As a freelancer, it is just as important for you as it is for bigger brands to ensure the content you create is accessible to all. After all, if you want to succeed as a freelancer, you also need to make a name for yourself by establishing your own brand and identity. And with users today being more critical of brands and who they choose to work with regarding equity, inclusivity, and accessibility, it is just as critical for you as a freelancer to be mindful of your practices and how you present yourself and the content you create.
This article will discuss what accessibility is, why it’s important, and how freelancers can make their content more accessible to all audiences.
What is Accessible Content and Why Is it Important?
Accessibility, or web accessibility—to be specific—is the practice of ensuring equal and inclusive access to content on the internet for all individuals, no matter their physical and situational disabilities or socio-economic limitations. So many people today just assume that their content is easily accessed because it is on the internet. But just because we live in a digital age where the internet makes things easier to access than they once were does not mean internet content is automatically accessible to all individuals.
While you might think it is easy to simply click a button or type a few words in a search bar to find and access what you need, the same cannot be said for everyone. This is actually a very ableist way of thinking that disregards people who have different capabilities from you that come with restrictions and limitations. But a person should not be limited and unable to access content just because they have different needs.
Thus, the need for accessible content. Millions of people worldwide have physical disabilities that limit their eyesight, hearing, speech, and mobility. They need access to information and the internet the same as anyone else; they just can’t always access it the same way.
Furthermore, some people have limitations based on their location or socioeconomic standing. This may mean they might not have access to high-speed connectivity and can only access the internet through slower devices. Therefore, online content creators need to be mindful of these restrictions and limitations that certain people have.
For people with disabilities, this can mean making content that is easy for people to find and read using a variety of assistance devices, being mindful of sensitivities, and using inclusive language. And for people with internet restrictions, it can mean ensuring your content is easy to load and does not necessarily require having access to quality bandwidth.
Tips for Making Your Content More Accessible as a Freelancer
There are so many ways that you can update your content to make it more accessible as a freelancer. This includes being mindful of the content you create for your clients as well as the content you create for your personal brand and website.
Though it might sound hard, writing for web accessibility is reasonably easy to do once you get the hang of it. It might require a little research and practice initially. However, the more you do it, the more it will become a natural part of your creation process.
Below are some tips and strategies to get you started making your content more readable and accessible:
- Keep your content simple and clear. One way to make your content more accessible is to focus on making it easier to read. This means using shorter sentences, simpler language, avoiding idioms and metaphors, and using lists and bullet points where possible. Overall, you want your content to be lower than ten on the Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level scale. This doesn’t mean you should treat patronise your readers but simply be mindful of everyone’s potential limitations. Content that is easier to read is also better for search rankings and is easier to process for assistance devices.
- Be mindful of page design and structure. Content that is messy and disorganized is not easy for anyone to read at the best of times. But it is especially difficult for those who use devices like screen readers. So when creating your content, make sure it has a simple, organized format. This can include using structured headings, clear and concise instructions, and clear labelling. As well as avoiding tables except for tabular data, and using obvious menu and page titles and descriptions. You should also be mindful to avoid using text fonts and color schemes that make your content harder to read. Again, focus on clean and simple design.
- Use descriptive text. For those that can’t read or see very well, you will need to use descriptive text and metadata wherever possible. For example, a screen reader can’t “read” an image, but it can read a description of that image. So it’s important to use descriptive text for visual elements anywhere you can, including things like buttons and anchor text.
- Be mindful of audio and video use. Audio and video content is good for people who are blind. However, steer clear of setting audio to play automatically. Give users the choice to play videos or audio, so it doesn’t startle them the second they access the page. Additionally, audio and video content should have transcripts or captions for those who can’t hear.
- Avoid using large file sizes and excessive media. Be considerate of people who don’t have access to high-speed internet. Content that uses too many elements will be harder for some people to access if they don’t have quality internet.
- Take a web accessibility course. If you are still struggling with how exactly to make your content more accessible, you can always take a web accessibility training class. While there are countless resources available on the internet to help you learn about web accessibility, sometimes taking a class is the easiest way to get everything you need to know in a more structured setting.
Continue Reading: 5 Easy Ways You Can Start Writing More Accessible Web Copy
As a freelancer, you should constantly be refreshing your skills and learning new things to keep up with changes, and now, this includes making your content more accessible. As a personal brand, you need to be mindful of how you present yourself to ensure you continue getting work. So it’s important to be as inclusive and equitable as possible to avoid limiting yourself and others.