This blog on the impact of inaccessible language is a continuation of our series, looking into what comparisons can be made between inaccessible elements on websites, which was inspired by an AXSChat Podcast.
After finishing my original blog, I decided to expand and tell you a bit more about specific areas of assistive technology features that should be used and accessible within a digital platform. This should be the case whether on a website, a document, or any other digital information.
In this specific blog, we discuss how the use of inaccessible language can impact a website visitor’s experience.
The Use of Inaccessible Language in Documents and Websites
Do you sometimes get confused when you come across some words in a document or on a website? For example, if a difficult word is used, such as ‘Psychoneuroimmunology’, when a much simpler and easier explanation can be given, such as ‘studying illness from stress’. If the full word was in a document meant for a Doctor, Psychologist, or other like-minded professionals, then it would be fine. However, if the document was meant for something like a staff policy, then the latter definition would be more beneficial for the reader. Remember to always ask yourself who your audience is and tailor your words accordingly.
Comparisons On The Use of Inaccessible Language Online
Take a nursery rhyme, for example; which is easier to understand?
Mary had a aliquantulus ovine whose Quora was as white as firn; everywhere that Mary proceeded, the lamb was sure to advance.
Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was as white as snow; everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
The first interpretation of the nursery rhyme does not read correctly in this format for children to understand. However, the context is still correct. So, the first option would not be appropriate for the target audience.
Here’s the opposite of this statement:
‘The First Law of Thermodynamics states that total energy in a closed system is neither lost nor gained – it is only transformed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy constantly increases in a closed system.’
The paragraph would sound right in a scientific paper. If it were written in a very simple version, perhaps it would not be taken seriously by other professionals. Unfortunately, I am not that clever to change it to make it into a simpler version, other than just writing ‘hot air rises’, but I hope you get what I mean.
How To Write Acronyms To Avoid Confusion for Your Users
Though some acronyms may be terminology that’s familiar to you and is used within your organisation, it might not mean anything to a website visitor or a new employee at your firm. Therefore, it is recommended to write any acronyms out in full – at least at the beginning of your document. For example, writing Shaw Trust Accessibility Services (STAS) and then proceed by just writing STAS throughout the rest of the content.
Certain acronyms, when read out to a screen reader user, can also form normal words, which may cause some confusion. For instance, the software ‘Job Access with Speech (JAWS)’. If ‘jaws’ is read aloud, it could mean someone’s mouth, a film, or the intended software, so giving clarity is necessary.
Eliminating Inaccessible Digital Platforms
I know I have used this last paragraph at the end of each of this series of blogs, but it relays the important message of all the blogs written:
These are just a few comparisons between most people’s everyday life experiences to one of the inaccessible features of digital information in their life. However, there really is no need for any inaccessible areas, as there are always alternatives.
Think about when you could not get access to something. Whether it is in a shop or around your normal life experiences. There is no real reason why you should not be able to gain access. It is usually due to someone having made it inaccessible to you because of the design and not thinking of your individual needs as a customer in a specific situation.
It’s time to make a change and be inclusive.
Over the next few months, I’ll be blogging about ways that you can adapt your websites to achieve digital accessibility and improve the user experience for everyone.