Billion Strong A Global Disability Movement

How To Make Your Website Accessible for the Hearing Impaired

By Justin Bennett

If you are running a website for your business or organization, you want to reach as wide an audience as possible. Statistics show that at least 48 million Americans live with some degree of hearing loss. It is possible that a huge part of your target demographic is made up of individuals with hearing impairments. Disability inclusion should be a high priority in your website content strategy so that all of your clients and customers can enjoy what you have to offer. Ruh Global Impact presents this article to help you make your website more accessible.

Understand the Importance of Accessibility

Many websites utilize video or other types of content with a sound element in order to capture an audience’s attention. It goes without saying that these types of content will feel inaccessible to the hearing impaired, but there are other aspects of your website that may need to be optimized as well.

Some studies show a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline in certain age groups. If the design of your website is confusing and difficult to navigate, users may become frustrated. Individuals who do not have a pleasant experience on your site will quickly click away, lending to a high bounce rate and many missed opportunities on your part. 

Make Meaningful Changes to Your Website

Designing your website for easy navigation is the first step toward accessibility and good practice in general. Important information should be accessible with a single click, or just a few clicks at the most. Consider adding a search bar so users can find the content they’re looking for without hunting through multiple pages and menus.

It is also important to provide accessible means for potential clients to contact you. If your contact page only includes a phone number, individuals with hearing impairments may struggle to reach you. Some alternatives may include email, online forms, or even live chat solutions.

When including any element of sound on your websites, such as in a video or audio player plugin, be sure to incorporate ways to make the content accessible to users with hearing loss. This can be accomplished by implementing subtitles into your videos, or by typing captions nearby on the page that listeners can follow along with. Similarly, you might provide a brief summary of the material covered in the content. 

Know Where To Get Help

Creating the best user experience possible tends to be more than a one-man job. Getting the help you need likely entails hiring professionals who are experienced in web accessibility. For example, you might seek a subtitler who can professionally transcribe and format captions for your site’s audio content.

If you need a more complex overhaul on your site’s backend to improve navigation, a professional WordPress developer can give you the right boost. Freelance developers commonly offer their services through online job boards, though it’s important to remember that a WordPress developer salary is usually around $15-28 per hour. Be aware that some developers may choose to charge more based on their skill level and experience.

Accessibility matters, not only from a moral standpoint but from a business-minded standpoint as well. Individuals with hearing impairments deserve to enjoy the content and services offered through your website, and you stand to gain from widening your audience to include the many people with disabilities making use of the Internet. With the right tools and a solid plan, you can make big steps toward accessibility starting today.

Ruh Global Impact strives to help non-profit organizations, businesses, government entities, and academic institutions become leaders in diversity inclusion. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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About the Author: Justin Bennett is an author and the creator of Healthy Fit, which collects valuable fitness resources from across the web.

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