Accessibility Guidelines for Digital Publishers
Written by Matt Berringer
September 8, 2022
Societal barriers that do not consider some people with disabilities’ needs — for example, a lack of wheelchair-accessible entrances. By improving accessibility measures, people with physical impairments enjoy greater independence and more seamless experiences in the world around them. The same goes for digital accessibility.
Digital accessibility refers to designing online publications, websites and technologies that are easy to use for everyone, regardless of personal or situational barriers. Recognizing and addressing the obstacles that hinder online content accessibility gives web users more choice and control over the content they view.
As a publisher, your online magazines should adhere to digital accessibility standards to ensure your readers can use your content and enjoy positive user experiences. You can achieve these goals by embracing the four pillars of accessibility in your publication.
The Four Pillars of Accessibility in Publishing
To enforce and improve digital accessibility, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) established globally recognized guidelines for creating accessible online experiences called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These standards, also known as “POUR,” define criteria for optimizing web content.
POUR states that all online content should be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust to be digitally accessible to web users.
You must present all information within your digital publication and methods of interacting with it in a way that users can perceive. These elements cannot be invisible to any of the senses. For example, any video content in your publication should include closed captioning so individuals who are hard of hearing can still understand it.
Ways you can make your content more accessible include:
- Text alternatives: Offering text alternatives allows users to translate content into large print, speech or braille.
- Adaptable content presentation: This method delivers content in different formats without compromising quality.
- Visually distinguishable elements: You can make your content easier to see and hear by separating the foreground from the background through color and audio control.
- Alternatives for time-based media: Some substitutes for time-based media include captions, audio descriptions and prerecorded video- and audio-only content.
Through operability guidelines, web users should be able to locate your content through any interaction, such as keyboard commands, voice recognition and other assistive technologies. For example, someone who cannot use a standard keyboard or mouse due to mobility issues should still be able to navigate your publication with adaptive switches if they choose to.
You can make your online magazine more operable through:
- Keyboard accessibility: All functionality should be achievable through a keyboard.
- Reading time: Ensure web users have enough time to use and read your content.
- Content design: Your content should not comprise a design that may cause seizures.
- Navigation: Users should be able to navigate, find content and identify where they are within your publication.
This digital accessibility standard states that users should be able to understand your content and operate your user interface easily. In addition, users should be able to remember how to use your website in return visits. That means your information should not be beyond any reader’s understanding, regardless of their abilities. For example, your publication should use simple language set at an eighth- or ninth-grade reading level so users of all cognitive levels can comprehend it.
Understandable digital solutions should be:
- Readable: Your content should be easy to read and understand through tactics like simple language, abbreviation explanations and jargon definitions.
- Predictable: All web pages should be predictable in their design and operation.
- Assistive: You can help users avoid and correct mistakes with input assistance controls like error identification, prevention and suggestion.
The final pillar of accessibility asserts that your content should be robust so that many users can interpret it, including current, outdated and future assistive technologies. In other words, your content should remain accessible even as technologies evolve, giving users a choice in what solutions they use to interact with your publication.
For example, though older adults are more likely to use outmoded operating systems and browsers, they should still be able to access your content using these older technologies.
You can ensure that your digital magazine is robust by maximizing its compatibility with past, present and future user agents and assistive technologies.
Embrace Digital Accessibility in Publishing With Nxtbook Media
You can achieve optimal digital accessibility in your publication with solutions from Nxtbook Media. We offer next-level software for creating interactive digital content experiences and replicating print publication layouts.
Schedule a demo of our solutions today!