Today’s the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week (I’m sad it’s almost over!), and today’s prompt is:
The world of blogging is continually changing. Share 3 things you are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.
All of these things are going to overlap in my response because I want to talk about making my (and hopefully your) blog more accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. One of the things I love most about the book blogging world is the sense of community. And we want everyone in our community to feel welcome, right?
There are a few things I always try to do to make my blog accessible to people. I have a review directory…and I actually update it. At the end of the week (or two weeks–max), I’ll set aside some time to add my new reviews to the directory. It makes it easier on me so that I don’t get swamped with work later down the line, and it makes it easy for visitors to locate things. Whenever I change my layout (which isn’t terribly often), the main things I keep in mind are font size and color: if the font is too small or it’s going to hurt my eyes (i.e., colored font on top of a dark background, etc.), I steer clear of it.
But there are other things to consider as well: I’m sure we’ve all come across a website with a lot of large images and flashing content that’s locked up our browser. Flashing images are minor annoyances to most people, but did you know they can put people prone to seizures at risk? I don’t feature ads on my blog (although I know WordPress displays ads to non-Wordpress users), but if I did, there’s no way I would allow flashing ads. Ever.
There are also things that most people don’t give a second thought to that people with disabilities rely on. Showing a video? Adding a transcript of the video is a huge help to people who are hearing impaired. Meanwhile, people who rely on text-to-speech software can benefit greatly from proper alternate text descriptions on images you have on your blog. This is what my screen looked like when I was adding an image of the Wildwood book cover to a blog post:
Alternate text doesn’t have to be flowery and complicated (in fact, the more straightforward the better). It just needs to be functional.
Finally, there are two really great resources you can use to evaluate your website: WAVE and Vischeck.
With WAVE, you type in your blog’s url address and are able to instantly view how many basic accessibility issues you have and where they are. Your blog will appear on screen with green, yellow, and red flags all over the place that point out what you’re doing right and what you need to work on. You may not agree with everything or be able to fix every problem (particularly if you have no way to modify CSS on your blog), but there are probably several things you can fix on your blog. And it’s free, so you have no excuses not to have at least the basics covered!
Vischeck works on the same principal: you can type your url into the site and it will simulate how your blog looks to people who have different types of colorblindness. This comes in handy if you use a lot of colored text or have a colored background; certain color combinations might be making your blog very hard for some people to see.
I’m by no means perfect when it comes to remembering all of these things all the time, but I’m working on it. Periodically plugging my url into these sites goes a long way. So much of this stuff is really easy and basic; it’s just a matter of developing the habit. Most people probably don’t think twice about things like alternate text in images or transcripts for book trailers, but these small things can make a world of difference to some of your readers.