The Canadian Hearing Society estimates that there are 31.5 million Canadian’s that are hearing impaired. That means that you could be losing one of every ten potential customers if your website isn’t optimized to include persons who are deaf or living with hearing loss.
In today’s tech-driven world, it’s necessary that businesses from all walks have a concrete web presence.
There are 4.6 billion active internet users online today that browse company websites for more information about their products, questions about their services or simply to make a purchase.
With drag and drop platform models that make website building easy and efficient for business-owners, it’s no doubt that entrepreneurs are using these platforms to build professional websites.
Although these sites make website building a breeze, they often fail to consider the user experience of hearing impaired persons.
Like in life, your website acts as a point of contact – a digital brick and mortar – for your business.
Therefore, no matter what business you are running, it is important to think about the user experience for all of your potential customers and how you can take steps to engage patrons that may be hearing impaired.
When designing your website for inclusivity you will want to embrace inclusive design principles. You will need to look at your site from the point-of-view of someone who might not benefit from video or audio ads.
You can then incorporate inclusive design principles to make sure your website incorporates the needs of hearing impaired customers.
This is a great perspective for operating and doing good business.
Here are a few tips on how to help hearing-impaired customers get the best user experience from your website.
1. Transcribe Your Content
Many of the hearing imapired customers do not have access to audio that is incorporated into your website through videos or audio clips.
A great way to provide access to this is to consider adding subtitles or captions to your audio and video content.
Not only does this give accessibility to customers who are hearing impaired but also gives all visitors to your website the option to mute any audio they would prefer to read.
This is a sure fire way to ensure that persons with difficulty hearing are able to browse your site and be accommodated when doing so.
2. Organize Your Text So It Is Easy to Read
The way text appears on your website is an important part of design that can encourage users to continue reading.
There are ways of formatting text on a page that simplifies the overall look of the page and allows users to browse through topics easily in order to get the information they are looking for.
In the body of a text, large, concise header titles will help to structure and organize information so that it is easy to find while scrolling.
Section breaks are also helpful by creating small, digestible sections and making text less daunting to read.
Lastly, abundant white space helps accommodate visitors by creating a large, blank canvas for them to rest their eyes on.
3. Use Clear Text Colours
Although it doesn’t seem obvious at first, and it may be appealing to do because your competitors are not doing it – changing your text to out of this world colours will only strain the eyes of your users.
When there is enough contrast between your background and text your content will be easy to read.
4. Clear Navigation
Clear navigation helps everyone – not just the hearing impaired – to find important information throughout your website.
Ensure that your navigation bar is easy to access at the top of your page and each label is clearly written in simple terms that everyone will easily understand.
5. Offer Various Ways to Contact You
Rather than only providing a phone number as a form of contact, ensure your website has a clear contact section that offers an email address, Skype handle, webchat, social media links, and/or an online contact form that will allow the customer to give feedback or ask questions online.
This will help to make your site much more accessible no matter what an individual’s needs are.
6. Use images to provide context
For some hearing-impaired individuals, it is easier to understand information when there are images to go with that information, that provide context.
Ensuring that your website had clear, concise information paired alongside colourful and powerful images that establish your point. If you are on the hunt for stock photos, websites like Pexels and Unsplash both have a variety of powerful, royalty-free images for you to choose from.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a great resource for improving the web user experience for all persons.
7. Listen to feedback
As a business owner, there are a lot of opportunities to make improvements based on the feedback from customers.
By allocating a spot on your website for customer feedback you can open the doors for constructive feedback about how you can better accommodate your users.
Another good place to do this is by keeping on top of social media comments and posts, google reviews and any platform where clients can leave reviews and feedback.
Taking extra steps to make your business accommodating and accessible will mean the world to your customers.
Focusing on improving your website to help your hearing impaired customers will encourage them to come back because they will remember that you’ve gone out of your way to provide accessibility to those who need it and given them an experience that works for them.
With improvements in technology, inclusivity is easier than ever these days. Go out of your way to make your clients happy and provide a user experience that everyone can enjoy.