It’s important to 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’s understood by screen readers.
What does this mean in practice?
Here are a few principles that are worth bearing in mind.
It isn’t always possible to follow them absolutely but, still, 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.
- Don’t use text-formatting characters
Don’t 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.
- Don’t 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 aren’t 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, you need to be conscious that not everybody is able to see graphics clearly or at all.
For this reason, you should also employ alternative ways of communicating the information shown in any given graphic. Take care that a reader can get the same information in either way – text or graphic.