Good Comms

How communication professionals can create inclusive digital spaces

While the internet has revolutionized access to information, making knowledge more available than ever before, it also presents significant barriers for people with disabilities. This digital divide can exclude individuals from fully participating in essential aspects of society.

As communication professionals, it’s our duty to recognize these challenges and actively work towards creating digital environments that are truly accessible to everyone. This blog post will delve into how we can leverage our expertise to dismantle these barriers, ensuring that digital spaces are inclusive and accommodating for all users.

Image of clue circles depicting technology

Understanding digital accessibility

Digital accessibility means designing digital content and platforms that can be used by people of all abilities and disabilities. This includes considerations for individuals with visual, auditory, physical, and cognitive impairments. Accessible digital content ensures that everyone has equal access to information and opportunities, which is essential in today’s digital-first world.

The impact of effective communication on accessibility

Effective communication is at the heart of accessibility. By adopting inclusive communication practices, we can help break down barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully engaging with digital content. This involves:

  • Using clear and simple language: Ensuring that content is easily understandable for people with cognitive disabilities.

  • Providing text alternatives for non-text content: Descriptive Alt text for images, captions for videos, and transcripts for audio content. I’ve written about Alt text here.

  • Ensuring website navigation is intuitive: Making sure that websites can be navigated using a keyboard alone, benefiting individuals with motor disabilities.

  • Using accessible design: Adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make web content more accessible.

Accessibility allows us to tap into everyone’s potential.”

– Kahlil Gibran

Tools and technologies

Several tools and technologies can aid in creating accessible digital content. Here are some practical tips and tricks that can significantly enhance accessibility:

  • Screen readers: Tools like NVDA read aloud the content of a screen for visually impaired users.
  • Voice recognition software: Programs such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking help individuals with motor impairments navigate digital spaces using voice commands.
  • Color contrast checkers: Tools such as WebAIM’s Contrast Checker ensure that text is readable against its background.
  • Google Translate camera: This feature allows users to translate text in images instantly by pointing their camera at signs, menus, or documents, making information accessible to non-native speakers or those with reading difficulties.
  • Voice-recorder apps: Utilizing voice-recorder apps like Otter.ai can help capture spoken content for transcription, making information accessible for those who are hearing impaired or prefer written content.
  • Accessibility plugins for WordPress: Adding specific plugins designed for accessibility can greatly improve the user experience on WordPress websites. These plugins can help ensure that websites are navigable by screen readers, have sufficient color contrast, and include other accessibility features.
  • eReaders for PDFs and presentations: Encourage downloading PDFs or presentations onto eReaders. Many eReaders are equipped with features that adjust the text size and contrast, making documents easier to read for those with vision impairments.
 

What now?

Here are some micro-actions to take:

  1. Conduct an accessibility audit: Evaluate your organization’s digital content and platforms to identify and address accessibility issues.
  2. Learn about WCAG: Familiarize yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and incorporate them into your communication strategies.
  3. Utilize inclusive technologies: Implement tools like Google Translate camera, voice-recorder apps, and WordPress accessibility plugins.
  4. Optimize documents for eReaders: Convert your PDFs and presentations to be eReader-friendly, ensuring they are accessible to individuals with visual impairments.
  5. Provide training: Offer accessibility training sessions for your team to raise awareness and build skills.
  6. Engage with accessibility communities: Join forums and groups dedicated to digital accessibility to stay updated on best practices and innovations.

By incorporating these tools and tips into your digital communication strategy, you can significantly enhance the accessibility of your content, ensuring that it is inclusive and accessible to all audiences.#

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