Ep 164 | Create a Better User Experience for All with Amber Hinds

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Accessibility is an important element of your website. It ensures that all people can access the content on your website. It's not only the right thing to do, but there are also leagal requirements around it. Amber Hinds is here to share how to get started with reviewing your website and what to think about.

What you'll learn:

→ what elements are included in website user accessibility.
→ tools to help you review your website.
→ how user accessibility also helps with SEO and better user experience.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[10:11] Accessibility Laws Many countries have accessibility laws that apply to websites. In the U.S., you may need to follow either Section 508, or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Document all efforts you put into the accessibility of your website in case you need to provide records.
[14:46] Accessibility Guidelines Use headers in the proper order and anchor links to make navigating easier. Make links and finding different pages easy to understand for people that are visually impaired or use some technology to control their devices.
[23:55] Color Contrast Color contrast is very important for helping people navigate your website. It can help when looking at your device in bright places, and also anyone with impaired vision. Follow the guidelines to achieve either a AA or AAA rating.
[29:10] Accessibility Overlay Avoid using all in one accessibility tools that can make major changes to your website and negatively affect user experience. If needed, use tools that are specific to exactly what you need help with, or try to make the adjustments yourself as you learn more about accessibility guidelines.


Adobe Accessibility Color Palette
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Contrast Grid
Equalize Digital Accessibility Checker

Amber Hinds

Amber Hinds

CEO, Equalize Digital, INC

Amber Hinds is the CEO of Equalize Digital, Inc., a Certified B Corp specializing in WordPress accessibility, maker of the Accessibility Checker plugin, and lead organizer of the WordPress Accessibility Meetup and WP Accessibility Day conference.

Through her work at Equalize Digital, Amber is striving to create a world where all people have equal access to information and tools on the internet, regardless of ability. Since 2010, she has led teams building websites and web applications for nonprofits, K-12 and higher education institutions, government agencies, and businesses of all sizes. Learn more: https://equalizedigital.com 

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] We often think about accessibility in the physical space. So can a wheelchair make its way through a retail space? Can I get in and out of a restaurant when I go through the drive thru? Can I still place an order even if I'm deaf or hard of hearing? All of these things, we are commonly thinking about the handicap spaces outside of a physical store. But we don't always think about what this means when we're in the digital space. And I'm super excited today to talk with Amber Hinds so she can share with you some things to think about and why accessibility in the digital space is so important, and how you can get started and making sure that you're creating a great user experience. Amber Hinds is the CEO of Equalize Digital Inc, a certified B Corp specializing in WordPress accessibility, maker of the accessibility checker plugin and lead organizer of the WordPress accessibility meetup and WP accessibility day conference. Through her work at Equalize Digital, Amber is striving to create a world where all people have equal access to information and tools on the internet, regardless of ability. Since 2010, she has led teams building websites and web applications for nonprofits, K-12, and higher education institutions, government agencies and businesses of all sizes. This is a must listen for every single organization, for profit, nonprofit, whatever out there, just to be aware of some of these things and start to make some improvement. And they don't all have to be massive and major, we're not suggesting that you have to build a brand new website. But there are some easy ways to go about this so that you can be more accessible to all types of people. And this is so important right now, not just for legal aspects, but also just for SEO and for your general users. A lot of these things bleed into all different types of users from you know, hearing impaired to visually impaired to not impaired in any way, shape, or form. Some of these things are affecting all spectrums. So I really hope that you'll take a listen to this episode and kind of figure out where you need to start and go from there. And if you started doing some of these things, great, you're gonna learn how to kind of take it to the next level. So I hope that you listen, let me know what you think by emailing me at sami@thefirstclick.net. But before we jump into this episode, it is brought to you by our office hours, go to thefirstclick.net/officehours and sign up for your digital marketing therapy session. These 30 minute sessions give you access to me. So you don't have to hire a consultant. But you can still get a consultant five, and a consultant strategy session. I can help walk you through whatever it is whether it's talking deeper about what you learned in this episode, or helping you create your content strategy, we can get a lot done in 30 minutes. So again, thefirstclick.net/officehours. Let's get into the episode.

[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing, and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, please join me in welcoming Amber Hinds to the podcast. Amber, thanks for being here. 

[Amber Hinds] I'm excited to be here. Thanks for having me. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, so we're talking about accessibility today. And I think a lot of people think about it from the standpoint of your physical space. So when we walk into a restaurant or a retail space, we don't always think about it in kind of the online space. We're fortunate most of us, to not have to worry about that. But why do we want to think about accessibility? And why is that something important?

[Amber Hinds] Yeah, so really, accessibility matters a lot online, it probably matters even more now than it did before COVID, because we have started engaging even more with businesses on the internet. And having a website that is accessible really means having one that can be used by all people on all devices. And so accessibility comes into play in a lot of ways. So we think about someone who is blind, or someone who has a lot of disabilities during COVID especially, but there it might be more challenging for them to go out because they're concerned about getting sick. And so they might have been ordering groceries online trying to schedule services with businesses online. You know, any number of things like that, and then other examples are like, videos or podcasts having transcripts or captions are really important. And then there's a whole breadth of things that come into play that impact people on mobile devices, or people that have slower internet connections, who you might not typically think of as disabled. There are situational limitations where accessibility features can really help businesses or organizations reach everyone with their website. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, this is really, it is an accessibility issue, but it's also just a user experience issue. So like you're talking about mobile devices, like how can we think about our global audience, and the ways that they engage and interact with our stuff so that we can get more customers and make more sales? You know, I mean, it's really just making sure that everybody can see things the way that they, or hear things, or read things the way that they kind of need to. So if I'm listening to this, and this is the first time I've even thought about this as a concept, kind of what's a good first step to think about what my presence looks like, and how I might want to start to make some adjustments or changes.

[Amber Hinds] Yeah, so the the first thing that you probably want to do if you've never tried, is use your website with only a keyboard, turn your mouse off, put it in a drawer, and try and use your website using the tab key, and the arrow keys, and the enter, and the spacebar and see if you can do everything that you would want a customer to do. Can you fill out a form? Can you add a product to your cart? Can you advance the slider or open the accordions in the FAQ section to get the information that you might need? And why do I say do it with a keyboard alone? A lot of people with a lot of different abilities are keyboard-only users. So this includes blind people who use screen readers, they can't see in order to point a mouse, and includes a lot of people with different types of mobility limitations. So they might be using a eye tracking software because they can't use their arms at all. They might be using a sip and puff device, or they might have some mobility, where they can do some things on a keyboard, but a mouse is challenging for them to move around. And, and so there are a lot of people who are keyboard only users. And when you're looking for that you want to see, is there a visible outline around everything on the website? And do you not get lost? And then can you do everything that you want them to do? So that's a really good place to start. And then there's a number of automated tools, many of which are free, that you could just do a scan of like your homepage, and they would tell you some of the more obvious errors, they won't catch all of them. But some of the more code related errors. And so that's probably a good place to get started. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, and also thinking about things like, can I just hit escape and get out of a pop up, right, because I know a lot of people have pop ups on their website, or I know this isn't as big now as it used to be, but kind of the auto playing of videos and making it easy for people to turn them off with their keyboard, right, like things like that, that we might think of from a marketing perspective, are great at getting people to engage with their content, but from an accessibility standpoint are troublesome.

[Amber Hinds] Yeah, another thing that people, many people, probably don't realize is that people who have low vision will frequently have to zoom in a lot in their browser in order to be able to see and so they might be using a website at 200, 300, even maybe 400% Zoom. So just hitting the zoom in your browser and zooming in that much and trying to see, can I still read everything? Can I still use the website? And this is where mobile menus come into play. Because typically, when we zoom in our website looks like a very large mobile version of our website. And so the mobile menu comes into play. And a lot of times, depending upon the website builder, the mobile menus are not accessible at all. And people would think, well, it's on a phone, it doesn't need to work with a tab key on a keyboard, but because people zoom in, it does. And then it's a basic challenge of, someone can even navigate to different pages on your website. Maybe they can't even contact you because they can't get to your contact page. There's no way to do it. So how are they even going to ask you for help and then they you know might end up bouncing or that's when you start to get in the situation of maybe even having a legal complaint. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Okay, so you brought up legal and I'm gonna make this disclaimer that we are not lawyers and advice that's on this is just advice. It doesn't mean it's going to cover all your bases, but this is just a good place to start. Cause it's not just something that's good to do or nice to do. There are kind of legal requirements if you are a business owner with a website online. Could you talk about that a little bit? 

[Amber Hinds] Sure. I think there's about 30 or 40 countries in the world that have laws about website accessibility. And they vary based on the country. And yes, I'm not a lawyer, I've read a bunch about it. So I can give you some thoughts. But I think, you know, ultimately, you would want to, depending upon what country you're in, you'd want to check on that. We are in the United States, and I'm most familiar with US laws. And in the United States, there are two laws that come into play. The most common one, from a situation of websites that understand the need to be accessible is section 508, which requires, which applies to any website that gets federal funding. And so this could be a federal, it could be a higher end website, it could be a nonprofit website that has received a grant from the federal government. And so or potentially a business who has some funds from the federal government, and so their website would need to be accessible. On the for profit business side, the biggest one, and this actually had a strengthening statement put out in March by the Department of Justice is the Americans with Disabilities Act. And the Americans with Disabilities Act states that communications with people with disabilities needs to be as effective as communications with people without and that they need to be provided reasonable accommodation in all places of business. And for a while, it was businesses would push back and say, Well, my website isn't a place. But this is increasing, where we're seeing the lawsuits related to website accessibility, because that's how the Americans with Disabilities Act is actually, I guess, enforced. It was set up in a way that like people can sue, and that's how it gets enforced, rather than fines from the government. And then the Department of Justice is saying, No, a website is a place, and you have to accommodate people on there. Most of the lawsuits are in California, because California allows damages. But I think what is really important to note is that your business does not have to be located  in California, or even in the United States, in order for this to apply to you. So one of the things many businesses are familiar with are the privacy laws in Europe, and the cookie notices that are required, and that even if you're not located in Europe, you can fall under those and get fines under those privacy laws. Well, the accessibility laws are the exact same way, if they can prove that you target enough customers in that geographic area, or you have an employee in that geographic area, or you have a warehouse where you store products in that geographic area, then the laws apply to you and the accessibility laws that apply. And there's some really strict ones also in Ontario, which have fines of up to $100,000 per day from the government, and businesses with over 50 employees in Ontario actually have to file an annual statement about their website accessibility with the government. So they're very serious about that. And it's the same thing. So people in Michigan, they're not Canadian businesses, but if they're doing a lot of business across the way, then it could impact them as well. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, in this in the blessing and the curse of the digital age, right, it's easier to reach a wider geographical area, but it also makes us more liable to things that we might not even necessarily be thinking about. So I guess, I feel like you know, if you really dive into these laws, there's like, you know, 1000s of requirements and things that people would need to do. And I think the important part of this is to really just start working on it, because I think like you mentioned, the privacy laws have grown more stringent over time, I think the accessibility laws are going to do the same. So it's just a matter of getting started and kind of starting to grow. And we will link up in the show notes, some plugins for WordPress users, like you mentioned that are free and easy to kind of make some of these adjustments for you. But kind of what are some if I'm not a major techy person or I'm not hiring somebody just yet, like what are some things that I can do right now that are pretty easy to get started as I continue to work through some of these issues?

[Amber Hinds] Yep. So lawyers frequently say it's important to have an accessibility statement on your website. So that's a good place to start. Figure out what your company's policy about website accessibility is. Documenting what someone can do if they need help. What can they contact and generally, you don't want to make them fill out a form. Because if the forms aren't accessible though, give them a phone number or an email address, it's typically good to have multiple forms that people can use so they can contact you whichever way works best. That's a good place to start. And then you want to, you know, we talked in the beginning, where are some places you can start as far as testing. If you have a WordPress website, we have a free plug in called Accessibility Checker that you can put on it. And you could even try doing some of that testing yourself. If you don't feel comfortable, then you probably want to find whether it's an individual consultant, or an accessibility focused company that can come in and audit. And then really, you want to start making incremental changes, and sort of documenting what you're doing over time, especially if you're in an area where you're particularly concerned about a lawsuit or a fine. There are some industries here in the US, I think, over 70% of the lawsuits last year were against restaurants, or, and then E commerce businesses come into play a lot. So sort of thinking about that if you're in one of those spaces, you sell products online, or you are food related, then you might want to really focus on it. And there are some content things that can be done that don't require a developer. So these are things like adding alternative text on your images. No matter what website builder you use, there's probably a box where you can fill in and describe what the image looks like. And this is really helpful for people who are blind, so they know what they're missing if they can't see an image and make sure they're not missing any important information. Headings are really important. Having good headings that break up your content and then also using them in the right numerical order. So you may have seen if you were putting content into a website that you can choose headings by number, and there's a Heading One, Heading Two, Heading Three. And what's really important to know is those headings are not selected because of their size, or their style. You know, I like this font better or this color. So I'm going to use this heading here, headings are supposed to be used to help people navigate the website and also search engines use these too. And so you really want to use headings in the proper numerical order, there should be only one heading one on any page. And that's typically the title of the page. And then beyond that, you would have heading twos. And then if you need subheadings, in order to sort of build out an outline format, you would have heading threes under those heading fours only go under Heading threes, those sorts of things. So headings can be really helpful. Another thing is having good anchor text on your link. And that anchor text is a visible text that you see when you click on a link. We really want it to be meaningful without seeing any surrounding context. One of the ways that people who are blind, move quickly through our website, right when we visit a website, if you're a sighted person, you don't read every word, word for word, you skim and you jump around and your eyes jump around the page and you find what you're looking for. And the same thing, a blind person does not want to have to listen to every single word on a website. And so there are different ways in screen readers that people can skim or jump around and try and find what they're looking for. One of those are the headings that we mentioned. Another thing is that they can just hear a list of all the links on the page. And if your link text says click here, or learn more, or download now, or just add to cart, they will have no idea if they want to follow that link or click on that link because they have no idea what it's for. So it's really important to have meaningful link text. This also again, like it's another thing that really helps with search engines because search engines use that to learn about the page that they're going to curl next when they follow the link. And it can really help with search engine ranking. So you can either do that literally in what you're writing. If you're writing a link into a paragraph, it's very easy to say, you know, contact us and highlight content and link the words contact us rather than to contact us click here. And during the word here on links that are styled like buttons, you need to be a little bit more creative. And depending upon your builder it might require some HTML code or help from a developer to get it set up in a way so that you can add what's called Hidden screen reader texts. Visually it'll still only say learn more to someone who's sighted but a screen reader would hear it learn more about us. And then on that thing, those are some really good areas to start that are just content we mentioned, oh, captions and transcripts are very helpful and very important.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And I want to touch on that. A lot of the SEO stuff is in line with accessibility, because I think search engines also, Google especially wants to reward websites that are allowing all of their users to see it. So like for us for this podcast, for example, when you hit our website, you get shownotes, that gives you a synopsis of the episode. You get, you can access full transcripts, you can watch the YouTube video, you can have the YouTube video with captions, you can listen to the audio player, so really just giving everybody kind of the opportunity to, and just to access it in the way that they want to. Maybe you want to listen to a podcast player, but maybe you want to watch a YouTube video, maybe you want to read it. Just the nice thing about this is you're really just making the experience overall better. 

[Amber Hinds] Yeah, it really is. And like with your example, right, you have the different options of listening, or watching the video. Or if you can't hear, you could watch it with captions, because you get something out of people's faces, right. And so there might be a reason why someone wants to watch and read the captions. But also the transcripts are great, because one, and podcasts that don't do transcripts, I'm just like, you're missing out so much on SEO, because Google we know loves long form content. And you might get a 1000 or 2000 word post out of a page that has a transcript on it, even if you put the transcript in an accordion because you're like, oh, I don't want the full thing. Let's let people expand it right, like I want the page to look shorter. You can do that visually and that's fine. As long as on a keyboard, that accordion can be opened. But if it puts more content there, which is very helpful, not only for the ranking, but also let's say I listened and I've done this before where I've listened to a podcast, I'm folding laundry, you know, or I'm out putting my kids in the stroller, I'm listening to a podcast, and I'm like, oh, man, that's so great. I'm going to share this. But I want to have a quote, right? And so having the transcript is really helpful. Because I can like skim back through the transcript, find the part that worked, you know that I was like, oh, man, that really caught me. And then when I share it to Twitter, I just like paste in that quote, right, instead of having to go back and try it. Because sometimes I don't remember where was I in the episode, like, you know, I'm gonna remember that I was, you know, 17 minutes in, no. And so like, it really helps everyone, I think whether or not someone has a disability that we would recognize, it's just all about having an overall positive user experience. And that's what's going to keep people coming back. And that's what's going to help people want to convert, or we talked about, it can take seven times or more for someone to decide to actually make a purchase decision with a business. And, and so that means they have to want to come back to your website, and they have to find the content that you're putting out there helpful and useful. Otherwise, they might hit it, and they're just like, oh, this doesn't work for me, or, you know, maybe I'll come back later. And there's nothing really pulling them in or making them and they won't come back. And they're going to end up somewhere else on a competitor's website, where it does work for them. And it works for their technology or provides the helpful information that they're looking for more easily. So a lot of accessibility is really tied, like it's very wrapped into user experience, and just good marketing practices too.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yes, well, and so we've talked a lot about kind of the words and the images. But I think sometimes as business owners, we get really wrapped up in the design and making our website look beautiful. And color contrast and how we use those words on top of those is also something that can be really impactful. And something we need to pay attention to as well, yeah?

[Amber Hinds] Color contrast is super important. It's probably one of the top mistakes. There's an organization called Webaim that every year they do the web a million where they scan the top 1 million websites by traffic, just their homepage, and they test to see if there's any obvious accessibility errors. And I'm pretty sure color contrast is the number one that almost all websites have, unfortunately. And so what color contrast means if someone's not familiar with that, is it's the difference between the color of the text and the background behind it. And there you can calculate, there's a numerical formula that can be used to calculate a difference numerically between the luminosity of those foreground and background colors for text. And also sometimes for interactive elements like the outline on a field that you would type in for a form that you want to have some good color contrast on to because otherwise, it's harder to know where to click your mouse sometimes. So, color contrast matters a lot. It matters for people who have low visio. It also matters, and I've run into this issue myself, someone who's on a phone outside on a sunny day. If your website does not have good color contrast, it can be really hard. Like, I think I've been at a park, my husband's like, where do we want to go eat? And we're like, looking at websites for restaurants trying to find menus, and don't even get me started on all the PDF downloads for restaurant websites and how much I hate them. Because I'm like, I don't want to download all these PDFs on my phone. And they're not mobile responsive, so you're like trying to drag around it and zoom in and zoom out. And it's so bad. But like color contrast really comes into play a lot. So if you're trying to figure out accessibility, there's something called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which are internationally agreed upon guidelines that a committee of volunteers works to build that are actual measurable items that you can use to say yes or no, is a website accessible. The current version is called 2.1. Maybe sometime this year, they're gonna put out 2.2, but it got super delayed by COVID so I'm not certain. And 2.1, so there's single A, double A, and triple A. Single A is not really considered accessible. The standard or bare minimum should be double A, and then triple A is even better. So for color contrast, they have a double A, and they have a triple A. We try as much as possible to always meet triple A color contrast, because we think it's best. But sometimes you might, you might be in a situation where double A makes sense. But there are a ton of tools, if you just Google, you know, color checker. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I was gonna say, doesn't WebAIM have a free color contrast checker as well? And then you just put in your codes, right, and it'll say, good, or. 

[Amber Hinds] You put in your two codes. And it will tell you if it's double A or not. And then also, there's guidelines where if it's larger font, the color contrast can be a little bit closer together. And it's okay, because the font size makes up for it. So they'll do that. The thing I like about the WebAIM tool is you can put it in and it can say not. And they have sliders where you can drag a little bit. So you'd be like, what happens if I make this one a little darker, or this one a little lighter? And then as you drag, it will say Oh, they're all, you know, green with the checkmark, they'll pass. Now you're like, Okay, great, that's my color I'm gonna use. So the other one that is really great on color testing is, well, there's two. So Adobe has one, accessible color palette, that you can use to test for colorblindness, because you want to make sure that your colors are sufficiently different from one another, if you're putting them next to each other and someone that's colorblind. So that's really helpful. And then I'll have to send you a link, so you can put it in the show notes. But there is a color contrast grid. And this is super helpful for brands that are figuring out their color palette. And so you put all of the colors in and it puts them all across the top and all across the side. And then basically, it will show you can these two be used together or not. And that is super helpful if you're trying to figure out what is our entire palette, because you probably will have colors in your color palette that don't sufficiently contrast with one another. And that's fine, as long as you don't use them for text and backgrounds together. So you need to have something that you can give your design team and just say, here's our colors. And these are the ones that are allowed to be used together. And if there's a blank square here, that means it can't be used together. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That's so helpful. And I think just take some of the guesswork out of it. Because I know a lot of times, especially when we're going through branding, we get emotionally attached to kind of the design and the colors. So to kind of just really break it down and say okay, well yeah, this works, this doesn't, I think that's awesome. Well, I think we could probably go on about this forever, because there's so many elements, but I think we gave everybody a really good place to kind of kick things off and get started. Is there anything else that you think is critical to mention or kind of any last words that you might want to share with listeners?

[Amber Hinds] Yeah, so I don't know how many of your listeners have a WordPress website. I think it's been a while since we've chatted about that. But we've run a WordPress accessibility meetup twice a month, which is free, and it happens on Zoom webinars. And we talk about content, we talk about design, we talk about user experience. Sometimes we have panel discussions, occasionally we talk about Dev and code, but it's pretty rare, actually. So I highly recommend if anyone wants to dive in more, that's a great place to learn more. And as I mentioned, we have the accessibility checker plugin, which is free on wordpress.org. And can help you, if you install it, it'll put a little report almost like your SEO reports at the bottom of every page. And that's a great place as well, to kind of get started and figure out what problems might exist and remind yourself as you're adding new content, oh, I need to have my headings in the right order, because it'll flag those kinds of things. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, and I think now that you've heard this episode, you're probably going to notice, you know, a lot of websites will have a little accessibility like either the little human or the you know, a lot of people have different things that pop up. So I think you'll probably now start to see those on more websites now that you've heard this. So, you know, play around with those too and kind of see what features they have, because it can help you with learning more about your site. 

[Amber Hinds] So I want to be cautious about those. So those are typically what would be referred to as an accessibility overlay, those toolbars. And those are generally not recommended. I actually saw it, it's July 13, as we record this, and in the New York Times, today, there's an article talking about how blind people do not like those, and that they can actually hinder their experience on the web. So sometimes, some of those accessibility tools can fix some things. But also in a lot of situations, they notice someone's using a screen reader, they can tell if they recognize that technology, and they take over and they can cause a negative experience. And then I've also seen where they're trying to fix things, but they do it not well, like trying to add alt text on images, but the alt text is basically Jarvis AI generated all texts, not super great. And so  I think too, like some of them will say use it and you won't get sued. But I think about half of the lawsuits last year were against a website that already had one of those on it. And as part of the terms of their settlement, they had to remove the overlay. So I generally don't recommend those to people. If you do look into them, I would with extreme caution, talk to your developer or your designer, whoever you're working with on your website. And if you have the ability to talk to your customer base, or do any sort of like user feedback, maybe put it on a test site first and let them try it and give you feedback to figure out if it is actually real. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Okay, so I'm glad you said that not to go down too much of a rabbit hole, but some of them do have automatic contrast. They'll change the contrast of the website. So is it kind of one of those situations where evaluating the different features and what you're using it for or just across the board, be very cautious about some of those plugins? 

[Amber Hinds] So I think, so there are also tools like just WordPress plugins that are like add a contrast thing. And that's all it does. Those types of tools, I think are more likely to be okay. It's the ones that are literally branded, and they're like a SAS software solution for all in one accessibility tool. And it does like, I don't know, 75 things to your website, changes the font, and like all these different things, I think doing the color contrast might be okay, you really do need to test it because I've seen instances where some of those like they missed some things and they fail to change the text. And then they make the background black and the text is black, it is not readable. You might also, a lot of people who knew us might have noticed like they have one of those on whitehouse.gov. And that's a really big example where they have a make the font larger option. But it's not like infinitely you pick the size, it's just bigger or smaller. And then they have a high contrast mode. But that is a little different, because it's not a separate plugin or widget that they added. It's something that was coded specifically into their website. And so they had a lot of control over it both in ensuring that it actually works and catches all the elements. And also in making sure that it still stays on brand. Because that's the other thing with some of those tools. A lot of times if you choose high contrast mode, it decides whether to make your text green or purple, and you should choose it right. And if you really care about your branding there, you know, there are a lot of different possibilities with high contrast mode. And so maybe you want to have it match your branding. So it would probably be better to have a developer do that for you. So some of those tools can be useful. I haven't seen good data though on usage. That's like one of my goals. I've been trying to figure out, can I get usage data on that? We're just talking about this internally. I was like I wonder if whitehouse.gov has open data and if they're actually tracking when people use it. Sometimes I think we think, let's add these things onto our website. It'll be so cool and helpful. And then no one uses them. I've seen the same thing happen with live chat. Businesses are like, we got to have live chat, or we got to have Facebook Messenger on our website. And we're like, okay, fine, and we put it on. And then I talked to them like six months later, and they're like, no one live chats us at all. You might as well not have it.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] What you're basically, the root of what you're basically getting to is take the time to just do it right. And if you can do it right on your website, the back end, be thoughtful about how you're creating new content. And some of these other kinds of flashier or new gadgets and gizmos and widgets that we get sidetracked with aren't necessarily helpful or useful, because you can just do it right on your own without a whole lot of, it's really not that much effort. It's just being conscious, and just doing it as you kind of create new content. 

[Amber Hinds] Yeah, I think the biggest thing is starting to learn it, there is a learning curve, because there's a lot of different things you have to remember. But then once you get into that, and you start, you know, entering your content more thoughtfully. Then over time, it's like in the beginning, when we're getting used to SEO.. How do we use keywords? Right? How do we structure our posts to be better for SEO? It takes a while to learn that in the beginning, but then after a while, you're just like, oh, this is what I need to do. And it becomes a little bit like second nature. And that's just the way you do it. And accessibility is in a lot of cases the same way. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, no, that's so good. Amber, if people want to know more about you and connect with you, how do they do that? 

[Amber Hinds] Yep, my website is equalizedigital.com. And I am most active on Twitter. And I am @Amberhinds. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Perfect. And we will, of course, have all the links in the show notes at thefirstclick.net/164. Amber, thank you so much for coming on today. 

[Amber Hinds] Thank you for having me.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Thank you again to Amber for joining me today, I learned a few new things myself. But I'm very excited to kind of really jump in and just do another audit of our website. It's been a bit since we've done it. And so now is a perfect time for us to do that. And just make sure that we are still up to date on all of the things that we've been working on. So I hope that you will subscribe wherever you listen, don't forget that new episodes come out every Tuesday. Make sure you grab all the resources and show notes, transcripts, YouTube videos for this episode at thefirstclick.net/164. I'd really love it if you would leave me a review and rate us wherever you listen. It really helps us to get out there and engage with more organizations that can use this type of information. As always, thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you. And I'll see you in the next one.

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