It’s important that we should remember at all times that not everybody reads web pages in the same way. For this reason, web content needs to be created in a way that is easily understood by screen readers.
What does this mean in practice?
Here are a few principles that are worth bearing in mind.
It will not always be possible to follow them absolutely but, nevertheless, they are good aims.
- In text, spell out, rather than use symbols
Spell out words like and and plus, rather than using symbols such as “&” and “+”. Screen readers may vary in how they interpret such symbols.
- Do not use text-formatting characters
Do not use hard carriage returns and tab characters to format sentences and paragraphs. These may not work as intended when windows are resized or text is enlarged.
- Do not describe screen location using direction
Avoid using terms like on the left, above or below to describe the location of something on the screen; these terms are not useful for screen readers.
- Use graphics with consideration for all readers
Graphics can be very useful as a way of conveying information quickly and succinctly. However, we need to be conscious that not everybody will be able to see graphics clearly or at all.
For this reason, we should also employ alternative ways of communicating the information shown in any given graphic. Take care that a reader can obtain the same information in either way – text or graphic.