Every member of your organization should share a commitment to accessibility.
That certainly includes content writers. The stories you tell on your website can have an extraordinary impact on your audience, and an inclusive approach will make your writing more effective.
In other articles, we’ve discussed how clear, concise content benefits accessibility, and we’ve provided tips for creating more accessible content. Today, we’ll discuss how you can promote accessibility by highlighting disabilities and chronic illnesses — without changing much about the way you write your content.
1. Look for inclusive stock photos
Unless your organization has a well-funded art department, you probably rely on stock photos to add visual flair to your content. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that approach; we use stock photos regularly on this blog.
But unfortunately, many stock photos portray disabilities as a problem that needs to be solved. That can be exhausting for people who have those conditions — accurate representation is important, and many people don’t consider their conditions to be a “burden.”
If you’re writing about disabilities, you can make your content more inclusive by finding positive depictions of disabilities and chronic illnesses. One excellent resource: Disabled and Here, a disability-led stock image and interview series that offers free images celebrating disabled Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
You can also find plenty of inclusive images on other popular stock photo websites. Look for photos that support your content without portraying disabilities in a negative way.
2. Avoid making assumptions about your readers
People use a wide variety of technologies to access the internet, so don’t make assumptions about their behavior. Your word choice can show people whether you’re thinking about them when writing your content.
For example, directing users to “click here" isn’t offensive, but if a person uses a touchscreen to navigate the internet, they don’t click — they tap. Likewise, telling people to “look at the image below" leaves out the people in your audience who can’t perceive content visually.
You don’t need to obsess over every word, and most readers will forgive you if you make mistakes. However, thinking about your entire audience will help your writing reach more people.
3. Don’t be afraid to discuss disabilities directly
You might be anxious about discussing disabilities and chronic illnesses. That anxiety is normal, but if you’re promoting accessibility, you’re helping to move the conversation in the right direction.
Many major brands have dedicated web pages that discuss their accessibility achievements. For example, Apple’s accessibility page shows product features and provides links to support resources. Microsoft operates an accessibility blog, which discusses the company’s ongoing efforts to create products that work for more customers.
Discussing disabilities helps you showcase your brand’s principles, and more importantly, it compels other people to join the discussion.
4. Be proud of your accomplishments
If your organization fixes a major web accessibility barrier or rolls out a new feature, your audience needs to know. As you adopt the best practices of accessibility, write about the issues you encounter, how you addressed them, and why it’s important.
Promote your accomplishments on your website and on social media. If you receive feedback, listen — especially if your readers provide suggestions for additional improvements.
For more guidance, download our free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Web Accessibility.