Steve Jobs famously wanted the iPhone design to be so simple that a child could use it just by picking it up. As a result, Apple set the standard for inclusive and accessible design. And in an age where our interactions grow more digital by the day, accessibility can’t be overlooked.
In this episode of the Go Beyond Fundraising podcast, we’re talking with Stan Shinn, Mark Leta, Kacey Crawford, and Russ Chettiar on why accessibility matters and how nonprofits can achieve it.
Now is the perfect time to ensure your digital campaigns and websites comply with accessibility standards. With end-of-the-year appeals being developed and sent out before you know it, you’ll want to ensure that every piece is fully optimized for its target audience. Let’s dig in.
What Do We Mean by “Accessibility”?
In general, accessibility means you’re making sure that the digital products you develop can be used by everyone, regardless of their ability. As of 2018, approximately 61 million Americans have some sort of disability, which can include visual, speech, motor, and hearing impairments, whether permanent or temporary. For instance, if you break your favored hand or arm, it will impact the way you’re able to use a computer mouse and navigate a website.
Accessibility matters for two main reasons. First, including people with disabilities simply makes good business sense. When they feel welcome by your organization, they’ll bring their support, dollars, and social circle along for the ride. And second, being inclusive is just the right thing to do. Inclusion ensures that we’re making products for as many people as possible and that our content and products are comfortable for everyone, regardless of ability, race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or other differentiator.
When it comes to accessibility, there are two key regulations to keep in mind:
Inclusion is the larger lens through which we view accessibility. By considering the sensitivities of users and their experience, we can make sure no one is excluded.
Accessibility in Web Design
There are three pillars of accessibility: design, content, and technology. When you create a website based on these pillars, you create a synergy between user experience and search engine optimization (SEO). In other words, a clear and clean design, easy-to-read content, and technology with wide-ranging functionality combine for a positive user experience, which helps you turn up in more search engine results.
Design, content, and technology are often handled by different individuals — maybe even different departments. So, accessibility should be an organization-wide priority, with buy-in from the executive level down.
Tips for Making Your Website More Accessible
Adding accessibility settings to every page of your existing website may seem downright impossible. But there are some small steps you can take to make the process easier.
First, assess where you are. Do images and PDFs have alt tags for screen readers? Is there a clear contrast between your font and background colors? Can you tab through your navigation? There are plenty of auditing tools available online — some free — that can help you conduct basic testing, such as WebAIM. Simply put in your URL, and it produces a list of the page’s accessibility issues.
Once you’ve finished your audit, determine whether you can solve any of the issues. For instance, adding alt text is an easy fix — there should be fields or guides for it in your content management system. Larger issues may take some time and require outside help.
In addition, designate a point person to lead your accessibility efforts. This could be the person who adds the content to your site. However, remember that prioritizing accessibility works best when it’s part of the culture at your organization.
Reach out to other organizations to see how they solve accessibility issues. Your peers can help you find creative and cost-effective solutions. What’s more, you’ll be able to point to this organization as an example, which could help you get buy-in from leaders and staff. To that end, educate your nonprofit’s stakeholders on why accessibility matters and what it means for your organization.
Accessibility is everyone’s responsibility. For more tips and advice, listen to the full episode now.
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