Learn how to create an inclusive reading experience by following these accessibility guidelines in the publishing industry. Increase readership and engagement by making your content accessible to everyone.
What are the Key Accessibility Guidelines for Publishers?
To create an inclusive reading experience, publishers must follow certain best practice guidelines for publishers. These guidelines include:
Providing alternative text for images:
Alternative text or alt text helps individuals with visual impairments to understand the content of the image. Therefore, publishers must ensure that all images have appropriate alt text.
Using proper heading structure:
Headings provide structure to content and help individuals with cognitive disabilities to understand the content better. Therefore, publishers must use proper heading structures, including H1, H2, and H3 tags, to provide a clear hierarchy.
Making content keyboard accessible:
Individuals with mobility disabilities use keyboards to navigate digital content. So, publishers must ensure that their content is keyboard accessible, which means users can access all content and make workflow easier.
Providing closed captioning and transcripts for videos:
Both closed captioning and transcripts help individuals with hearing impairments understand video content. So, publishers must provide closed captioning and transcripts for all video content.
Designing for color contrast:
Individuals with visual impairments or color blindness may have difficulty distinguishing between certain colors. So, publishers must ensure that there is sufficient contrast between the text and background to ensure readability.
Using descriptive links:
Links should have descriptive text to help individuals with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities understand the content of the link. Publishers should avoid using phrases like “click here” or “read more” and instead use descriptive text like “learn more about our accessible publishing.”
Ensuring proper table structure:
Tables can be challenging for individuals with visual or cognitive disabilities. Publishers must ensure that tables have a proper structure, including header rows and columns, to make it easier to understand the data.
Providing audio descriptions for videos:
Audio descriptions help individuals with visual impairments to understand the visual content of videos. Publishers should provide audio descriptions for all video content.
Making forms accessible:
Forms can be challenging for individuals with mobility or cognitive disabilities. Publishers should ensure that their forms are keyboard accessible and have appropriate labels and instructions.
Providing alternative formats:
Some individuals with disabilities may have difficulty accessing the content in specific formats. Content creators should provide alternative formats, such as plain text, HTML, CSS or xml, to ensure that all individuals can access the content.
What are the Tools and Resources to Ensure Accessibility?
Guidelines provide a ready reference for publishers covering non-technical and technical aspects of inclusive publishing. Here are some tools and resources that publishers can use to ensure accessibility:
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG):
WCAG 2.0 is a set of guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to help publishers make their content accessible. The guidelines provide specific recommendations for making web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities.
There are several accessibility checkers available online that can help publishers evaluate the accessibility of their content. Some popular options include WAVE, Axe, and Lighthouse. These tools can scan a website or document and provide detailed reports on accessibility issues.
Screen readers are assistive technologies that can read text aloud to individuals with visual impairments. Popular screen readers include JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver. Publishers can use these tools to test the accessibility of their content and ensure that it can be read by screen readers.
Color Contrast Checkers:
Color contrast is essential for individuals with visual impairments to perceive content. There are several online tools available that can help publishers evaluate the color contrast of their content. Some popular options include Contrast Checker and Color Safe.
Accessibility Guidelines for Specific Platforms:
Some platforms, such as WordPress and Shopify, provide specific accessibility guidelines for publishers. Some EPUB 3 and Braille publishers simply link to the navigation file to serve as the book’s textual table of contents. These guidelines can help publishers ensure that their content meets the accessibility requirements of the platform.
Many organizations offer training on accessibility features for publishers. Training can help publishers learn how to design and develop accessible content and can provide guidance on meeting accessibility regulations.
Text-to-Speech for Accessibility in Publishing
Text-to-speech is an important accessibility feature for individuals with visual impairments or reading disabilities. It allows them to have the content of a text read aloud to them using synthetic speech technology. Publishers can add text-to-speech functionality to their content to ensure that individuals with disabilities have accessible formats of their content.
Why text-to-speech is important for publishers in terms of accessibility:
Increases the audience:
Adding text-to-speech functionality can increase the audience for a publisher’s content by making it accessible to individuals with visual impairments or reading disabilities.
Complies with accessibility guidelines:
Many accessibility guidelines require the provision of text-to-speech functionality for digital content, making it an essential feature for publishers who want to ensure compliance with accessibility regulations.
Text-to-speech functionality can improve the usability of digital content for all users by allowing them to listen to the content instead of reading it. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who prefer auditory learning.
Provides an alternative to visual content:
For content that includes visual content, such as images or charts, text-to-speech functionality can provide an alternative means for individuals with visual impairments to understand the information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Accessible information refers to the design of digital content, products, and services that can be used by all individuals, including those with disabilities. It aims to remove barriers and provide equal access to information and technology for people with disabilities, such as visual, audial, dyslexia, or cognitive impairments.
Accessibility is not just a legal requirement but a moral obligation to ensure everyone can access digital publishing. Accessibility standards also have significant benefits for publishers. By making their content accessible, publishers can increase their readership and engagement, including individuals with disabilities. Publishers can also improve their SEO ranking and avoid legal issues by following accessibility guidelines.