Improving your church website accesibility: Part One
Without a shadow of a doubt, we’re currently the most digital generation the world has ever seen. With Smartphones, Mobile apps, Social Media, Text Messaging, Emailing and websites for almost everything conceivable. If you have a question, there’s a fair chance you’ll be able to find an answer somewhere on the Internet. Since the introduction of the ‘World Wide Web’ in 1990, the accessibility to information, and the connectivity to the whole world has grown exponentially. And it doesn’t look to be slowing at any point.
As a Church in the 21st Century, it’s important that your Website informs people that you exist, but it can also be fundamental to building community and even attracting new visitors and members to your Church. Your Church Website can be a ‘Shop Window’ into your Church life and attract or detract people from joining your community and expression of The Kingdom of God. However, there’s a large percentage of the population that for one reason or another are unable to engage with websites in this manner.
With almost 1 billion people worldwide living with some kind of Disability, it’s imperative that we’re offering accessible and interactive websites to engage with all people. In this article and a couple following off its heels, we hope to offer a few great tips on how you can make your Church’s website more accessible for all users. Different disabilities can offer many unique challenges to web-design. Thankfully there are some simple, inexpensive ways that you can boost your site’s accessibility.
Generally speaking, there are three main groupings that you need to be aware of and should consider providing accessibility aids are as follows: Audibly Impaired (Deaf or Hard of Hearing), Visually Impaired (Blind or Loss of Sight) and Overstimulation (ADHD etc). In this article, we’ll be looking at tips to help with Audible Accessibility, in our next article, we’ll be hearing from an organisation committed to helping Churches become more accessible for people with Visual Impairment.
2 Top Tips for Audible Accessibility:
1 - Structure your website in clear, easy to read format with Titles, Headings, Paragraphs and Lists.
When one sense is lacking, you compensate with others. Making sure that your website is easy to read with great structural layout will help immeasurably. One simple step to help with this, is to allow Desktop users to browse the Mobile version of your website. Often, a Mobile version of the website is more visually accessible, with compressed formats, and generally speaking, less visual clutter. This can allow for an easier, clearer viewing experience.
I’m sure you’ve encountered websites before which look like the author has simply dumped all of their information on a page with little thought to formatting or structure. Speaking personally for a moment, as someone without an impairment or difficulty, I find this incredibly off putting and struggle to navigate the website. This feeling is only elevated when vision is your stronger sense. Consider breaking up your text with Headings, titles and sub sections. Clear layouts will make navigation easier, and increase traction with your website audience.
2- Use Captioning and Subtitles on any Video content you host on your website.
Whether you want captions permanently ‘burned’ on to your video, or if you want the user to be able to switch them on or off according to preference. Providing this service will not only increase the uptake on any call to actions you make in your videos, but it can even increase engagement wholesale across all viewers. One resource we’ve discovered, which is a great tool for Churches looking to start adding Subtitles or Captions to their videos. For as little as $1 per minute of video, https://www.rev.com/ will create your captions for you! All you need to do is provide the link to your video and they’ll do the rest! If you know how to upload a video to Youtube or Vimeo, you’ll easily be able to manage adding these Captions!
These two tips might sound simple, obvious even, but it’s surprising the difference they can make. By making your website more accessible, you’re not only opening your doors to a whole new section of the population, but you’re also making a statement that you care for, and are interested in the wellbeing of everyone.
If you’ve got any stories of your journey with this, we’d love to hear. Perhaps you’ve got some tips you too could share! Why not leave a comment on our facebook!