In this blog, you’ll learn how language accessibility intersects with digital accessibility and how it all starts with online content everyone can understand. This is especially important in an increasingly globalized world, where people of all abilities use digital technology to communicate, transact, and access information.
And because communication accessibility helps make your website more digitally inclusive, it also enables you to conform to ADA and WCAG standards. That way, you can empower everyone to use the web equally and mitigate legal complications for your company.
We start with a basic definition of language accessibility and then move on to tips for achieving it.
What is Language Accessibility?
Language accessibility broadly encompasses measures that make content accessible to all people. It accommodates people of all ages and abilities, including those with cognitive disabilities, low literacy skills, and speakers of English as a foreign language. Examples include multilingual website versions, translatable navigation menus, alt text that’s easily readable and understandable, and audio and video content that accommodates end users with limited literacy skills.
How Translations Impact Accessible Communication
Translations are a critical component of accessible language. They grant access to vital information, communication, and culture in different languages, empowering people of diverse backgrounds to participate in everyday life.
For websites and apps, translations are used by people who speak different languages than those who create the content. Therefore, providing accurate, high-quality translations for people of every linguistic background is critical.
Use the tips below as a starter guide for improving communication accessibility.
10 Tips for Better Online Content
1. Use Headings for Optimal Organization
End users, particularly those who rely on screen readers, tend to skim online content. Headings make it easier to do that. It also helps to use consistent formatting for headers so that end users can easily predict and understand your communication hierarchy.
2. Only Include What’s Relevant
Don’t use marketing “fluff” or filler words to over-convey your value proposition. End users only want content (product and service info) that matters to them and want it as quickly as possible.
3. Always Provide Alt Text
These image descriptions enable screen readers to convey content out loud or convert it to Braille for people with visual impairments.
4. Show Clear Purpose Immediately
People typically only read the beginning of content sections, determining whether they want to read more. So start with clearly conveyed messaging that’s engaging and accessible for everyone.
5. Avoid Extra Wording
Remember, you only have a few seconds to capture and retain end users’ attention. So, carefully edit your web content and remove unnecessary, overused words and phrases like significantly, only, very, and I believe.
6. Spell Out Acronyms
Always spell out the first mention of an acronym to ensure easier readability and comprehension.
7. Remain Consistent
Don’t create confusion by using different words to convey the same idea. For example, if you use doctor instead of medical expert once, use that phrase throughout your online content.
8. Always Use The Active Voice
Use the active voice (The boy chases the cat.) instead of the passive voice (The boy is chasing the cat.) Note that the subject (the boy) performs the action in the active voice, which is more direct and easier to understand.
9. Provide Content in Sections
Use a maximum of five sentences for each paragraph, and don’t exceed 25 words per sentence. This approach accommodates most end users, who prefer to digest content in small blocks instead of wading through lengthy, tedious prose.
10. Avoid Idioms
Avoid phrases unique to a specific region. For instance, “you rock!” may not universally resonate with all people. So, it’s critical to understand your target audience intimately, including those with disabilities and language barriers.
Summary: Language Accessibility Is a Good Start
Language accessibility is integral to digital accessibility, as it ensures that everyone can understand and interact with digital content, regardless of their language skills. It’s also critical to overall digital accessibility, helping accommodate people with various disabilities. But it’s only one piece of an increasingly important puzzle that promotes digital inclusivity. Providing accessible language also supports universal efforts to ensure an equal and satisfying digital experience for everyone.
Accessible language is a significant first step in your digital accessibility journey—see how UserWay can guide you the rest of the way.
UserWay: Your All-In-One Accessibility Solution
Digital Accessibility requires multiple tools and best practices, including language accessibility. The good news? UserWay’s AI-driven accessibility tools promote web inclusivity while helping your company conform to all regulatory standards. So let’s work as a team to make the world more inclusive of everyone.
Start with a friendly consultation, or start your free trial right away.
What Does the WCAG Require for Language accessibility?
Go straight to the source, the official WCAG website, for the best answer to this question.
Why Does Language Accessibility Matter?
Language should never be an access barrier in the physical world, just as it should never be an obstacle in the digital world. That’s why language accessibility is a practical and ethical imperative for companies of any size and background.
What’s The Purpose of a Language Access Plan?
This crucial document outlines how to serve non-English speaking people or those with limited proficiency. Of course, an effective language access plan is customizable for each organization. Nonetheless, some universal components—needs assessment, language services offered, notices, training for staff, and evaluation—are generally accepted best practices for any language access plan.