For a blog about invisible disabilities, I sure took a long time to make my blog as accessible as it could be. I’ve now taken action to make that right, and I’ve created this article so other people can make their sites more accessible too. Accessibility is important, and if nothing else, it’ll help you keep more visitors to your site/blog.
A Basic SEO Option Also Helps With Your Sites Accessibility
Alt text (alternative text)
If you’re not already doing this, then get started ASAP. Not only will adding alt text to your images improve the accessibility to readers who have a visual impairment, it’ll also improve your SEO. If you don’t believe me, then listen to Moz.
Accessibility Options To Attract And Keep Dyslexic Visitors
Add extra space around headings and between paragraphs
This suggestion came from The British Dyslexia Association. If you ever wondered why I use a lot of spacing around my content, this is why. The reason I use a lot of empty spaces between paragraphs is to help break up the text to make it easier to read for people who are dyslexic, like me.
Justified text alignment
I’ve seen this on a few blogs, and found it weird and distracting when I’m trying to read their content. But I didn’t know what it was called until I came across UX Movement. Simply put, it’ll add spaces in weird place in the line of text to make it flush to both sides of the text box. For example, you’ll get stuff like: ‘hi, how are you?’ to fit the line fully or ‘h i, how are y ou?’. Justified text alignment also bugs none dyslexics too.
*Example taken from ninchronicles.com
Also, try not to use hyphens that split up a word at random when at the end of a line of text that finishes on the following line of text. I can’t spell a word at the best of time. If you portal the word to two different ends of a line of text, I’m going to struggle to read it. I’m also going to get frustrated with reading your content. Keep it simple by using a basic align left text.
Use white space to remove clutter around content
As I’ve already said, I do this by providing lots of white space between each paragraph, my images, and my adverts to declutter my website. I know this isn’t how most sites layout their content, and it doesn’t look as aesthetically pleasing, but I know it can help dyslexic readers, like myself.
Use short and simple sentences
I’m really trying to do this, but find it really hard, especially when talking about journal studies I’m using in my articles. But I’m better than I was when I started out blogging.
Avoid abbreviations where possible; always provide the expanded form when first used
The British Dyslexia Association suggests avoiding the use of abbreviations, which is understandable. If you don’t know the word they’re abbreviating or they’ve abbreviated a lot of words, you can easily get lost in what you’re reading. And there’s nothing worse than trying to search through the text looking for what the abbreviation stands for.
This is a problem I run into a lot when journal researching. It’s also something you run into when trying to avoid going over your word count for university course work. I over describe and struggle with condensing my work, so a way to save on your word count is to abbreviate.
I picked up this habit while doing my undergraduate degree before I even knew I was dyslexic. I always provide the full version of the thing I later abbreviate. With my blog, I try not to abbreviate words that aren’t already common knowledge, like OCD for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although I may have let this slip a few times when talking about my borderline personality disorder (BPD), because of my overuse of the abbreviation in my everyday life.
Use sufficient contrast levels between background and text
This was another tip provided by The British Dyslexia Association. A simple black on white or white on black is all you need for this one. However, some dyslexic people may find white too dazzling and prefer a different background colour. Luckily, this is only really an issue when printing material to read; digitally, they will probably reduce the brightness to cope. So you won’t really need to worry about this.
However, you could choose a slightly greyed background colour, which I decided to try out. While researching this article, I decided to implement this accessibility option. So if you wondered why I’d greyed my background on the 10/11/2021, this is why, so I can improve my blogs accessibility.
Use simple font types
This can make the text easier to read and feel less crowded. Even when writing by hand, I avoid writing in joined up handwriting and lower case writing because I struggle with reading my handwriting. The last thing I want is to have that experience when reading something online. Really fancy fonts can be a genuine struggle to read.
Using fonts like sans serif fonts, such as Arial, and Comic Sans or Verdana, Tahoma, Century Gothic, Trebuchet, Calibri, and Open Sans (The British Dyslexia Association) will go along way to improving the accessibility of your content.
Break up the text with regular section headings in long documents and include a table of contents
Although this was recommended by The British Dyslexia Association, I have to admit, I’m not very good at breaking up my text with headings. I can rarely think of heading names with which to break up my text. I can also struggle to find a suitable place to insert a heading, especially ones that also help with my SEO. But I added a contents section to all my articles where there were headings used.
I choose to manually change all my hyper links in my articles and page texts to red because it fits with my logo, and it helps me massively with making them stand out from the text. A trick I used before I found out I was dyslexiac to help with studying was to write in bullet points and to write each bullet point in a different colour. Red and black were the colours that worked best for me. Greens and blues don’t stick out enough.
The three I struggle with
- Use active rather than passive voice.
- Be concise; avoid using long, dense paragraphs.
- Use short, simple sentences in a direct style.
These three were also suggested by The British Dyslexia Association. I’m dyslexic, and I learnt a pretty bad way to cope with the issues it caused me in my efforts to hide how stupid I thought I was. This was pre-spell check and autocorrect. Instead, we had to look up spelling in a physical dictionary meant having to at least have an idea of how a word was spelt in the first place. As such, I was left with habits that helped at the time but are now a problem with trying to make my content more accessible.
I’m trying my hardest to increase the accessibility of my work. I’m getting more concise thanks to grammar and spell check extensions, but I still struggle with this, and I likely always will. I over wrote to get around words I couldn’t spell, turning one word into a sentence as compensation for my issues with spelling. It’s a lot harder to stop doing than you’d think.
When reading long blocks of text, I often forget what I’ve read, as my dyslexia affects my short-term memory. The irony being that I can struggle to write concisely. So if you can, try making your paragraphs less dense and to break up large blocks of text into a series of smaller ones. Enormous blocks of text can be off-putting and a little daunting for people with dyslexia.
However, with active and passive voice, I have no idea how to make sure everything I write is in active voice, and I’ll switch without realising I’ve done it. Proofreading rarely helps me pick up on this issue either.
Use bullet points
A quick way to break up text is to use bullet points or numbering. I use this from time to time, but not as often as I should, due in part to my difficulties in making stuff more concise. Plus, WordPress doesn’t let me have a space between each bullet point, so that doesn’t break up the text well enough for me. If they changed that, I’d use them more.
Colour Blind Visitors
Avoid green and red/pink
Surprisingly, this too was suggested by The British Dyslexia Association. I’d like to apologise to anyone whose colour blind for my use of red hyperlinks, but it helps me to identify my own hyperlinks and it’s in keeping with my logo’s colour theme. I hope you can forgive me for this one. I’m hoping it’s not much of an issue as it’s red and black, unlike using greens and blues.
One Click Accessibility
I tried this plugin out for myself, and you don’t need to do anything to set it up as you’re ready to go as soon as you active the plugin. Going to Appearance > Customise will allow you to change the appearance of their floating icon that’ll open the accessibility options. Some of the accessibility options this plugin offers include changing the font type, the font size, background colour, underlining links, and changing to grey scale.
This is the current plugin I have installed on my site. If you see the blue disability icon hovering on the left-side of the screen, that’s this plugin. I also have it installed on my blogs shop, but it’s on the right side instead over there.
Just click the blue disability icon to open the menu and experiment with the settings to make my blog more accessible to you. Or, you could just try it out to see if this is something you’d like to and to your website.
I installed this app and went to its setting to set it up and it offers a lot of settings options. I’m sure it’s a great plugin for accessibility, but I was a little overwhelmed by it. As such, I didn’t fiddle with the settings, as the One Click Accessibility just seems like an easy decision to use instead.
WordPress has several other accessibility plugins available, which you can view by clicking here. The plugins range from more comprehensive accessibility options to the more stand ones, like a widget for changing font size.
Look, we’re not all going to be able to follow every single piece of accessibility advice, and that’s ok. Even I won’t be able to do all of them, and I’m an invisible disability blogger. I just suggest doing what you can to help make your site more accessible where and when you can.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences website and blog accessibility in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget to bookmark my site and if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.