Is your blog functionally inclusive? Improve Website Content. We started digging through the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities.\u00a0The first topics we\u2019re working on are the elements important to screen readers \u2013 the text-to-speech software that gives voice to your text, images, buttons, etc.\u00a0Given the increasing use of voice technology \u2013 Apple\u2019s Siri, Amazon\u2019s Alexa, Google\u2019s voice search, etc. \u2013 adapting your content for screen readers is a smart step. It helps those with visual impairments and anyone in your audience who uses voice technologies.Make it easy to readA technique that improves readability for your audience also works well for screen readers: Use shorter sentences and bullet points.Ann Smarty recommends using TextOptimizer to check your content and to suggest improvements in terms of readability, including choice of word, sentence and paragraph length, diversity \u2013 yet clarity \u2013 of vocabulary.Avoid abbreviations and spelling mistakesProofreading is important no matter who \u2013 or what \u2013 will read your content. But accurate spelling and grammar are especially important for screen readers.\u00a0 Misspellings can cause screen readers to mispronounce a word.You also should take steps to avoid screen readers pronouncing acronyms as words \u2013 think \u201cmlah\u201d for MLA, the abbreviation for Modern Language Association. Among the better options: Eliminate abbreviations, use periods between the letters (M.L.A.) or spell out the words at first mention followed by its acronym (Modern Language Association [MLA]).Use headings instead of bold typeUse proper headings to indicate new sections or categories instead of relying on bold typefaces. Consistently using H2 and H3 headers gives assistive technologies and all readers a sense of the page\u2019s organization and structure. \u201cMaintaining proper hierarchy also helps communicate how those subheadings relate to each other. That said, don\u2019t start your article with an H3 subheading followed by an H2 subheading,\u201d writes Ann Smarty. (To learn more, check out her article, How to Structure Your Content to Make it Accessible.)Wait for emojisIf you use emojis in your copy, put them at the end of a sentence. Putting them in the middle messes up the speech interpretation and decreases the readability of your content, as Alexa Heinrich illustrates in this example:Make the case for hashtagsPascalCase and camelCase are the love language for screen readers. They make it easier to properly read hashtags. With PascalCase, the first letter of every word is uppercase. With camelCase, the first letter of the first word is lowercase, while the first letter of every subsequent word is uppercase.The hashtag in the screenshot below is an example of PascalCase:Don\u2019t \u2018click here\u2019Linked text must make sense independent of the surrounding sentences. Instead of saying \u201cclick here,\u201d use descriptive copy such as \u201cCheck out this post on topic A.\u201d Site visitors will know what they\u2019re going to see if they click the link.TIP: Descriptive links make it easier for search engines to find your content.Forgo new windowsWhen you include a link in your text, allow it to open in the existing window to minimize confusion and avoid a reset of the back button. If you have an overriding reason to want links to open in new windows, provide a warning. Visitors can then decide if they want to leave the current window and, if they do open it, they can find their way back to the original window.Rethink embedded text in imagesScreen readers cannot read the text printed on an image. Only embed important text in an image if you have created explanatory alt text or captions for it.Make infographics and charts workIf you create an infographic or chart, include a detailed text explanation of the data or information provided in the image.Directly label your data instead of using only color-coded legends to reduce the cognitive burden on users. That technique also decreases the human reader\u2019s need to scan back and forth to match the legend with the data. The chart below shows the label next to the line for each region (US, Europe, UK, and Asia Pacific) instead of relying on a color-coded legend.Get to the point in alt textBe descriptive \u2013 not poetic \u2013 with your alt text. Don\u2019t include unhelpful keywords. Instead, describe the image in a sentence or two. In a recent CMI Twitter Chat, Alexa Heinrich tweeted, \u201cMost screen readers cut off alt text descriptions after 120 or 125 characters, so avoid posting images or graphics that feature an excessive amount of copy if you can\u2019t write effective image descriptions for them.\u201dTwitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn all allow for custom alt text to be added to images. To learn more about writing alt text descriptions, check out Alexa\u2019s helpful article The Art of Alt Text.Describe functional imagesWebsites use images for functional purposes as well as for illustration. Images used as links (including buttons) should include a text alternative to describe its functionality. For example, the alt text for a blue oval with the word \u201csubmit\u201d could be \u201ca button to submit a form.\u201dFill out form detailsUse a symbol such as an asterisk to indicate a required field on a form. Showing the asterisk at the beginning in a different color makes it a bit easier to identify the required fields. On forms you\u2019re asking a reader to complete, add \u201crequired\u201d into the coding so screen readers can say \u201crequired.\u201dDelete non-required fields or at least label them \u201coptional.\u201dThis article offers detailed advice on how to create forms that meet WCAG 2.0. standards: Identifying a Required Field With the Aria-Required Property.Bonus section: Think colorColor may not affect how screen readers interpret your copy. But color can affect readability for people with visual impairments. You don\u2019t need to reconsider your brand\u2019s color palette entirely, but you should rethink how it\u2019s incorporated functionally on your site.For example, colorblind visitors may not perceive color cues. CMI uses orange to indicate hyperlinks within the text. Melissa pointed out that this color doesn\u2019t meet accessibility standards.The goal is to make links stand out clearly from body text. Blue works well with dark copy, and underlining links makes them even easier to see. (We\u2019re working on implementing these improvements across our site.)To choose a more functional color palette, read David Nichols\u2019 article, Coloring for Colorblindness, or this article in\u00a0Nature.Some readers have difficulty reading text when there isn\u2019t enough contrast between the foreground and background. You can test the contrast of your color scheme with WebAIM\u2019s Contrast Checker. Another helpful tool to check color contrast accessibility is a11y. This color contrast accessibility validator shows the color contrast issues of a web page or chosen color pair.You also should pay attention to the contrast ratio for text and images of text. It should be 4.5 to 1 except for large-scale text (at least 3 to 1), incidental text that is decoration or part of a picture (no contrast requirement), and text that is part of a logo or brand name (no contrast requirement). Wouldn\u2019t you want your logo or brand to be instantly readable by as many people as possible?Ensure that your fonts work well together using a tool such as FontPair, which identifies popular Google fonts that pair well.We have to do betterIncorporating accessibility into your content marketing strategy is not only a smart legal decision, it gives everyone the opportunity to engage with your brand. We \u2013 meaning CMI and the content marketing industry \u2013 have to do more to ensure that our content is accessible to everyone.We\u2019ve started by focusing on screen readers and design for people with visual impairments. But we\u2019re not stopping there. I\u2019ll continue to educate myself and work toward a more inclusive CMI blog.What did I miss? Please feel free to share what you are doing to make sure your content is all inclusive.