Four easy ways to make your content more accessible

In honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, take a few minutes to learn how to make your content more accessible with these easy tips.

Portrait of Asian blind person woman in wireless earphones using smart phone with voice accessibility technology for persons with disabilities in office workplace.
Portrait of Asian blind person woman in wireless earphones using smart phone with voice accessibility technology for persons with disabilities in office workplace.

Picture your favorite emoji or the last photo you posted on social media. Those thoughts conjure images, but for some, casual emoji use or an embedded picture results in a different experience. 

Welcome to the life of someone who relies on screen readers to navigate the digital world.

Screen readers help users that are blind, low-vision, or have reading disabilities experience digital content by speaking the content aloud to them. But when they come to an image, emoji, or meme, screen readers read the file name instead of describing the image. All too often the file name is a random string of digits or a nonsense phrase, which results in a poor experience for the user.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. In fact, there are a variety of practices that anyone can begin using right away to improve the experience of people who are blind, deaf, low vision, or color blind.

Here are four accessibility best practices so we can all do our part in increasing accessibility for everyone – which helps build a feeling of belonging.

Write meaningful alternative (alt) text

One of the most common accessibility errors on the web is the lack of image alt text.

Alt text is a short description of an image for people who use screen readers or other assistive technology, or who have slow internet access. Before posting an image, take the intentional step of adding a description of the image. Doing this makes images and their intent understandable to a wider audience.

Think of alt text this way: If an image failed to load and you couldn’t see it, what text would make sense in its place? What does that image represent? What is its specific purpose for being there?

Alt text should be clear and concise so readers can visualize the content without seeing it. For example, alt text that says “Teenage boy wearing a red t-shirt and jeans looks at job ads on a laptop” conveys more purpose and emotion than “Boy sitting at computer.”

We’re all responsible for adding alt text to images, icons, and other visual media, whether it’s in a document, social media post, emails, or website. You don’t have to be an engineer or a designer to do this. All you have to do is make any image that you share accessible.

If an image is purely decorative, you don’t need alt text. Just define the image as decorative for developers, who will leave the alt attribute empty (alt=“”). A screen reader will skip the blank tag. 

Accessible content design

Intuit’s content design website is a great resource for best practices to ensure our products and experiences are accessible to all.

The site describes four principles that underpin Intuit’s accessibility guidelines. They spell out the acronym POUR—Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust.

  • Perceivable. If there’s anything in our product or on our site that a blind, deaf, low-vision, or color-blind person can’t perceive, do what you can to remedy it. For example, make sure videos have captions, and create text alternatives for charts and graphs. Don’t refer to color, or where elements are located on a screen. And if text is meant to be read, don’t put it in an image.
  • Operable. Make sure interactions and targets are well separated and easy to hit, and don’t make screens overly dense. 
  • Understandable. Make content readable and easy to listen to. Remember that when someone is using a screen reader, the content is spoken aloud. Aim for 5th to 8th grade readability to keep sentences simple. And use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to make content easy to scan.
  • Robust. Make sure things work well across platforms, browsers, and devices.

Be careful with color and contrast

Color-blind and low-vision users need lots of contrast between background and text. Some people use screen magnifiers, and others prefer to zoom or enlarge text to make it easier to read.

When creating slides or other visuals, check your contrast. Is there enough contrast between foreground text and background color? Make sure linked text stands out from body text and include icons with text for clarity.

Typically, an accessible color palette begins by selecting a color, checking its contrast against a background, and then modifying the value to meet contrast ratios. 

Accessibility in a hybrid world

For remote workers, video meetings present their own set of accessibility challenges.

For example, imagine being hearing impaired and trying to lip-read in a video meeting where multiple participants are talking at once or have their cameras turned off. 

You can also be part of the solution. Be prepared to help a hearing-impaired colleague by using a whiteboard solution to explain or clarify content in a meeting, or by offering to provide clarification and fill in gaps via chat.

Interested in learning more? Check out our blog, 3 ways Intuit helped me make my word accessible to find out how one Intuit software engineer solved communication speed bumps in hybrid settings.

When it comes to accessibility, the bottom line is this: All our users need to be able to process what’s on the screen.

Don’t assume it’s someone else’s job to make content more accessible. Don’t assume it’s a designer’s job or an engineer’s job. It’s up to each and every one of us to be part of the change to build a more inclusive world.


Our team of contributors loves to uncover inspiring stories and share helpful tips to help power your prosperity.