Five Principles for Creating Accessible Digital Content
  • 6-minute read
  • 1st April 2024

Five Principles for Creating Accessible Digital Content

Accessibility improves the user experience of everyone who lands on your business’s website, which can ultimately boost your SEO and put you ahead of the competition. By creating accessible digital content, you ensure that your entire audience, including people with disabilities, can engage and interact with your business.

But how can you check the quality of your content and make sure it’s accessible to everyone? We’ve got the answers. In this post, we’ll take you through the five essential principles of accessibility for digital content, including how to implement:

  1. Proper heading structure
  2. Alt text for images
  3. Color contrast 
  4. Descriptive link text
  5. Accessible video and multimedia content

Keep reading to learn more about creating accessible digital content for your business.

1. Proper Heading Structure

The first way to ensure your text is accessible to a wide audience is to implement a hierarchical heading structure for written content such as blog posts and landing pages. Well-organized, descriptive headings help provide a logical structure to the content, especially for users who rely on screen readers. Use the proper HTML markup to mark headings (rather than just applying a bold or italic font) because screen readers rely on these tags to understand the structure of the content. To make the most out of heading styles, use a combination of main headings (<h2>) and subheadings (<h3>) to break up large chunks of text and make the content easier to skim. 

A clear heading hierarchy also helps people of all cognitive abilities visualize the content, as it helps guide your eyes down the page and toward the most important information. Check that your headings provide a clear and concise summary of the section’s topic or purpose; essentially, they should provide a logical flow. Readers should be able to skim your headings and comprehend the main points of each section of content.

2. Alt Text for Images

Alt text provides a textual alternative for images, allowing screen readers to convey the content to users who are visually impaired. When an image is not displayed or cannot be seen by a user, the alt text is read aloud by the screen reader, providing them with context and understanding of the image’s content or function. 

For effective alt text, write a concise yet descriptive summary of the images included with your content (e.g., a brief description of a picture that accompanies a blog post or product description). For SEO purposes, you can also incorporate main keywords and phrases related to the image content.

3. Color Contrast and Accessibility

Having sufficient color contrast between your website text and its background is essential for accessibility because it improves readability and makes content clearer to users with visual impairments, including those with low vision or color blindness. Color blindness affects a significant portion of the population, making it challenging for affected users to distinguish between certain colors. 


Ensuring sufficient color contrast allows readers to differentiate text from its background (without relying solely on color cues). Some accessibility guidelines and standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, specify minimum color contrast ratios to ensure content accessibility.


Even users without visual impairments can benefit from sufficient color contrast, as it makes the text easier to read and reduces eye strain, particularly in low-light environments or on small screens (such as mobile devices). Here are some tips for ensuring proper color contrast:

  • Use tools to evaluate contrast ratios.
  • Provide alternative formats or presentation options, such as customizable settings or themes.
  • Avoid low-contrast color combinations (such as light text on a light background or dark text on a dark background).
  • Avoid color combinations that are difficult to distinguish (such as red and green or blue and gray).
  • Test your website colors on different devices and in different lighting.

4. Descriptive Link Text

Link text, also known as anchor text, is the clickable text in a hyperlink that users interact with to navigate to a linked webpage or other resource (such as a PDF). Descriptive link text helps users understand the purpose of the link and where it will go without needing to rely solely on the surrounding context. 

Guidelines for creating accessible links include avoiding generic phrases like “click here” or “read more” and using descriptive text that accurately represents the linked content. For example, if a user follows a link with the anchor text “learn about inclusive design principles,” they’ll expect an educational resource on the topic of inclusivity and design.

5. Video and Multimedia Accessibility

When checking the accessibility of your content, be sure to include a review of your video and multimedia content. One way to improve the accessibility of this type of content is to generate comprehensive captions and transcripts for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. Video captions provide written text of spoken dialogue and sound effects, while transcripts offer a textual version of the entire content. 

To ensure you create captions correctly, check that they properly reflect the dialogue and are well-synchronized with the content appearing on screen. Proofreading captions and transcripts for clarity and correctness also helps ensure a smoother user experience (check out our detailed proofreading checklist for pointers).

In Summary

If you prioritize accessibility in your content editing, it boosts your credibility with your customers and demonstrates your commitment to inclusivity

Ensure your digital content reaches as many readers as possible by having it professionally proofread and edited. Our expert editors have experience working with a wide range of organizations – from innovative startups to Fortune 500 companies. Schedule a call with us today to learn more about how we can help improve the accessibility of your content and grow your business.


1. How Does Accessible Digital Content Benefit SEO?

Search engines prioritize user experience, and accessible content enhances usability for all users, including those with disabilities. By implementing accessibility features such as descriptive alt text for images, properly structured headings, and semantic HTML markup, you improve the comprehensibility and relevance of your content to search engines. Additionally, accessible websites are often more mobile-friendly, which can further improve SEO rankings since search engines boost mobile-friendly websites in search results.

2. Can Automated Tools Ensure My Digital Content Is Accessible?

Automated accessibility tools can be helpful in identifying some accessibility issues within digital content, but they are not foolproof. These tools can assist in flagging common accessibility errors such as missing alt text, improper heading structures, or insufficient color contrast. However, they may not catch all accessibility issues, particularly those related to content comprehension or user experience. To make sure your content is as accessible as possible, thoroughly edit it for clarity and readability, and listen to and incorporate customer feedback.

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