How to write an accessible blog
Read more about ways to make your blog accessible to readers suffering from vision impairments and disabilities.
When writing a blog, it is easy to forget that some visitors have vision impairments and disabilities that can come in the way of their reading experience. It is our responsibility to make our websites as accessible as possible so we don't discriminate against any of our users.
The University has a guidance, which gives information to users of our site about it's accessibility.
The UK Government provides advice on web accessibility.
Read more about how to make your blog accessible below.
Accessibility when choosing your blog’s appearance
Picking colours: It is best to not use high-saturation images that can be very distracting: muted tones are best. The way you contrast colours is also crucial: a high contrast is preferred. The minimum contrast between background and foreground colours should be (4.5:1; 3.1:1 for large text). Visit Vischeck to verify if your colours will be readable to people who are colourblind.
- Picking animation/theme: There are multiple themes on WordPress that are specifically listed as accessible, our own EdGel theme is a good choice. General rules in terms of your blog’s general appearance would be to avoid intense graphics, overwhelming wallpapers or anything moving/flashing. These can trigger migraines and seizures in susceptible people. See also the information on 'Fonts' below.
- Navigation on your blog: Making sure readers can easily find their way through your blog is essential. Include headers and sidebars for people to be able to navigate easily. You can also optionally include links to return to the welcome page or top of the page.
Accessibility when using media
Using media in your blog post is essential to chop up long pieces of writing and make the reading experience more dynamic. However, many of us use it to convey essential information while forgetting that some readers cannot process/see that media. Generally, always make sure you add a description to your media or an alternative paragraph conveying the information you might have featured, for instance, in a graph.
Adding music: You might want to include music as part of your blog. However, we recommend that you don’t make it play automatically, instead giving the reader the option to listen to it. Some readers with disabilities might find it distracting and difficult to read your content while music is playing. A widget with a play button found in the sidebar is a viable option.
Videos: Adding transcripts to your videos is now a requirement for the University. Whether readers need captions for convenience or for accessibility, it is worth taking the time to add not only subtitles, but descriptions of what is happening on screen.
Pictures: Pictures are a great way to break up long posts and make the reading experience more dynamic. However, it is important to remember to add a description to them via an alt tag. This doesn’t simply mean captioning them, but rather trying to convey a written image of what we see for people who cannot. Alt tags are read out loud for those users of your site who use a screen reader such as Jaws.
Accessibility when writing
Font: Remember to make your text legible. A lot of visitors will not be able to read small fonts, and zooming in might disrupt their navigation of your blog. It is recommended to use at least a 14 point font. Also avoid using italics and blocks of upper-case text as they can be hard to read.
Link-texts: Using link-texts in a blog is a great way to redirect your audience to useful websites or other parts of your site. When doing so, it is good to remember to be as descriptive as possible. For instance, avoid non-descriptive link-texts such as ‘Click Here’, instead write ‘Consult this useful page about Link-Texts for more information’.
Scannable content: Make your writing easy to scan through. You can do this by reducing the length of your sentences and paragraphs and adding headings and quotes throughout your post. Putting your headings in order can also help readers to navigate around your blog post and quickly find the important points you want to convey.
Vocabulary: While your blog’s content might be specific to an academic theme, try to keep your vocabulary intuitive and understandable. It is a good idea to avoid abbreviations if you can, and otherwise explain them for those who do not know about the topic at hand.
Ways to check your blog is accessible:
Look at your blog in a different browser or via your phone to make sure it appears in the same way. You would be surprised at how different your blog could look on Internet Explorer compared to Google Chrome.
There are accessibility checkers available online (such as the Wave Website). Please note: these will only work if your blog is set as public.
Is your blog accessible? A final checklist:
Your blog features muted colours with high contrast. You have visited Vischeck to make sure your colours are readable to all.
You are not using intense graphics: moving or flashing images, themes or wallpapers that could trigger seizures or migraines to susceptible people.
It is easy for users to navigate around your blog and scan through articles to find relevant information (ideally, you have used headers and sidebars).
You have added transcripts to your videos, kept music optional and added descriptions to your images.
You have used a 14point font and avoided italics and blocs of upper case that make reading difficult.
You have explained specific or complicated vocabulary and been as descriptive as possible when using link-texts.
Find out more
There are some really helpful resources available to guide you in making your site accessible:
- Alt-texts: The Ultimate Guide - a really comprehensive guide to alt-texts, written by a web developer who is visually impaired.
- Understanding WCAG 2.0 - A UK Government site with guidance on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
- Make WordPress Accessible [WordPress Handbook] - this site gives specific tips for creating accessible content using WordPress.