These Hacks Will Make Your Website Fully Accessible for Anyone With a Hearing Impairment
If your business has a physical location, you’re probably already familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed in 1990, the ADA gives legal protection to individuals with disabilities, ensuring equal access to opportunities in everyday life. This includes everything from prohibiting discrimination in employment to requiring accessibility in public spaces.
Now that the world has evolved and public space includes where we go online, Medium explains how the ADA can be interpreted to include websites. What this means for businesses isn’t always clear since this is such new territory, but what you can count on is that the demand for web accessibility will only continue to increase.
Why Make Your Website Friendly to the Hearing Impaired?
As a small business owner, you obviously want to protect yourself from being hit with a lawsuit, but more importantly, web accessibility is becoming a best practice. Think about just how many people fall into the category of having some hearing impairment. While a smaller percentage of people belong to the deaf community, about 20 percent of people have some hearing loss. This means that you may not be getting across to one in five people who visit your website!
How to Better Reach the Hearing Impaired
To make sure you’re reaching everyone, it helps to understand what accessibility really means. Business News Daily describes accessibility as ensuring that anyone can “meaningfully engage with the content on your website.” Achieving this goal can take place in multiple ways, but these are just a few areas where we think it’s most important to concentrate your efforts:
Transcription and Captions
One way to make sure customers can engage in your content meaningfully is to make all types of content accessible. If you use videos or audio, don’t assume that customers who are hearing impaired will simply engage your written content. To give all visitors the full experience of your site, the best solution is to provide transcripts of audio and videos. Instead of taking the time to transcribe everything yourself, it’s much easier and affordable to use a transcription service like Rev, which costs only $.10 per minute and provides your finished work in just 5 minutes.
Part of what makes any business a success lies in forming relationships, and to do that, you have to communicate with customers effectively. One recommendation from the website Hearing Like Me is to use simple English. For some people who have hearing loss, sign language is their first language, which may make it hard for someone to understand complex English. The same website also recommends providing multiple ways of contacting you. You will naturally form better relationships with customers when they can email or chat with you just as easily as calling.
Business.com explains how individuals who communicate with sign language will often use their eyes as a cursor, which means they may have an easier time filling out forms with an onscreen keyboard. They may also have a more user-friendly experience by being able to access a search bar from any page. Any user will also have a better experience when your site’s overall appearance is clear and consistent.
Accessible Social Media
Engaging with customers on social media is almost like an extension of your own business website these days, so why wouldn’t you carry over the same accessibility efforts? Entrepreneur explains how you can easily take some of the same steps on social media that you do on your business site. In particular, make hashtags easier to read by using camelcase. In their example, you would use #CheckOutMyHashtag instead of the all caps version #CHECKOUTMYHASHTAG.
When you start thinking about accessibility, you may be surprised to find just how many ways a website can be improved for easier use. In a time when customers are demanding better and faster service online, the last thing you want to do is create barriers. Breaking down these barriers is not only better for your customers – it’s better for your business, too.
Photo credit: Rawpixel
Guest Blog Post by Katie C