A Compliance Requirement
Generally, and for good reason, the main concerns of any publisher are generating quality content and attracting paying subscribers to that content.
Unfortunately, there are always other issues that arise. If you’re lucky, they can dealt with relative ease, but rarely can they be ignored.
Accessibility is one of those issues.
Accessibility In A Nutshell
Given that it’s a legal issue, this post shouldn’t be your only source of information on this topic. But we can give you the basic facts.
The Americans With Disabilities Act is the law that promotes free and equal access to public spaces for people with disabilities. In the digital era, the internet has been designated as one of those public spaces.
Which means your website needs to be compliant with a host of functional and technical accessibility requirements. (Things like text size and spacing, navigation alternatives, alt text, screen reader scanning, and more.)
Currently, the actual application of the law is a grey area. It’s a very difficult law to enforce. A private lawsuit, targeting a specific corporation, is the most likely vehicle for punitive action.
Still, the likelihood of not getting caught isn’t an excuse for noncompliance and, once that first demand letter arrives, you’ll likely wish you had just made your site compliant in the first place.
Especially since it doesn’t have to be difficult.
With WordPress, making your site accessible is, essentially, just a two-step process.
Lay The Right Foundation
The first step to to choose the correct theme as your website foundation. You want a clean, simple theme.
The fewer fancy functions that are coded into your theme itself, the cleaner the transition for screen readers and other accessibility options.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have fancy functions, of course. But you should get your slideshows and interactive content and functions through plugins and add-ons. Keep them out of your theme code.
There are a few ways to find the right theme.
You can look at the repository of WordPress themes and pick out a simple theme. Get one highly-rated but with few built-in bells and whistles.
Alternatively, you can work with a developer to build a custom design. The odds are good that your developer will have some thoughts and experience on accessibility as well. The downside with this option is, of course, that costs will be higher when building from scratch.
The ideal option, of course, is to work with someone who has already built a site template that meets most of your criteria and only needs to tweak it a little for your use.
However you manage it, building your site correctly from the ground-up is the absolute best way to ensure accessibility.
Fill In The Gaps
Once you’ve got the bones right, you can fill in any gaps with an accessibility app. A number of these tools are out there and the good ones will provide options to make your site easier to access for a number of different disabilities.
These widgets or overlays can adjust your text for better readability, pause animations for easier scanning, and provide options without altering your entire website aesthetic.
In fact, you can have a rich, dynamic, multimedia site experience without violating the ADA’s requirement.
Have Everything You Want
A great example is Fisherman Magazine.
We’ve talked about Fisherman with its multiple editions and supplements and the valuable content its contributors pay to have published.
If you’ve visited the site, you’ll find videos and photos galore. It has sign-up sheets and the occasional pop-up to guide readers to optimal subscription options.
Fisherman also has a high accessibility score.
Between its underlying architecture and its Userway accessibility app, Fisherman Magazine has achieved compliance without sacrificing any of the features or functions it needs.
You can, too.
Want to talk more about accessibility options for your publication? Let’s chat.