of our daily sponsors. He is also giving $25 off on any listing price if you use the coupon “wpbeginner”. Get your site listed in their for SEO benefits.

Headway Themes

Headway Themes

Headway is much more than a WordPress theme. It is a system for do-it-yourself-ers and developers to create sites with simple drag and drop. You can create your very own custom WordPress theme in just a few minutes by simply clicking, dragging, and dropping. It is one of the most popular framework for WordPress themes. Grant was kind enough to give WPBeginner users a 20% off coupon. Simply use the coupon “wpbeginner“.

StudioPress Themes

StudioPress WordPress Themes

Formerly known as the famous Revolution Themes, StudioPress has always strived for excellence and produced high quality themes. It is one of the most popular theme provider.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

WPBeginner's Video Icon
Our HD-Quality tutorial videos for WordPress Beginners will teach you how to use WordPress to create and manage your own website in about an hour. Get started now »

Comments

  1. Gemma says:

    Massive thumbs up for you.

    I am hearing impaired and my experience has been that I usually can’t watch videos or listen to audio like podcasts. The reason why I don’t watch a video that has no transcription is because although I rely on lip reading, it’s next to impossible to lip read people in the video, and of course, I can’t understand what is being said. And because I can’t make sense of speech in videos, I can’t make very much sense of the content as a whole. It’s like that for many hearing impaired people. Hearing impaired people are very vocal, so if a site doesn’t provide an alternative means of accessing the content within a podcast or a video, they’ll go elsewhere, and tell their friends and family that the site in question is rubbish. Then that obviously gets passed on.

    SitePoint captioned their online courses, and I’ve no idea what they were using because the captions made no sense at all. It was as if someone just made things up as they went along and then tacked it on as an afterthought. Such a shame. But I appreciated the initial thought. It would have been better if they had put more thought into it, like testing it to see if it worked correctly, etc.

    I also find that most podcasters don’t bother with transcripts. I think in all the time I’ve been surfing the net, I’ve only come across maybe one or two sites that provided transcripts for their podcasts.

    Or another alternative would be to write an article to accompany the podcast or video, which covers the same topics that are being covered in the postcast or video.

    Unfortunately, I think most people would rather forget that there are many hearing impaired people rather than spend any money at all on transcripts via services, or any extra time on articles to accompany their podcasts/videos.

    I’ll tweet this.

  2. Chuck says:

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.