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Optimizing for Accessibility + SEO: Site & Page Structure Overlaps

May 18, 2016
Aaron Polmeer

By Laura.Lippay

HTML5 Accessibility Report Score for 5 browsers. Their scores are Safari: 62/100, Chrome: 93/100, Firefox: 89/100, Internet Explorer: 35/100, Edge: 40/100

Posted by Laura.Lippay

[Estimated read time: 9 minutes]

(header image photo by H.L.W. from the Blind Photographers Flickr Group.)

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

39 million people are blind. 285 million are visually impaired. 15% of the world’s population — over a billion people — have some form of disability.

Disabilities can come in many shapes and forms: physical, cognitive, visual, hearing. How does someone who is blind check their email? How does someone who can’t hear decipher any of the tens of millions of videos on YouTube? How do disabled students keep an upper hand when all of their classmates are using the Internet for research?

Many use assistive technologies to help with these tasks. Screen readers are like search engines in that they can’t see the content of a page, and instead rely on signals in the code to navigate the web and understand the content of a page.

In this, and in two follow-up posts, we’ll explore the overlaps between optimizing for search engines and optimizing for screen readers and assistive technologies. But first, let’s get a better understanding of what screen readers are all about.

In the video below, Kyle Woodruff navigates the web without his sight, quadriplegic web user Gordon Richins navigates the web without his hands, and Curtis Radford navigates the web without his hearing. You’ll see that they still face challenges because of the gaps between what assistive technology (AT) can do and what is actually built in a way that can be accessed and navigated by assistive technologies.

Because he’s so entertaining (even has his own Amazon series), I also must introduce you to Tommy Edison, The Blind Film Critic. See how he’s easily using Twitter and YouTube with the assistive technologies built into the iPhone.

Give it a shot

Here’s a simple way to try something like this out for yourself right now:

  1. Open a Chrome browser
  2. Install the screen reader extension ChromeVox and enable it.
  3. For a better experience, utilize some of this ChromeVox help:
    1. ChromeVox tutorial (quick, easy, and highly recommended)
    2. ChromeVox shortcuts reference (print it and tape it to your monitor (if you’re sighted)).
  4. Go for it. Navigate.

Optionally, you can also enable these more complex free screen readers on your device:

  1. VoiceOver on Mac OSX, iOS. User Guide. Shortcuts.
  2. NVDA free screen reader for Windows machines. User guide. Shortcuts.

Try any of these on your own website. How painful is it?

Do something about it

Consider going beyond simply being aware of accessibility (A11y) for Global Accessibility Awareness Day by utilizing some of your technical code optimization chops to help millions of disabled fellow humans have a better experience on the web.

Let’s be very clear though: learning web accessibility is no small task. This is a complex industry where assistive technologies go beyond just optimizing a bit of web code for screen readers.

But here’s where it’s simple for you …read more

Source:: Moz Blog