Digital accessibility is always evolving with new and innovative technology regularly being introduced to improve digital inclusion for the better.
In the UK, there are approximately 14.6 million people who have a disability or invisible difference. Despite them making up a huge chunk of society, daily life for disabled consumers can be challenging. This is due to brands being inexperienced or unwilling to include digital accessibility as part of their wider marketing plans. This then prevents disabled customers from shopping online with them.
Assistive technology (in particular screen readers) play an integral part in helping disabled consumers to be able to shop online. This means businesses must embrace and ensure assistive technology can be easily used on their websites to attract, engage and convert leads into sales.
One of the most debated topics when it comes to digital accessibility is how to create accessible hyperlinks. Whilst some screen readers will make it clear where hyperlinks are on the page, not all screen readers offer this. This means brands need to make it clear where their links are to improve the customer journey for disabled consumers. Read on if you would like to learn more about how to create accessible hyperlinks.
What is a screen reader
A screen reader is a piece of assistive technology that reads the contents on the computer screen out loud. The beauty of the software is that it enables people access digital materials more easily. These groups of people include (but is not limited to) those with:
- Auditory Disabilities / Differences: People who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Cognitive Disabilities / Differences: Autism (ASD), ADHD / ADD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia
- Neurological Disabilities / Differences: Epilepsy, Seizures and Dementia
- Physical Disabilities / Differences: Cerebral Palsy, MS, Amputation and Arthritis
- Visual Disabilities /Differences: Blind, Low Vision, Visual Impairment
Other people who may face barriers can include those with temporary disabilities, such as a broken limb, old age as well as non-native speakers. This means screen reader software has the potential to help millions of consumers to easily access digital technology. However the bridge between digital and screen reader software is still in need of improvement to generate greater accessibility online.
How can I ensure my hyperlinks are accessible
Most creators of online content simply add bolded and underlined hyperlinks into text to convey to the reader the content that the link is clickable. Although this is useful for some people, it still excludes a significant amount of consumers. This includes those with cognitive, neurological, visual differences as well as those with multiple disabilities and differences.
Not all screen readers can detect hyperlinks nor can they detect highlighted content. This is why it is key to be specific with call to actions, including making it clear where there is a descriptive clickable link.
For example, if you put a screen reader over the following sentence: For more information go to the about us section – most screen readers would read the text exactly as it is and not make it clear that the wording “about us” is actually a clickable hyperlink. This means brands could be missing out on vital sales from consumers who use screen readers to access the internet. The sentence therefore should read: For more information go to the about us section by clicking here.
If you play the video below, you will easily understand the differences between unclear and clear hyperlinks.
The transcript for the video is as follows:
According to The Purple Pound report the UK disability market’s annual buying power is currently at £274bn, therefore organisations cannot and should not ignore them. Even if your organisation could tap into only 0.00001% of this amount through implementing digital accessibility, then you could bring in an additional £27,400 a year which is a significant amount, especially for small businesses.
With the UK disability market’s annual buying power currently at £274bn, organisations cannot and should not ignore them. Even if your organisation could tap into only 0.00001% of this amount through implementing digital accessibility, then you could bring in an additional £27,400 a year which is a significant amount, especially for small businesses. You can find out more about how inaccessibility prevents business growth by visiting The Purple Pound report by clicking here.
Using descriptive clickable links makes is easier for users regardless of what screen readers they use to easily interpret the what and where.
- The what: being the description of the highlighted link (not everyone will be able to identify the highlighted link)
- The where: of where the clickable link is to find out more about the highlighted content which clearly tells the user what to do
We hope you have found this article useful. If you’d like to improve your digital accessibility skills, then we do offer training. To express an interest in digital accessibility training get in touch by clicking here.