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Episode 109: Navigating Web Accessibility 101 With Bethany Smith

Blog Title: Food Blog Usability

Social Media:

Bethany on Instagram

Bethany on Facebook

About: Bethany Smith helps you become a more confident food blogger. She offers understandable, thorough & well-researched resources, audits, and coaching. You deserve to be confident in your blogging decisions as you work to grow and maintain an engaged, loyal audience. Follow her on Instagram or check out her website for more.

Notes from Episode #109:

  • Fun fact: Bethany had an irritable uterus during her second pregnancy which caused constant contractions while moving around, walking about. It felt like constant pressure and so her mobility was limited and so she had a temporary disability to learn from. 
  • Background of web accessibility –
    • It’s been around since the beginning of the internet. 
    • It’s a major category we need to pay attention to
    • Everyone should have access to what’s on the web
  • People didn’t take this aspect of website usability seriously as they should have in the past but now it’s in the forefront of our mind. 
  • Anywhere the public is invited to there should be accessibility to others of all backgrounds and abilities. 
  • 20% of people have some sort of disability
    • Vision, physical, hearing
    • Trouble reading or using a mouse, etc
  • Don’t improve web accessibility on your blog because you might get sued but work on it because there are real people who need access. 
  • If you don’t monetize your site, should you do it? 
    • This isn’t the baseline for why you should make your site accessible. You should genuinely want to make sure that anyone in the public that you’re inviting to your site can access it.
  • Some court cases are frivolous but some have made a change.
    • Dominos was sued and the case went to the Supreme Court where the court decided to leave the ruling stand from a lower court. Dominos had a physical location so they needed to make their website accessible too.
  • Food bloggers need to know the standards they need to use online. There’s a public case that a food blogger is going through and is going to court and will try to get a ruling rather than just trying to settle to help the food blogging industry in this issue.
  • The things that Bethany is going to share that you can do to make your own site accessible, you’ll be close to providing help by the time a court makes a ruling. 
    • Blogs
    • Videos
    • Social Media
  • Blogs
    • Web content accessibility guidelines can be read by anyone. The people who wrote them also made Standardized HTML and Javascript readable to the people who need to use it outside developers. .
    • Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust (POUR)
    • Link labels should be clear on your blog – instead of saying “click here” the label should be exactly what you want them to click towards so it’s understood. Maybe the “Actual name of a recipe” or a “Downloadable meal plan”. If someone is using a screen reader this is important. 
    • Colors in general should have higher contrast. There is a set standard and number and she’ll provide a link in the show notes on how to know what to use.
      • 3 standards are A, AA and AAA. You want to shoot for AA. 
    • Fonts – the size of a font and the thickness of a font are important to consider, especially for your site pulling up on mobile to read pages on the internet. 
    • Step back and look at your own website and see what sticks out as good and what could be seen as an issue for your audience. 
    • Be careful that your recipe cards are readable. If your background color is gray, it might be difficult to read the font. 
    • Bethany’s interpretation of the guidelines that are already available to us, is that a “Jump To Recipe” button is important to have at the top of a post. This allows your audience to bypass things they aren’t needing to tab through until they reach the recipe card if they use web accessibility tools.
    • Remember to use shorter sentences and simpler language to be helpful too.
    • Alt tags – if an image is considered a display image, (not used a lot in the food blog world) but if its an icon (picture) or a stock image, you need a blank alt text if it’s not relevant to the recipe. 
    • Alt-text is not for SEO purposes or Pinterest.
    • If you find that you are needing to say the same thing about multiple pictures in your alt text, then stop using the same image repetitively. You have too many of the same things on a page is what it tells us. 
    • Maybe we’re not solving the right problem by using so many photographs of our recipe
    • You don’t need to use a lot of words to describe your alt-text, there are no minimum requirements.
    • Infographics – you don’t want your alt-text to be the same as your graphic – so summarize in your blog post or have a separate text file that you could link in the caption about what’s on the image. “Text file of this infographic here” could be used generically. TIP: If you had a separate page for this information, then Google could find it too. 
    • Adaptive technologies are being used so we want to be helpful to them when they visit our sites. 
    • Questions to ask yourself: If someone can’t see, can they still get this information? If someone can’t hear, can they still get this information? 
    • Developers then have to think through how are they going to make these things accessible to someone who has a site?
    • You don’t need to pick either/or for SEO and UX.
    • Headings tags that are clear and descriptive are helpful to SEO and important for UX. Think of a Heading as an outline and not related to SEO and it’ll help you more as you navigate through updating web accessibility. 
    • If you have a quote, don’t save it as an image. Put the quote in text and include it in your blog post. 
    • Logos can be saved as an image but should have an alt text related to that too. 
  • Video
    • Think of your user as blind or deaf and tailor your site to that. Closed captioning and transcripts should be offered. 
      • A higher level of accessibility might be that the transcript is linked to the portion of the video where that description is taking place. Not all people will offer that level of accessibility however. 
    • Whatever media player you use to make your video will give you tools to provide these accessibility options.
    • If anything auto plays, you need to provide a way to pause or stop it. Your ad network can also be a tool to help you with these options. 
    • The more disruptive something is, the more response you get from it. That’s why ads might not be around forever and more guidelines will be forthcoming. 
    • Closed Captioning – you can do it upfront to video, but retroactively for videos shared, you can visit for help including it.
    • If you add captions on, make sure you edit the ones provided so you avoid poor language or grammar issues. 
    • Hands and Pans videos with music – the cc should say “upbeat music” and provide simple transcription of what’s being done to add to the videos in a text format. This could be called a “shot list”. It doesn’t have to be super descriptive. 
  • Google provided more information on guided recipes and so there’s a lot that’s being shared with how to improve our sites and sharing with our audience that have a disability. 
  • Implementing these things will help audiences get less frustrated with a food blog as it considers the people using it. 
  • Social media
    • Alt text can be done on IG and FB images. You can post your image and before it’s saved, you can add it there to help it be more findable. 
    • IG: Adding alt text to a photo before you post an image should be done when you’re about to write copy. At the very bottom of the page it says “advanced settings”, tap that and there’s an area for accessibility. 
    • Stories within FB or IG – you need captioning. There are apps you can use to get that added or a simple way would be to add a brief summary of what the Story is about. It won’t be a true transcript but it’s helpful.
  • It’s not just about you creating content, it’s about the tools you’re using, the people you work with and making sure everyone is on board to work towards your stated goals.
  • Give yourself a timeline to meet these goals of making your site UX friendlier by adding these accessibility additions. You can post it on your site as a promise to your audience too and help hold you accountable. It’s good for a better UX all around.
  • Once you start adding this into your daily process, it’ll be easier than you think and not be a big burden like you’re imagining.

Helpful references from the episode:


Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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