Start Improving Your Nonprofit’s Web Accessibility With These Tools

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As Prosper continues to work with nonprofits to help them better engage diverse stakeholders, improve effectiveness and foreground equity, we recognize that nonprofit web accessibility is a key component of creating a nonprofit sector that works for everyone. Earlier this year, I participated in virtual learning designer Sarah Stein Lubrano’s Accessibility Workshop, to kick-start thinking on how we can work with clients on improving nonprofit web accessibility, as well as that of our own resources. 

One of Stein Lubrano’s central points was that we must think about accessibility expansively, and focus on the many different ways people take in information and participate in meetings and discussions. We talked extensively about the need to think about inclusion more broadly and how we can make our digital communications both meet concrete standards of web accessibility, while also convenient, engaging and useful to the widest audience possible. 

Creating more accessible digital content is a journey, not a destination. There will always be room for improvement  — certainly, there are many things we need to do to continue to improve accessibility on our own site and in our own work. 

Creating more accessible digital content is a journey, not a destination. Click To Tweet

If you’re looking to increase web accessibility, I’ve compiled some resources and tools below to get you started. You can use these to kick off your journey to improving accessibility on your nonprofit’s website and in your meetings, and then continue to research how you can do more. If you have suggestions that we should add to the following list, you can share them with us on Facebook or Twitter

Tools to Start Making Your Nonprofit’s Digital Communications More Accessible

Visual Display and Contrast

  • Coblis — Color Blindness Simulator
    • This site allows you to upload your own images and check how they look when viewed by people who have various types of color blindness. If you tend to use color-coding to add meaning to your graphics and presentations, using a tool like this is critical. I make a lot of graphs and charts in my work, and I’ve started to run them through this simulator. 
  • Color Safe
    • You can take things one step further with Color Safe, and start your design from a place of accessibility. As the developers describe the tool, it’s meant “to help designers select color combinations that allow users to read their content regardless of different visual capabilities and screen resolutions.” Simply specify the background color, font, and text size and weight, and Color Safe will suggest text colors that will provide appropriate contrast based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.*
  • WEBAIM Contrast Checker
    • This is another tool that will help you improve the readability of your text for a wider range of site visitors by checking the contrast between the colors of your text and the background.  

Screen-Reader Accessibility

  • Berkeley Web Access: Top 10 Tips for Making Your Website Accessible
    • People who are blind or partially-sighted use screen-readers to navigate the Internet, and your site should be optimized for these tools. As this helpful guide explains, webpage elements like headers and alt text serve critical accessibility functions. If you’ve been thinking of these just in terms of what looks nice on the page or optimizing SEO, you are shortchanging some of your audience. Form fields and tables can also cause problems for screen-readers if they are not used correctly. (That’s an area we’ll be reviewing on our own site shortly.)  
    • This page also includes advice for making your site accessible to people who rely on a keyboard to navigate it and do not use a trackpad or mouse. 

Closed-Captioning

  • One of the things I learned from Stein Lubrano’s workshop is that a lot of tools already in common use in digital presentations have accessibility features that many of us may not be familiar with. For example, you can activate live closed-captioning when presenting Google Slides or Powerpoint presentations. Zoom also provides a live closed captioning and transcription feature, which can be saved as a transcript when a meeting is recorded. If you use other programs, a little research should reveal what similar options you have access to. While many programs have only rolled these features out in English so far (Powerpoint is a notable exception), I would expect that more language options will launch in the near future.  

Web Accessibility Checklist

  • There are many of these out there, but I find the one from The A11Y Project to be clearly laid out and navigable. 

We are still (and always will be) working to improve our own site’s digital accessibility and how we use accessible tools with our clients. If you’d like to suggest others for us to look into, please let us know on Facebook or Twitter

*A working draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 3.0 was released this January. The APCA Contrast Calculator appears to be more up-to-date with the newer guidelines, but you may find the website overwhelming if you are not chiefly a designer. Take a look at both and see what you can best use to improve the accessibility of your own materials.

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