The Importance of Accessibility

According to the CDC, 25% of adults in the United States have some form of disability.  A good percentage of disabilities are those with hearing and sight impairments. When it comes to using a website, products or service descriptions, online videos, purchasing, and navigation, your content should optimized for accessibility.  And because niche markets have specialized interests,  the markets sizes will be smaller that larger segments of the population. That means for a niche business, every sale counts.  So, optimize your website to include those with hearing or sight impairments, or you will lose out on online purchase opportunities from those potential customers.

Accessibility is equally important for informational and educational websites. Perhaps you are providing information about cancer treatments, parenting, or protecting the environment. Make your website accessible for those with hearing and vision impairment so they too can learn what they want to know.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the standard for fully compliant website accessibility. There’s a rather long list of requirements. While full WCAG compliance takes some time, there are easy adjustments you can make now. It’s also helpful to use an accessibility checker.  There are free ones, and websites like assiBe provide accessibility checking. Microsoft 365 software also includes an accessibility checker.  So what can you do to make your niche website more accessible?  Read on.

Ways to Make Your Website More Accessible

In order to read your text Visually impaired people need high contrast between text color and background color.  High contrast is especially  important for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts.  You can easily check your contrast colors for accessibility for free on the Accessible Web website.

Alt Text
Seeing images is difficult for people with visual impairments, and some can’t see them at all.  They depend on alt text to tell them what the image is about.  Alt text is written copy that’s read aloud by a screen reader.  It’s also indexed by search engines and appears when an image fails to load. Alt text does not appear on a computer screen. Instead it is contained in the HTML code. Many theme templates do the coding for you, and all you have to do is write the words. There are websites that offer free alt text checkers to make sure your text is accessible.

Descriptive URLS
For visually impaired people, descriptive URLs (also known as descriptive links) give context of a URL, and make it easier to skip to the right content.  However the descriptions need to be meaningful for them to be of use. For example, a meaningful description that gives some context for a URL is the “About” page.  Instead of, it’s better to use a URL such as

Structured Headings
Visually impaired people use screen readers. While software is required for a screen reader, there is screen reader software that’s completely free. Screen readers are used for understanding the nature of content.  That’s why it’s important to use structured headings so that your main heading (H1) identifies the topic and then the subheadings group topical information into a logical order. In addition, screeners in general are widely used by the general population. Think of structured headings like an outline for writing a paper.  

Adjustable Font Size
Those with low vision often need to resize text to read it.  Thankfully the ability to enlarge text is done in a browser’s setting. However, every now a website may truncate or overlap the text when a user enlarges text.  Websites that are built with predesigned theme templates are usually coded to prevent that problem.  Make sure you go on your website and view it at various font sizes to make sure the text is resizing properly.  WordPress Mobile-Friendly Themes are quite good ad building websites that not only can adjust text/, but also create responsive text.

There are two kinds of captions.  There are called open and closed captions. Open captioning appears at the bottom or top of a video with words that are the same as the audio. Open captioning is always on and can’t be turned off.  Closed captioning can be turned on or off by the viewer. Video captioning is highly important for people with hearing impairments.  Your website videos will be of little use if they can’t access audio.  Rev is a a preferred caption service for creating open and closed captioning. On a side note, over 50% of viewers with unimpaired hearing watch videos with the sound off and use captions instead.  

Keyboard Navigation
Visual and physical disabilities make using a mouse difficult if not impossible, and a keyboard is necessary for those with disabilities to use the internet. In addition there are many people with conditions like arthritis, hand tremors, and carpel tunnel syndrome. Providing keyword navigation can be complicated. It’s possible to do it yourself . But, if you find implementing keyboard navigation is confusing, you may have to find a website designer to help you.

Make Optimizing for Accessibility a Priority
Just because someone with a disability wouldn’t use your product or service, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it accessible.  People with hearing or sight impairments buy gifts for people who don’t have an impairment. Gifts for birthdays anniversaries, Mothers and Fathers Day, bar mitzvahs, graduations, and wedding presents are all commonly purchased by people whose hearing or sight are impaired.

Optimizing your niche website for accessibility makes good niche business sense.  Your sales will be higher if people in your niche market can use your website. It’s not hard to do and you will reap the purchase rewards for doing it.