February 19, 2019

Digital Accessibility for Content Marketing


What is Digital Accessibility?

Digital accessibility, or A11Y, is about making sure your content is usable for everyone, especially people with disabilities who make use of assistive technology. This article advises you how to make any type of content more accessible, but it is especially relevant for SellPoints clients, who use our platform to create product content for retail websites to help customers find and buy products online.

SellPoints clients can get our builder’s guide for setting up accessible content. Choose the Build it Yourself Guide or Built by Sellpoints with Quick Launch.

Who or what is A11Y?

No, it’s not an internet personality who spells “Allie” with numbers. It’s a well-established abbreviation for accessibility, based on the eleven letters in the middle of the word. Experts pronounce it “accessibility.” Check out the informative history of the term if you’re curious. You may see it in our OMNI content management system, because it saves screen space for more important things.

Ensuring Your Product Pages are Accessible

Whether you’re one of our customers publishing valuable product page content, or somebody creating any other web content, these are some guidelines that will make a better experience for your users. Especially blind users who get your content through an audio screen reader or low-vision users with a high magnification screen. We’ll also show you how it’s useful for that part of the population who shops on a mobile phone!

Describing Your Images

All meaningful images must have a text equivalent, so screen reader technology can describe them audibly. What is considered meaningful? To see if it would be considered meaningful, ask yourself the following question:

“Is the image beneficial to the product story and can it influence the shopper in making a purchase decision?”

IF NO:

The image conveys no information and is purely decorative. Under the image accessibility settings, set Decorative Image as “True.” This fulfills the ADA requirement for this image. See examples below.

IF YES:

The image must have a text equivalent. This can be either:

  1. On-screen text near the image that describes the image or the significance of the image.
    In this case the image would not need an Accessibility Label under ADA requirements. See examples below.
  2. An Accessibility Label that is used for screen readers, but not visible on the page.
    The Accessibility Label must describe the image in no more than 100 characters. See examples below.

Example: Decorative

The gray image separating the two product lifestyle images is for layout only and does not convey any product meaning. In this case, set Decorative to true.

A decorative gray bar separating two product images

Example: On-screen text

The image is described fully by text below the image. This makes it unnecessary to include an accessibility label for screen reader technology. If we were to also describe the image in the accessibility label the screen reader would read both the label and the text next to the image, which would be redundant.

A product image of an electric bike with descriptive text below

Example: Label

This image conveys important product information without accompanying on-screen text. Use the Accessibility (“a11y”) label to summarize the key points. For example: “Wi Fi Certified camera connects wirelessly to other devices, photo website, and social media.”

Example alt text for a Wi Fi Certified camera that connects wirelessly to other devices, photo website, and social media.

Images with Text

  • Avoid including text within images. Use on-screen text instead.
  • When you have to put text on an image, you must provide the same text that is in the image, in either:
    • The Accessibility (a11y) Label
    • On-screen text accompanying the image
  • The text within the image and its accompanying Accessibility Label should never be longer than 100 characters, including spaces. Note that this is best practice for the retail sites in our network, not a legal requirement.
  • Legal and copyright information within the image do not count toward the 100 character limit.
  • This is in addition to any text needed to describe a meaningful image.

There are two types of Images with text that are acceptable:

  1. Product logos
  2. Diagrams

Examples of acceptable images containing text

Example 1: Product logo

Energy Star logo

On-screen text: none

Accessiblity(a11y) Label: Energy Star logo

 

Example 2: Diagram

Diagram with accessible text

OPTION 1 (technically acceptable)

On-screen text: none

Accessiblity(a11y) Label: “A cutaway diagram of product parts and features”

SellPoints puts the a11y Label in the appropriate accessibility tags. However a blind customer will not know about your product features.

 

OPTION 2 (a better experience)

On-screen text: Full text of the five labeled features A – E. Remove that text from the diagram.

Accessibility (a11y) Label: none

SellPoints pairs the on-screen text with the image as its full description. Blind users and everybody else can read about them.

 

Why is it important to NOT have images of text?

  • Images with text do not optimize well on all mobile devices, reducing conversion rates.
  • Devices with “zoom” technology make images unreadable
  • Screen reader technology for visually impaired consumers cannot read text on images

 

Video Captions

Most people creating product marketing content expect to caption their videos, since they’re perfect for shoppers who simply have their sound muted. But lots of marketers are surprised by some of the needs for accessible closed captioning. All videos need to have closed captioning, even videos with only music audio. You’ll have to mention background sounds too. The SellPoints video player supports all these aspects of closed captioning through VTT files. Below are the FCC requirements for closed captioning:

  • Accurate: Captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible.
  • Synchronous: Captions must coincide with their corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible and must be displayed on the screen at a speed that can be read by viewers.
  • Complete: Captions must run from the beginning to the end of the program to the fullest extent possible.

A frame of video with the descriptive caption "meaty whack, both chuckle" with picture of man laughing

If you are a client familiar with creating closed captioning VTT files, then you can upload them into our platform. And if you need help transcribing your video into a closed captioning VTT file, there are a number of services that can help:

These services are not associated with SellPoints, so do not treat them as recommendations for your specific situation.

Languages

Bear in mind any alternative languages for your accessible content. For example our clients should consider that if publishing on a retailer such as Costco.ca, they must have French closed captioning to comply with both ADA rules and Canadian French requirements.

Why Make the Effort

At times, all these requirements admittedly might seem like a burden. Why take the trouble? On one hand there are legal guidelines, and more retail sites make us all follow them to avoid any problems. But also remember how hard we all work to increase our add-to-cart rates with better content and experiences. Then consider that shoppers with some form of disability account for up to 10% of the US population. This is a great way to turn those shoppers into loyal customers.

SellPoints clients, remember to download our builder’s guide for setting up accessible content. Choose the Build it Yourself Guide or Built by Sellpoints with Quick Launch.