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How easy is it for people to buy from you? Have you ever considered how accessible your business is? Is your website easy to navigate for someone using a screen reader? Have you heard of Capital Camel Case Hashtags?

Recently on the podcast I chatted with Jodie Greer, founder of Be #PeopleSmart. Be #PeopleSmart supports organisations of all sizes from all sectors, both private and public, to be more inclusive by considering all staff and customers in the way they operate and communicate.

Jodie shares why your small business needs to be accessible, and the easy steps you can take to make your business more inclusive.

Image taking you to podcast image for this blog post

I often talk about accessibility for customers; however, I don’t aim this at small or medium sized businesses often enough. This blog post is one step in the right direction for me to change that and ensure Be #PeopleSmart are supporting all companies to be inclusive and accessible.

Disability inclusion and accessibility is often either misunderstood or unheard of. When I tell people how many more people they could reach with a few changes to how they communicate, I’m met with positive surprise at least 90% of the time.

Did you know that increasing your customer reach by up to 25% is as easy as ABC?

By making your branding, your advertising, your social media posts and any other communications accessible, you can reach a much wide audience and increase revenue.

If people cannot see, hear or understand what products or services you are offering, then they either won’t know you exist, or the uncertainty will send them elsewhere.

It’s the same with branding, if people cannot see or understand it, even if they place a one-off order it’s unlikely you’ll stick in their mind for future needs.

So, what does ‘accessible’ actually mean with regards digital channels?

In short, accessible means the vast majority of people can access and understand information.

Accessibility is often linked to disability inclusion, as many people with disabilities can only access accessible information; however, the reality is accessibility improves the experience for everyone. And we all know, if you have a positive experience, you’re far more likely to be a repeat customer and to tell your friends.

How will accessibility increase revenue?

1 in 5 working age adults have a disability, that’s a lot of people.

You may have heard of the Purple Pound, which is the spending power of people with disabilities and their households.

The Purple Pound is worth $8 trillion (US Dollars) globally and £274 billion in the UK alone. Can you afford to miss out on that?

The value of accessibility goes beyond the Purple Pound too. Accessibility helps everyone. I’ve looked at products before and the information and/or ordering process just wasn’t clear enough to give me confidence, so I clicked away and looked elsewhere. It could have been your site I looked at first, and I won’t be the only one.

What can you do?

There are so many things you can do, to start you off here are my top 4 tips

1.     Include alternative text with images or graphics.

  • Ensure alternative text is descriptive, think about what the image or graphic is intended to share.
    1. Don’t just list a lot of words because you think it will help with SEO (search engine optimisation), can you imagine being a screen reader user and that’s the purpose of the image? You can have the best of both world if you think about the description.
    2. If the platform doesn’t allow for alternative text, include a description elsewhere in the post or listing. For instance, on Amazon include a full description in your listing and include any detail shown in the images, and if using a scheduler for a LinkedIn post you can simply include “image shows…” in your post.
    3. Remember this includes text that is displayed in a graphic format.

2.     Think about your text styles.

  • Some font styles are very difficult for people to read, particularly the very fancy ones. If you really want to use these for your branding, then think about a plainer text alternative alongside it.
    1. Left is best. Centre or right aligned text is difficult for some people to read and so the likelihood is, unless they feel it’s essential to put the extra effort in, they will just click away.
    2. Avoid underlining, as this depicts a hyperlink, or italics for emphasis. Use bold instead.
    3. Avoid using all capital letters unless it’s an acronym. Capitals can feel aggressive to some people and a screen reader will usually read out each letter by default, not the experience intended.

3.     Keep your messages intuitive, from hashtags to hyperlinks.

  • Use capital camel case hashtags. This simply means making the first letter of each word a capital letter. Not only can those who can see it read it correctly, but screen readers will also read it as intended #CapitalCamelCase.
    1. Make sure your hyperlinks make it clear where or what they are linking to. Avoid ‘here’ or ‘more’ and stick to things like Be #PeopleSmart website. It’s easy to build this into your message and in my opinion looks neater too. Managing expectation and avoiding ambiguity is helpful. It’s also worth noting that screen reader users can access a list of all links on a page or document, to then navigate to where they want to be; how would you know where each of the 7 mores and 6 heres will take you?

4.     Colour can make or break your message

  • Colour contrast is very important. This is the colour of text or a graphic versus the colour of the background. I often see people using pastel colours with white text and even with my glasses on, I have to really concentrate to work out what it says. A lot of the time I just scroll on by. For some people, even contrasts that may look sufficient to you, may make the text or image invisible. The good news is, there’s a quick and easy tool (there are more than one, but his is my favourite and it’s free!) that enables you to check 2 colours against each other in just 2 clicks. Check out the colour contrast analyser from TPGi (see what I did there with the hyperlink).
    1. The use of colours alone to share information is simply not enough. Adding a label will not only help those who don’t see colours the same way you do, it will also enable a screen reader to share the information.

If you start implementing the simple changes I’ve mentioned above, then you will be well on your way to reaching a far wider audience and improving the experience for your current customer base.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these tips, accessibility in general or where you need more help to be inclusive. Please add a comment or get in touch.

If you would like to progress to coaching, or an audit of your channels, please contact our team.

Jodie Greer is the founder of Be #PeopleSmart, and an expert in helping organisations achieve disability inclusion and access.