Welcome to our April issue of the Accessibility Minute Newsletter! This newsletter is produced by the CU Boulder Digital Accessibility Office and covers one accessibility skill or topic per month. Please visit the DAO website to access past newsletters. As always, thank you for taking a minute (or two!) to read.

Accessibility for Digital Communicators

As information is increasingly communicated in digital formats, it’s more important than ever to create accessible digital communication, which may include but is not limited to, newsletters, mass or interdepartmental emails, websites, and social media accounts. In addition to removing barriers for individuals with disabilities, making your communication accessible increases engagement, shows your audience you care, and increases your effectiveness and reach in the process. In this month’s newsletter, we will provide guidance on creating accessible digital communication that is applicable regardless of the modality or platform.

Although we’ve already spent some time discussing content accessibility in previous newsletters, we want to revisit these concepts with a focus on digital communication, as it can be easy to overlook these concepts when creating emails, social media posts, and the like.

Accessibility Guidance for Digital Communicators

Provide Alternative Text for Images

Most websites, content editing platforms, and social media platforms offer the option to add alt text to your images. The method for adding alt text is different for each platform; however, the practice remains the same: provide a description that identifies the meaningful parts of the image that are visually portrayed. You can often add alt text to images on social media, but it is also recommended to add the alt text in the caption of the photo. If there is text in the image, transcribe it exactly in the alt text. Learn more about heading structure best practices.

Use Lists

Use the list creation button provided in most content editing platforms. When you press the Enter key, if it automatically indents and creates the next list item, you’re doing it right!

Create Meaningful Link Text 

Meaningful link text helps all users find the information they need. It's particularly helpful for those using assistive technology who might navigate through documents or content by jumping from link to link, hearing only the text of each link in turn. With that being said, following the guidance below helps create a more accessible experience for all users.

  • Links should make sense outside of their context in the document.
  • Describe the destination concisely in link text, avoiding phrases like “click here.” Instead of “click here to visit the DAO website,” write something like “visit the DAO website for more information.”
  • Identify the destination file type in the link text if the destination is not a web page. For example, include (PDF) at the end of the link text if selecting the link will download or open a PDF to a user's device.
  • Avoid duplicate link names unless they go to the same destination. Additionally, be consistent and use the same link text when the link goes to the same destination.
  • Don’t write out full URLs unless they’re meant to be memorized.

Provide Sufficient Color Contrast

Color contrast is the difference in brightness between foreground, often text, and background colors. For example, light grey text on a white background will not provide enough contrast for individuals with any visual impairments and can be difficult for all viewers. To ensure everyone can access the text on social media posts, websites, newsletters, etc., download the TPGi Color Contrast Analyser to easily determine the contrast ratio between two colors by simply using an eyedropper tool or entering the HEX code.

Avoid Relying Solely on Visual Style to Convey Meaning

Visual style should never be used as the only way to convey meaning. Visual style refers to the use of color, bold, italics, underlining, punctuation, and spacing. If something is vital in your communication, ensure you're making that clear to all potential viewers. For example, to avoid relying solely on visual style, such as red or bold font to grab the audience's attention, include wording such as, “read first” or “important!” before vital information.

Capitalize Each Word in Hashtags

If you are writing a hashtag, capitalize the first letter of each word to make sure it can be read easily and so that each word can be picked out by assistive technology.

Create Accessible Attachments

When attaching content to an email, make sure that the attachments are accessible. Consult our resources on accessible PDFs, accessible Word documents, and accessible PowerPoints for more details.

Create an Accessibility Statement

Displaying an accessibility statement on your website, newsletter, emails, etc. shows your users that you care about accessibility and provides information about the accessibility of your content. The statement should be at the top of your document or website and should contain at least the following:

  • Your commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • Contact information in case users encounter problems.
  • If possible, any general accessibility limitations users may experience.

By implementing these guidelines in everyday work, digital communicators can make their content accessible to a wider audience, increase effectiveness and reach, and demonstrate a commitment to accessibility.

DAO News

DAO Office Hours are now the 4th Tuesday of every month from 1-2 pm MT. Our next office hours will be held on Tuesday, April 25th.

Your Thoughts

We want to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments, lease send us your thoughts on this month’s topic.

If you have questions, comments, or would like support with accessibility, please contact us at DigitalAccessibility@Colorado.EDU.