by Author Jana Jammal

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Making your content accessible

‘Be Inclusive’ is one of Youth Music’s core values. We’ve an equality, diversity and inclusion action plan which sets out our priorities. Ensuring our content is accessible and easy to understand is an important goal in this plan. We try to find and remove as many barriers as possible when creating content. In this blog, we’ve compiled quick tips and links that help us do this.

We know that not all organisations will have the same resources to make their content accessible. We’ve found that the best way to make our content accessible is making it everyone’s responsibility and embedding it within our practices.

What is content?

Content can range from copy for job descriptions, tweets, press releases, newsletters, blogs, presentations, and information on our websites. It can come in a variety of formats such as text (copy), video, images, and presentation decks.

How to make your copy accessible

The easiest way to make your copy accessible is by using plain simple language. This also means:

  • No acronyms (unless it’s commonly used, like the NHS).
  • No jargon.
  • No figurative language (like "in a nutshell’).

Keep your sentences and documents short. Use bullet points and paragraphs to break up the text. Front load information as much as possible, so the most important points are read first.

Many software packages now include features to help improve access.

  • The check accessibility function in Microsoft Office (found in the ‘review’ tab) will inspect your document and highlight things you need to fix.
  • The editor function in Word can help you measure the readability of your copy and help you be clearer and more concise.

Check out this tutorial to learn how to use access the readability tool in Word.

  • Always format text so people know whether it is a heading or not. This makes it much easier for people with screen readers to navigate through your copy.
  • Don’t forget to capitalise hashtags on social media. This makes them easier to read for everyone, but especially people who use screen readers (For example, #socialmediatips is not as easy to read as #SocialMediaTips).

How to make videos accessible

It’s useful to add subtitles for your videos. This will help make your video accessible to those who are D/deaf or hard of hearing as well as a wide range of users with other needs.

YouTube lets you add subtitles as you upload your video. You can also find loads of free apps online that do it for you (although it’s worth reviewing at the end, to ensure accuracy).

If you are unable to subtitle your video, consider having a written copy of the text available, or a summary.

How to make images accessible

Yes, images need to be made accessible too! You can do that by adding Alternative-Text (Alt Text). The purpose of Alt Text is to describe images to people who can’t see them. You can do this on most platforms such as WordPress, Word, and even Excel! You should also add Alt Text to any images you share on social media.

Writing Alt Text might seem tricky – how long should it be? How descriptive? At Youth Music we start by imagining that we are describing a picture over the phone to someone who needs to understand the content. This helps us decide what information the images convey or if they have any function at all. Whichever way you decide to write your Alt Text, make it practical.

Don’t forget Alt Text is also copy. So, ensure you apply the tips outlined above to make it accessible.

There are many Alt Text tutorials out there, here’s a simple best practice guide.

How to make your design accessible

Designed content can make information more appealing for some people. But it can also make it inaccessible. Accessible content doesn’t mean plain content – but there are a few keys rules to keep in mind when designing something.

  • If you chose to use colours, try to use simple and contrasting colours. It’s very hard to read a light colour on a light background. Try to avoid using colours to convey meaning. Use a combination of colours, shapes and text instead!
  • Keep the font size readable.
  • Don’t use overly designed fonts. There are many great fonts out there that are both design-forward and accessible (we like Helvetica and Open Sans). You can even use FS ME – a typeface that was especially developed for learning disabled people with support from Mencap. 

Designing for different needs

It’s important to note that it isn’t possible to remove every barrier that users face. Sometimes, removing barriers for some can create ones for others. We really like these do’s and don’ts infographic posters as they clearly show the different accessibility and design needs different people have.

Questions?

There is much more that can be done to make any content accessible. We have found this to be a continuous learning process but hope this blog can be a good starting point for creating accessible content.  

If you spot anything that doesn’t look right, have suggestions or questions, don’t hesitate to email the Youth Music Access Champions – Jana and Phoebe.

You can find them on: jana.jammal@youthmusic.org.uk, phoebe.cross@youthmusic.org.uk