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How to make your blog accessible for the blind readers

I met a lot of blogger’s in last few years who often keep asking me the same question How to make our blog content accessible? I thought to answer the question over here. Most of the blog platforms out there are accessible but there are few ground rules if followed will make sure that your content is readable by visually challenged readers.

 

  1. Choose accessible blogging      platform
  2. Describe your images
  3. Avoid read more and click      here links
  4. Add widgets on the right hand      side
  5. Use appropriate font
  6. check if all forms have      labels

 

 

  1. Choose accessible blogging      platform

 

Choosing the right platform is the key factor in making your content accessible. I personally prefer wordpress as it is the most accessible platform both at the backend and frontend. I worked with joomla and drupal earlier but don’t prefer them as drupal confused me with its backend and navigational elements of joomla in the backend are not very much accessible.

 

Even people with visual impairment can easily signup at wordpress.com for the first time and can start blogging. So choose wordpress either self hosted or wordpress.com one.

 

Describe your images

 

Most frustrating part for any screen reader user while rereading a blog post is images without alternative text. For example you are explaining a story and put a picture and a scene of the story is understood by looking at the picture, how will a person with visual impairment will understand this? So add appropriate alternative text to all images, wordpress provides this option when you add pictures.

 

 

Tips for better alternative text

 

Keep the text brief.

If there is a graphic with words on it then add a text version of it.

If there is a creative picture then explain the picture, this way you create new content.

Avoid abbreviations.

 

Avoid Click Here and Read more

 

Often I find blog posts containing click here to know more or links that do not provide descriptive text. Avoid this methodology as it may confuse the screen reader user. Best practice is to provide with full text like “click here to download the software” or “read more about this technology”.

 

 

 

 

Add widgets on your right hand side

 

Screen readers read any web page from left to right so it is important for us to avoid adding any widgets that may confuse the user. In wordpress most widgets can be added in the left hand side, right hand side or in the footer area. If you are trying to present something valuable user then break the rule of using left hand side widget and please do mention the same by providing an accessibility policy.

 

Use proper fonts

 

Look and feel of a blog is dependent on the theme used so choose your themes carefully because apart from screen reader users there is a large portion of low vision users. Since browsers like internet explorer and Mozilla can zoom in and zoomout the text, test the font once it is chosen.

 

Check if all forms have labels

 

I often see that search area, comment forms and subscribe to blog forms lack proper labeling. Screen reader users cannot understand how to take action if the forms are not properly labeled.

 

Here is a sample of a text field that has been labeled correctly:

< label for=”email”>E-mail :</label> < input type=”text” name=”email” id=”email” size=”20″>

Note that the ID and LABEL FOR must be equal to the same value.

 

 

All these actions can be full filled easily if you got a blog on wordpress as it is the most accessible CMS platform. In my next post I will take you through a list of plug-ins that can make your wordpress more robust in terms of accessibility.

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day GAAD 2013 in India

As part of Global accessibility awareness day on May 9th there are couple of events that are taking place in India, I want to draw the attention to these events so that product designers, web designers, marketers, developers etc can understand the pain points and create inclusive applications/products.

If you are some one who don’t know what is accessibility or thinking to venture into the field of accessibility these events will help you gain knowledge and help you connect with accessibility practitioners.

Global accessibility awareness day Bangalore GAAD 2013

This event is being held by Centre for Internet and Society. Check more details on the event page at

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2013 at PayPal India

Did you hear that May 9th will be Global Accessibility Awareness Day and a lot of events are being planned across the globe? Do you live in Chennai and want to celebrate? PayPal India Pvt Ltd invites you attend a panel discussion on “Building accessible web” on 9th May 2013 – 13:30 Hrs to 19:00 Hrs. for more information please check the event page at

A free webinar introducing digital accessibility directed at product managers, web developers, web designers, mobile app devs, and software testers organized by Barrier Break & NASSCOM Foundation timed locally for India

A three-day training session in Mumbai for students, diploma holders and graduates of computer science and related fields organized by the govt of Maharashtra and BarrierBreak

If you cannot make to the physical location of the event please do attend the webinar and yes do follow the twitter stream #gaad2013

Resources

About GAAD

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a community-driven effort whose goal is to focus one day to raise the profile of digital (web, software, mobile app/device, touch screen kiosk, etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities.

Follow GAAD on Facebook:

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Buddypress 1.7 makes it possible

If you haven’t heard about buddypress then please head on to buddypress.org and check out what it is…Buddypress is a plug-in that enables any self hosted wordpress blog into a niche social network. From last few months I am playing with this cool new plug-in and really got hooked to it and decided to build Digital Challenger using buddypress because a niche social community gives more power and leverage in the marketing space.

Recently buddypress community announced buddypress 1.7 which is a revolutionary release I have been waiting for this version so as to give my community a great design and features. Here are some of the features of buddypress 1.7 which are my favorite,

Theme compatibility

Awesome and my most loving feature of buddypress 1.7 is theme compatibility….in earlier versions of buddypress we need to use buddypress compatible themes and for a non technical guy like me this was frustrating. Now I am running my buddypress powered sites on Canvas woo themes which my designer added with ease. Everything seems working smoothly as off now and while we are working on the design phase, our community is ready to start its activity.

Group Management

The most frustrating aspect of running a social network is to manage spam and in buddypress I have seen robots creating profiles and groups. While the users are easily managed from the backend, going to each group and deleting them became a huge time consuming task. Now we can manage and delete groups with a click of a button from the backend. This feature helped me to delete more than 10-15 spam groups on digital challenger recently.

While these two features are my favorite there are other improvements and hundred of bug fixes for this release. You can check this article 7 exciting new features in buddypress 1.7 or the following video

Resources

Buddypress 1.7 Release notes page

Buddypress 1.7 theme compatibility information

Buddypress codecs

Buddypress support forum

Buddypress support is a very active community and i recommend to post any questions orproblems you are facing with your buddypress installation.

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How startups and small businesses can get started marketing online

This post cover some basic things that will help any startup or small business to get started marketing online. my goal here is to get a basic web presence yet powerful enough to get leads that can convert into customers

WordPress

If you haven’t heard wordpress.com already then head on to the site and create a account there. wordpress started as blogging software and during the years it became the most robust platform where both individual bloggers and business owners are taking advantage of it. you can create a static website with in few hours, pick a preset theme with a great design and get a face for your business online in a hour.

. It’s free to use, easy to navigate , learn quickly and is feature rich.
. Highly optimized for search engines- with a little tweak to your content by using the right keywords you can be found through search engines.

One of the unique example that i can share for the indian startup community is Sanjukta basu’s business website which is on wordpress.com, Check Samyukta Media

SlideShare

Once we have a website in place with a great content that can convey the message of your product or service the next step is to be found by your customers. To achieve this we will be using slideshare.com and a microsoft office power point presentation, now that you have content about your offerings write all the key points that your customers would like to know about your product or service and then start making a PPT. Needless to say pick a awesome design, use right colour contrasts in fonts , add images if possible and if you are aware of making a presentation it’s a easy task if not check this tutorial . See to that you have only five slides , add email address & phone number at the bottom of each slide and on the final slide see to thatfull contact address, website and a link to most frequently asked questions is added.

Use a great headline that is the title and a nice description when you upload in slideshare.
Give a compelling offer to your slideshare visitors and give a strong call for action. at the end of presentation.
Educate the users, don’t sell your offerings directly.

youtube

Now that we have a website and a basic presentation we will give these two properties little leverage by using the power of video and we are going to use the most famous video sharing platform youtube. you can turn your power point presentation into a video by using Animoto.com. Animoto is a free service that will help your slides and images convert into a video with a background music. if you want a little robust way of conveying your message through video you can use screen recording softwares like camtasia or jing and do voice over for your slides.

An audio description of your slides will provide more trust, uauthority and value to your customers. in video you can explain your offierings more clearly and can connect with them personally. i recommend any one who are trying to establish a strong online presence to use their natural voice for screen capture videos.

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Web Accessibility Resources

Hello,

When I spoke at the Indi SEO conference in Ahmadabad on the topic How Web accessibility and usability can improve your search rankings and conversions, I gave a deeper thought and decided to put a killer list of tools that can help any web master to check their web pages for accessibility issues.

web accessibility resources

Web Accessibility Testing Tools

Wave – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool

Wave is a power full tool provided by Webaim.org, this online tools checks your web page for good and bad points and will provides a detailed web accessibility report.

Wave Firefox Toolbar Plug-in

If you are not interested to run web accessibility testing on online version of the Wave tool, you can use the Firefox plug-in and perform an accessibility check for each of the web page. This is mostly recommended as the online tool cannot perform the testing for password protected pages and dynamically generated pages.

FAE- Functional Accessibility Evaluator

FAE is also an online accessibility evaluator like wave… The Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE) analyzes web pages for markup that is consistent with the use of iCITA HTML Best Practices . This is built and managed by university of Illinois.

FAE – Functional Accessibility Evaluator Mozilla plug-in

FAE has got a Mozilla fire fox plug-in to check the accessibility of web pages that can help you test password protected and dynamically generated pages.

W3c Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools

World Wide Web consortium has a massive list of web accessibility tools. Please check when they are updated last and use with caution as some of them might be out of date.

Fangs Screen Reader Emulator for FireFox

I haven’t used this plug-in so can’t speak much about it now. Will run my own test and will provide my review soon. Here is a bit of description from the plug-in page, Fangs renders a text version of a web page similar to how a screen reader would read it. The ambition is to help developers understand how an assistive device would resent a website and thereby increase chances of finding accessibility issues early.

Color Checkers

I don’t have much experience using these tools as I am visually challenged my self and can’t comment much on the color contrast and visual design.

Color Contrast

Webaim color contrast checker

Check my colors – Color Contrast

Contrast Analyzer

Color Blindness

Color blind web page filter

Vischeck Color Blindness Simulator

Below links will help you find the authoring practices and more in depth knowledge on web accessibility.

Web accessibility and SEO go hand in hand

Web accessibility guidelines 2.0

WAI-ARIA authoring practices

How to add landmarks in your wordpress or web pages

Web Accessibility Blog by Rakesh

If all the following resources are read and implemented accordingly i can assure that you will achieve a mile stone in terms of creating a highly rich site which can bring you more leads and sales. If you come across any resources links and other things which might be interesting to share let me know in comments section and i will see to that it gets added .

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Coming Soon

We know that there are thousands of blogs & content available to teach you how to make money online, so i want to differentiate myself from them & would like to bring a new perspective. While i get the site ready if you are interested to hear from me when the site launches please subscribe to my E-Mail news letter, like my facebook page & start following me on twitter.