A Guide to Making Digital Spaces More Inclusive

by Laura Neale and Emma Major


This month, Emma and Laura are going to help you to understand the digital barriers for people with learning disabilities. In this, our first post, we will be giving you some tips on how to make your written content more accessible and inclusive - in other words, enabling people with disabilities to access your websites, blogs and social media spaces).


Later this month, we will be sharing another post, which will help to make your videos on streaming platforms, social media and video conferencing applications more accessible and inclusive for people with learning disabilities too.


Here are 5 ways to make your written content more accessible and inclusive:


1. Avoid publishing solid blocks of text.

Use paragraphs, lists, differing text sizes and spacing between lines. These small changes will help to make large chunks of text less overwhelming to read. If possible, include other media such as images, diagrams and videos to break up the writing.


2. Keep it visually simple.

Although having a variety of media is a good way of providing information in a variety of ways so as it is more accessible for a wider audience, ensure that you don’t use too many different images, sounds or colours as this can cause a sensory overload and make your content less accessible instead of more. And always remember to give credit to the photographer and add ALT TEXT to your images so that screeenreaders can read the content.

A boy with Down's syndrome smiles at an older man, perhaps his father or carer.
Photo by Nathan Anderson: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/disabled

3. Be as clear as you can with your words.

I am a naturally sarcastic person but as might know, sarcasm does not often come across well in a written format as it can be easily misunderstood. Sarcasm and metaphors can be difficult for many people with learning disabilities as they might struggle to discern the intended meaning or context of the phrase. By being clear with your wording and language, you can help to avoid people becoming confused and not understanding the intended meaning of your writing. There is more here on using Clear Words: CLICK HERE


4. Emojis can be very helpful...

...when used sparingly, to portray an emotion not easily interpreted through the words in the main text. Remember, strings of emojis mess up screen reading software! And nor can you assign alt text to help a screenreader "see" the content in this moving gif of a confused emoji.

gif

5. Think of how your users journey through your material.


No one enjoys clicking through lots of menus and pop-ups to get to a piece of content they want to access. It is particularly important to create a smooth user journey with as few barriers as possible to avoid a user with learning disabilities becoming overwhelmed as they are unable to find the blog post or website information they want. If they are unable to access this content, they may leave your website or blog meaning you will have lost out on a potential client/ customer/ user.


There is a great video on this site which gives a case study of how to create a user journey for disabled users: CLICK HERE


Look out for our second blog post later this month for tips on how you can ensure your video content is also accessible and inclusive for people with learning disabilities.