According to the American Foundation for the Blind, 20.6 million people in the U.S. experience vision loss. Advancements in technology help people with no or low vision navigate the internet but it still has its challenges. Many companies strive to make their websites accessible to vision-impaired people but fail to pay the same attention to their advertising. Let’s take a look at some ways brands can accommodate this important demographic at a time when today’s marketing channels rely so heavily on visual content. 1. Adapt images for accessibility by color blind individuals. It’s estimated that eight percent of men and 1 in 200 women are color blind. There are many variations of color blindness but the most common form is the inability to see red and green correctly. Make sure your marketing images and logo aren’t reliant on the ability to view these colors in order to interpret the message. Also, ensure your phrasing is sensitive to your color blind audience. Steer clear of messages like, “Enter the code in shown in the red box for a chance to win” when there are a smattering of colored boxes all over the ad. 2. Use “alt text” when displaying images. Screen readers can’t describe images displayed on a monitor but they can read the alternative text embedded into to website. All commonly-used content management systems have this option so make sure to use it to its full advantage. If your ad displays a picture of a boy on a bench, describe the image concisely but accurately. For infographics, feel free to elaborate on the data so visitors can glean as much information as possible from your image. 3. Beware of embedded visuals. Unfortunately, the buttons used to manipulate content from sites like YouTube and Slideshare are sometimes inaccessible by assistive technology. Whenever you use embedded content, be sure to include a link to the original source so viewers have different access options if they need it. How Blind People Access the Internet 4. Include blind actors and models in your marketing materials. It’s not enough to simply use actors pretending to be blind, employ people who are actually visually-impaired. It’s disrespectful to depict able-bodied individuals using wheelchairs in advertising, and the same holds true for any other segment of the population who are impaired in some way. Your viewers will appreciate the authenticity. 5. Make your call to action accessible. If your content’s call to action includes signing up or registering for something, be sure your form or entry fields are laid out in a logical manner and clearly spell out what information is required. Radio buttons should also be avoided since they don’t work reliably across all accessibility-enabled browsers. 6. Optimize your website. Your marketing copy is designed to drive customers to your website so make sure it’s accessible once they arrive. Visitors with a vision impairment will most likely be using assistive technology but it’s important to do your part to make your site tech-friendly. The American Foundation for the Blind and WebAIM have several tip sheets and tutorials that help make your website welcoming for people with low or no vision. It’s difficult to accommodate every vision-impairment scenario that may crop up. However, customers will appreciate knowing you’re making a concerted effort to make your content as accessible as possible. Images: Eiti Kimura and Mashable.
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