Writing Accessible Content For Your Healthcare Website: What You Need To Know

Practis Blog

Writing accessible content for your healthcare website not only helps your patients who may have a disability but all your users, whether human or bot. Writing blog articles, landing pages, banner messaging, or service line pages that are accessible helps your site reach a much larger audience. Here are a few tips on things you can do to ensure your content connects with all your visitors.

Keep content simple and to the point

Whenever possible, use simple, clear (plain) language. When content requires a reading ability higher than an 8th grade level, you may lose your reader’s attention. Complex writing isn’t always needed and long, text-heavy paragraphs might deliver a poor user experience, limiting engagement.

Health conditions such as dyslexia, poor vision, and short-term memory may affect how users engage with and comprehend your content.

If you need to use complex terms, be sure to clearly define those terms by adding a glossary. Search engines also like to see glossaries.

Make web content scannable

Most users will scan content looking for its key points. If they’re not able to quickly find the information they’re looking for, they probably won’t go any further.

That’s also true for a person with a disability using assistive technologies such as a screen reader to navigate the web. Using HTML elements such as headings, bulleted lists, and links will allow people who utilize a screen reader to tab through headers and any clickable links.

Those same scannable elements can also be helpful for search engines who are scanning your site for indexing in search results.

A few ways to make your content more scannable are:

  • Use of ordered (numbered) and unordered (bulleted) lists to break up longer content. Don’t forget to use the correct type of list with proper HTML. Indented text doesn’t cut it here.
  • Use descriptive headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to organize topics. Headings also help assistive tools work properly, are useful for breaking up content into sub-categories, and improve your site’s SEO.
  • Use headings in order, starting with an H1. For example, using an H2 tag immediately after an H1.
  • Keep your layout consistent. Layout provides a visual queue to users on how your content is structured throughout the site. Your content shouldn’t deviate too much from the established layout. Remember, it’s all about consistency.
  • Provide visitors with different options to understand your content. Some users may connect better with images, illustrations, or video as this media provides further clarification when text alone doesn’t. Don’t forget to adequately describe these items with descriptive alt text, transcripts, and video captions.

Make link text more meaningful

Refrain from using “click here” or “learn more”. Hyperlinks and buttons should make sense when read on their own. Instead, try using the name of the page. Specifically, links:

  • shouldn’t be too short
  • shouldn’t be overly long
  • can use site or page names
  • should be descriptive of what you’re linking to

Review, test and adjust content

Before publishing your content, preview the page to see if it meets the following requirements:

  • Does your content use plain language and commonly understood words?
  • Is the information presented in short, concise, and readable sections?
  • Is there ample use of headings, images, graphics, and lists?

In addition to identifying grammatical errors, software can assess the reading level of your content. Keep in mind that no tool works perfectly. When possible, user testing can provide you with valuable feedback from real users.

Accessible content benefits everyone

Remember, an accessible website benefits everyone, not just users with disabilities. The more accessible your web content is, the better it will connect.

Need help? Please reach out. The expert in web accessibility and WCAG compliance here at Practis can help.