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The Main Principles of Accessible Web Content Part 3: Understandable Accessibility

February 24, 2022

We’re exploring the principles of accessibility in our ongoing series, dissecting each theme with real-world examples to demonstrate each one. 

We’ve covered the first two principles—perceived accessibility and operable accessibility—and will cover the third principle, understandable accessibility, in this post. 

What is Understandable Accessibility?

As the WebAIM guide on the principles of accessibility states, the principle describing understandable accessibility focuses on usability of the digital experience, meaning how the experience meets the audiences’ needs. Two ways to do this include using language and alternative or supplementary ways to describe that content. 

Understandable Language

When creating understandable content, thinking about the audience you are addressing is a good way to determine if the language will meet them where they are. For instance, if your audience is children, your sentences should be easier to understand and use simpler words compared to content for an adult audience. 

A good way to begin creating understandable content is to start simple and later move into more complex terminology. If definitions are needed for more advanced content, adding those in will help. 

This approach is also helpful for SEO since people are more likely to search for content using simpler terms, and if that content is farther up in the page, it is more likely to show up on search engines. 

Supplementary or Alternative Content

In order to create understandable content, alternative methods of consuming content can help. For example, if you have a how-to article with steps for making a sandwich, visual representation that demonstrates making a sandwich may help understandability. 

People learn information in various ways, so something like an illustration, video, graphic, or chart could be useful for reducing barriers. Users in your target audience may have reading or cognitive disabilities, so finding new ways to give them the same information can help. 

Other Ways to Bake in Understandable Accessibility

While creating content with accessible language and alternative ways to communicate the content is useful, creating accessible content also addresses using the site in accessible ways. Lowering barriers such as creating a simple navigation, fewer steps to complete forms, and easily accessible links are good steps to take in order for interactive content to also be easy to understand.

Sharing Understandable Content on an Agency Website

Our blog post UX Design Principles for Component-Based System demonstrates understandable accessibility with content that explains component-based design and also adds in a helpful graphic explaining aspect ratio. For the layperson, aspect ratio may not be a concept they understand, but between the content and accompanying graphic, they can better understand how this idea is important when designing a website using a component-based system.

Learn How Mediacurrent Supports Accessibility

Creating understandable content goes beyond the words on a page or the graphics created to support the messaging. Accessibility affects everyone, and understandable content helps everyone. Learn about our accessibility team and how we can help you apply the principles of accessibility to your content.

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