Too often as we put our blogs together we think about what we like personally but don’t really give a lot of thought to how others may view the same pages. In the end, the goal is to have others to be able to read our blogs and enjoy them, but are we making small mistakes that could be making it difficult for others to enjoy our blogs? Here are a few thoughts from some of our bloggers on things that often make it difficult for them to access blogs and websites.

1. Choosing poor fonts – You’ll find that most all printed materials use the same fonts, and event most major websites. At the very least those fonts come from the same family – Sans-Serif. Sans-Serif fonts don’t have extraneous projecting features, they are just simple and easy on the eyes. Ariel is the most common and easiest to read of the Sans-Serif fonts. Whatever font you choose to use, pick one and stick with it. Don’t use multiple fonts within the same page. Also, while occasional header text is important, avoid using many different font sizes in a single post, and use upper and lower cases letters appropriately.

 

2. Choosing poor color combinations – Instead of using a background color behind your text, use the background color as the page background and set the text box color to white and choose a dark (black is best) text color. Colored text or colored background can make it difficult to read a page. Black letters on a white or light colored background are easiest to read. However, white text on a black background can be easier on the eyes when reading at night or for those who suffer from migraines.

 

3. Aligning text improperly – Unless you are writing a poem, your paragraph should not be centered. When your entire blog post is centered on the page it’s really difficult for the eyes to follow. As you scroll through a page it becomes harder and harder to keep your place.

 

4. Failing to space between paragraphs – Your blog post should never be one single block of text. Keep paragraphs short and make sure there is white space between them. The general rule of thumb when creating online content is to keep paragraphs no more than three to four sentences. White space between paragraphs makes it easier to scan a page and avoid losing your place.

 

5. Layering text on top of images – When you layer text on top of an image, the text will often blend into the image making it difficult to read. If you want your blog to have an image background that’s fine, just make sure that your text boxes are a solid color. Choose a single solid background color.

Lack of distracting patterns is a big one for me, since I have visual snow… a rare neurological condition that affects vision. Patterns cause my vision to warp more than usual. I won’t stay on a site that is too … visually distracting.” – Nikki Albert, Brainless Blogger

Living with dizziness and vertigo, motion can be a problem especially sites where the background images move as you scroll down – Rhiann, My Brain Lesion & Me

 

6. Allowing your posts to display across the whole screen – As I am typing this in a Word document I notice that the document is set up to only display across about 60% of my screen. That is helpful because if it was full width I’d have a difficult time keeping up with where I’m at. It’s even worse if I’m trying to read something and it runs the full width of my screen. Widescreen computers and higher screen resolutions are now the norm. Most websites display in multiple columns with the main textbox displaying in about 50% – 60% of the screen.

 

7. Failing to make your blog RSS friendly – Many people do not read your blog directly on your blog site, they prefer instead to use RSS readers (like Bloglovin or Feedly) to keep up with all the blogs they enjoy. Make sure that you have an RSS option set up on your blog.

 

8. Failing to underline links – You added a link to your blog because you want people to click it, but if they can’t see the link they don’t know it’s there. Most people don’t move their mouse along the text as they read it, but when your links aren’t underlined that’s literally the only way they can know it’s there. While you may think that just having the links be a different color is enough, it’s not enough for most people to register that it’s a link. Since the beginning of the internet links have been underlined, it’s what people have been trained to expect.

 

9. Failing to properly describe images– Not all of your readers are actually reading your post with their eyes. Many are having your post read to them by a text reader. When you don’t provide proper descriptions and alt text for your images blind readers and others who use text readers will miss out on the image completely.

 

10. Failing to include a text transcript of audio and video – If you run a podcast or offer video or audio on your website or blog you NEED to offer a transcript of your audio. Not only are there millions of people who are hard of hearing that you may be leaving out completely, there are millions others who can hear but who have trouble processing audio. A text transcript of your audio and video files allows all users to access your content equally.

 

11. Autoplaying music – This is just a bad idea for so many reasons. Even for those without disabilities it’s the fastest way to get caught reading a website when you are in a meeting. But, for those of us with disabilities that result in noise sensitivity or over stimulation, auto-playing music is just painful.

Music on a blog is the worst, both for migraines and just in general.” – Brittany – A Southern Celiac

 

12. Overloading Popups – Popups seem like an accepted piece of the web now. They exist on just about every single website and you can disable them via browser options. So, we assume that those who are bothered will disable them. Unfortunately, they don’t always know that they can. And, even if they know that they can setting may not allow them to block all popups. So, hitting your readers with multiple popups on their way into and out of your website may just cause them not to return.

Honestly, any automatic things are really hard to deal with – pop-ups, music, videos, gifs without warning. My migraine brain really gets turned off by that kind of stuff. – Kirsten of NotStandingStillsdisease.com

 

There are plugins to provide options to your readers. If you are serious about making sure your blog is readable for all who enter you may want to consider one. If you are on WordPress, take a look at the SOGO Accessibility plugin (thanks JBOT for this tip) – of course your readers still have to know that the option exists on your website and how to enable it.

You’ve gone through the trouble of sharing your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and advice in hopes that it will help others, but have you really made sure that those others can read and enjoy your blog? If you are making these mistakes it may drastically reduce the number of readers to your blog. The good news is that a few simple changes can fix these big mistakes and your readers will thank you for it.

 

CountingMySpoons

Julie Ryan

Julie Ryan is a freelance writer and editor. She blogs about living with chronic illness at http://countingmyspoons.com - She is also a regular contributor to HealthyWay.com and Prohealth.com

See all posts by countingmyspoons

4 thoughts on “12 ways your website is inaccessible to those with chronic illness

  • December 8, 2016 at 6:35 pm
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    Some very valid points here and I am pleased that my own blog follows these rules. Perhaps because I have vision problems of my own.

    Reply
  • December 11, 2016 at 1:34 pm
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    This is a very useful topic to discuss. Some of your points (like popups) I fully agree with.

    But it isn’t one size fits all with any aspect of chronic illness 🙁 For example, I find serif NOT sans serif text much easier to read with my ME acquired dyslexia. Somewhere I read that this is related to the specific reading problems in ME. The little lines in serif typefaces anchor the text to the line. This makes sense as when I’m bad what I see is a wriggly line of text.

    Similarly, colours and contrast aid or aggravate differently. With ME a bright white background is probably best avoided. The box I’m writing this comment in has a light grey background and dark grey text which is better for me than bright white and contrasting black.

    This is a headache if like you, you’re writing for people with all different conditions! As you say, there are accessibility plugins where people can make personal adjustments. This seems like the best option.

    Reply
    • CountingMySpoons
      December 11, 2016 at 6:02 pm
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      Excellent points and probably would that should be at the top of this post – know who you are writing for and what their needs are. Unfortunately, few are writing for a very specific subset with very specific needs. For most it’s best to try to help the most people, allowing the user to select things like background color and font is the probably the most helpful, while providing transcripts and such for those who need them as well would go a long way.

      Reply
  • December 14, 2016 at 8:22 am
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    sighing, with dyslexia, I have to admit that rounded fonts are hard as heck for ME to read as it requires so much energy to discern the word, and letters. Saying that, some fonts also don’t work for those who are sight impaired. This is why I think that perhaps blogs will also be best augmented with video vblogs to augment the written blog, but that’s just me. Background color of SOME KIND is helpful, Black, isn’t. It blurs the white font to the point that it runs together.

    Autoplays, Pop ups, Ads maybe outside of individual control unless you are making your blog yourself. AND know how to fix autoplay. It’s just best to leave your music on youtube, unless you know how to insert it at MUTE and have the person learn they need to turn on the sound. Some of the most obnoxious autoplays are MIDI music add ins (especially new age websites, they are notorious for using these almost funeral sounding MIDI sounds worse than elevator music) and in my experience those horrible automated snow, automated elves, etc that stay with you as you attempt to scroll down.

    It can be a ‘requirement’ of a free blog site to have these things in the blog. Same goes with underlining links may not be in the control of the blogger, especially in WYSWIG drop design. You might be able to do it, you might not. It’s all formatting at that point. Same with the size of the page itself.

    The best thing you can do when blogging is remember the 3 font rule: no more than 3 differing fonts and the same goes with color. I also recommend not having a front flash screen that pops up in fifteen seconds demanding someone join your site, or subscribes, with a black filter. Just don’t do it. People who come to your blog want to read what you have to say, THEN will determine if they want to subscribe, otherwise its an annoyance and it interferes with reading.

    Please also realize that keeping your paragraphs short and focused helps, “no repeatees”…Some people endlessly repeat what they have said over (and over and over again), once or twice is good enough for someone to remember what you’ve said.

    Lastly, I love the idea of transcripts! And certainly proof read your blog BEFORE you publish it for coherency, punctuation, spelling snafus and make sure your sentence structure makes sense! But that’s just me! Thank you for bringing this up as a topic!!!

    Reply

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