Building accessibility into your digital content strategy

Global connectivity makes it possible to attract a broader range of new customers and brand partners from across the world. Prospective clients and employees expect to be able to learn who you are, from the device they prefer, in a few minutes. If they can’t, they are likely to just move on to your competitors.


Roughly 22% of the population has a permanent or temporary disability. Providing these individuals with equal opportunity to find information online means meeting a range of web accessibility needs. Beyond reaching millions more people who can potentially drive new business opportunities or add to your talent pool, this goal is vital to building an inclusive society.

Understanding web accessibility requirements today

More than 15 countries and regions have developed government policies based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These recommendations help organizations meet the accessibility needs of people with visual, hearing, dexterity, language or speech, and cognitive impairments. Here in Ontario, Canada, where Rise is based, the Act for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA) requires businesses to meet the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard—which ensures that most of the population experiences the full impact of online content. Failing to comply can result in a fine.



Challenges brands face today

Many organizations are discovering that bringing all content up to Level AA isn’t as simple as it sounds. Replacing or updating pages or documents hosted on your website alone can be a huge undertaking. It’s also easy to fall behind evolving digital accessibility recommendations if you aren’t paying attention. Currently, public feedback is being collected for the working draft of WCAG 3.0—which intends to incorporate mobile and wearable device usage, the Internet of Things (IoT), and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) into its guidelines.

So how do you go about keeping accessibility best practices central to your brand’s presence?

Start with internal communications

How accessible you are to your own team sets the bar for how effectively you’re able to engage external audiences. Take an inventory of any barriers to understanding content used for your recruitment and onboarding processes. For example, let’s say your brand provides healthcare technology products and services. To learn about complex medical industry topics, your new hires are required to complete a series of training videos. Accommodating your entire staff means developing videos that offer descriptions of visual information, well-paced narration, and closed captions translated into all official languages employees use

Rethink content development and publishing processes

Keeping accessibility top of mind in every aspect of your content strategy ensures that users with disabilities don’t feel like an afterthought. Connecting brand guardians with accessibility experts enables your team to resolve concerns related to each type of asset you will create—and add these best practices to your brand playbook. When possible, create work from scratch to avoid re-introducing compliance issues from legacy documents. Depending on how much legacy content you need to update, consider using software to update metadata en masse, making it easier for any user to navigate the website, and improving your SEO results.

Combine human and machine-based compliance checking

Numerous free online tools, including Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Checker, HTML Tidy, CommonLook Office, and Colour Contrast Analyser check individual accessibility requirements. Some software platforms monitor for a broad range of compliance issues and provide suggestions in real time. However, it’s crucial that people familiar with commonly overlooked digital accessibility issues review your content as well. The AODA and other consultative services offer comprehensive audits and on-site training to help brands meet WCAG’s Level AA or Level AAA—the highest possible standard.

Establish best practices for creating branded materials

Consider how to overcome potential obstacles to understanding your content while working within your brand guidelines. For example, avoid using complicated abbreviations, mathematical symbols, words from different languages, or long footnotes, as audiences using text-to-speech tools may not be able to interpret their meaning. Develop a clear information hierarchy in your document, write concise paragraphs, select a WCAG-approved font family and size, and remove jargon-heavy language before publishing.


As you create assets such as infographics and sales presentations, ensure design layouts are clean, easy-to-read, and space lines and columns sufficiently. Accommodate low vision readers by combining colours that contrast strongly with one another—such as bright coloured text on a white background. Avoid combinations like red and green, which can be difficult for colour blind viewers to differentiate. Clear and simple alt-text for graphics, links, and figures helps all users get the full impact of a document.


Prioritizing accessibility to your brand online is essential to growing your business. By taking a methodical, forward-thinking mindset to ensuring your content meets current and future compliance standards, you stand to engage countless new customers and brand partners while championing inclusivity as central to society.

Ready to make accessibility a key part of your content strategy?

Get in touch with us.