It’s a two-for-one for this week’s post. First, I have to thank Micaela for sending me a link to the article that I’m going to suggest to you. The article is not only insightful on its topic, it’s got some examples of accessibility for you to consider.
Make Your Writing More Sensitive
We talk in Content for Everyone about making sure that your writing is easy to read so the widest audience possible can understand it. However, we can go beyond making something understandable to also making sure the writing is sensitive to the reader.
Melissa Haun wrote “How to Make Your Writing More Sensitive—and Why It Matters” for Website Planet, a resource for information about building and marketing a website. As Melissa states, “No matter what you’re writing about, it’s essential to keep your target readers in mind–not just their goals and interests, but also their backgrounds and perspectives. We have to be sensitive to who they are and where they’re coming from, and do our best to avoid offending them.”
I couldn’t agree more. Now, you may not think this plays into content accessibility. However, I think it does if you consider we want to present content that is easy to understand. Part of making it easy is to remove any potential barriers to do it, which can include barriers caused by insensitive writing.
Melissa offers tips on how to write about seven areas that are often covered: race and culture, sexism, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability & ableism, appearance, age and lifestyle, and politics and religion. These are potentially hot-button topics, so to approach them thoughtfully is key.
Each of the areas includes multiples of examples of right and wrong ways to approach content. The article lays out dos and don’ts that are helpful even if you’re well versed in creating sensitive content. The article should be in your bookmarks as a quick reference anytime you think you need a refresher.
The Article’s Accessibility
Anytime I’m on a site that’s new to me, such as Website Planet, I can’t help but look at the accessibility. Some areas need improvement, but there are also some good things worth pointing out.
- Bullet lists: These are great since they help break up content to make it easier to read.
- Headings: The structure for this article is great, breaking down the categories and sub-categories of content. Here’s an example:
- Heading 2 [H2]: Categories & Examples of Sensitive Content
- Heading 3 [H3]: Race & Culture
- Heading 4 [H4]: Examples
And it continues with that for each of the seven categories.
- Sentence length and structure: Overall, the paragraphs feature a mix of sentence lengths and the writing is kept simple.
Areas of Improvement
Images of Text: There are eight images of text in the article. While the text in the images follows color contrast rules and is a readable font, the text in these images will be unperceivable to some. First, the alternative text isn’t meaningful since it doesn’t include all the text in the image. The alternative text only includes the topic of the image, such as “Guidelines for writing about race and culture.”
There are four tips inside the image about writing about race and culture. The text of the article does not explicitly present the tips, so readers might miss them completely. While someone might understand the tips from the examples, it would be better to have the tips be part of the article text.
Links: There is redundant link text within the article. Someone using assistive technology, like a screen reader, might have to spend more time determining if they go to the same or different places.
Bold Text Usage: There is a lot of bold text throughout the article. Some instances seem to be used to call out key phrases and tips. In others, the bold doesn’t seem to carry a distinct purpose and might confuse some readers. Also, for some readers, the bold text can actually be more difficult to read if there is a lot.
Centering Text: All the examples throughout the article are centered. For everyone, this is more difficult to read than left justified, as your eye has to locate the start of each new line. For those with some types of cognitive disabilities, center text can present even more challenges.
I hope you found it helpful to get not only an article recommendation to assist you with your copy creation but also some examples of accessibility. As you continue to learn about accessibility, you’ll likely become like me and see good and bad accessibility points on every site you visit. I’d love to know about what you find on the web. You can always leave your examples in the comments here to help your fellow creatives learn from what you find.