How to improve the digital accessibility of your content

24 January 2023

Did you know that there are 2 million people with a disability in the Netherlands? For a lot of these people digital accessibility matters, and from 2025, it will be mandatory for all organisations in the Netherlands to provide digital content that is accessible. In this blog we will tell you what digital accessibility is, why it is important, and what tools you need to get started with digital accessibility.

man listening to content on phone

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility means that all your online communication can be used by everyone. This includes your website and your apps, PDFs, images, infographics, forms, and videos. This may sound logical, but just because digital assets work for you doesn't mean they're usable for everyone. For example, have you also considered people who are blind, deaf, have low levels of literacy or have impaired motor functionality. For people with impaired hearing it is difficult to fully understand a video without subtitles, and visually impaired people may not be able to distinguish certain colours on your website from each other, causing them to miss important information. Therefore, it is all the more important to pay attention to digital accessibility.

Essential for some, great for all

The most important advantage of digital accessibility is that everyone within your target group benefits. Digital accessibility also contributes to your findability in Google. You could think of Google as the most important user with a disability. By making information accessible, you also help Google better understand it and direct users to the right information.

content accessibility

How to get started with digital accessibility

The steps you need to take to improve digital accessibility are different for every website. Start with an accessibility study to help you to identify the improvements you should make to your website. Nevertheless, in the field of content, there are some points that you should take into account, starting with these four practical tips.

1. Use the correct formatting for headings

A good digital text starts with the headline. Headings provide structure and ensure that important information can be found quickly. This also applies to blind or visually impaired people who use the read aloud function. Correct use of headings provides them with a good picture of the page’s content. A common mistake is when headings are formatted with bold letters, which is only a visual change to the text, while the website’s html code doesn’t identify the text as a heading. When using headings, always use the correct ranking (H1, H2, H3, etc.). Skipping a level is not a problem if the ranking is correct. Google also looks at headings and regards an H1 a lot more important than, for example, an H4.

2. Write clear link texts

Write link texts that clearly show where the link leads, even if you don't read the text around it. Some visitors use reading software or voice-activated navigation. A link text such as 'click here' or 'read more' is meaningless. 'Read more about digital accessibility' would be more appropriate.

3. Use digitally accessible colours

Colour contrast between the text on your website and the background colour improves readability for every visitor. But for some users, contrast is extra important especially for users with a visual impairment. Are you uncertain about your website’s colour contrast? Use the WCAG Colour contrast checker to make sure your website is visible for everyone.

4. Give all content images a text alternative

There are two types of images: content and decorative. Do you want to convey information with an image? Then it is important to make the image accessible to visitors who use reading software or apply their own formatting (for example because of a motor impairment). Among other things, you can make images accessible by adding alt text. In this text you describe what can be seen on the picture. Does the image contain no useful information? Then it is better not to give a text alternative.

For some users, digital accessibility is essential, but the benefits extend to everyone. Get started with digital accessibility and contribute to an inclusive digital society for all.

Glenda Kregel
About the author
Glenda Kregel
Content specialist - iO

With a background in PR, communications, social media and marketing, Glenda Kregel is considered one of iO’s experienced specialists to talk to about content. Additionally, she has grown to stick to digital accessibility more and more - necessary to some, pleasant for all.

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