5 Accessibility Best Practices for Your Deaf and Hard of Hearing Audience

by and

May 12, 2022

Trends and Insights 4 min read

5 Accessibility Best Practices for Your Deaf and Hard of Hearing Audience

A study on the top 1 million websites revealed that 96.8% of home pages had Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 failures. This is merely a slight improvement from the recorded 97.8% in 2019.

No wonder 42.3% of people with disabilities think that web content accessibility has remained unchanged.

Over 5% of the world’s population (around 466 million people) has disabling hearing loss. By 2050, it’s estimated that this number will grow to 900 million. This makes it necessary for IT specialists to innovate web content that’s seamlessly accessible to this audience group.

It’s crucial to provide the right facilities for every user on your website. This isn’t only to conform to industry standards, it’s just the right thing to do.

Explore these digital accessibility tips to boost your website’s page experience for your deaf and hard of hearing visitors.

Understanding Hearing Disabilities

Deafness, hearing loss, hard of hearing, or hearing impairments are collectively defined as auditory disabilities. According to the National Association of the Deaf, a hearing disability primarily depends on two key factors – degree of hearing and relative age of onset.

Based on this, there are three main types of hearing disabilities:

Deaf with a “D"

Communicates using sign language

Deaf with a “d"

Refers to those who become deaf later in life

Hard of Hearing (HoH)

Refers to people with some but not complete hearing loss

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5 Ways to Improve Your Website’s Accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Users

Offer multiple contact options

Customer support plays a crucial role in helping a business raise its bookings and promote repeat purchases. Great customer service is a key business asset in strengthening customer relations and fostering brand loyalty.

If you’re not catering to the deaf and hard of hearing population, you’re missing out on a significant opportunity. Not to mention that the inconvenience will put your brand in a bad light.

Be sure to provide them with several means to contact you. Other than via phone calls, present options such as online forms, emails, live chats and others.

Add captions and subtitles

It goes without saying that audio and videos are a challenge for deaf and hard of hearing people. This is the first issue you should resolve to cater to their needs.

Ensure that your videos have accurate subtitles and captions, including descriptions of non-spoken sounds. This refers to everything from laughter cues, song lyrics, applause, etc.

Although the free automated video captioning can be pretty accurate, remain meticulous. Check and confirm whether the lines are correct and if it shows up at the right timestamp.

Apart from these, you can also consider providing a written transcript or sign language videos.

Provide an audio and video transcript and description

Reading through captions and subtitles requires you to watch through the entire duration of an audio or video file. Users who are short on time won’t bother with them and will opt for other sources, especially your deaf and hard of hearing visitors. You’ll lose significant potential leads with this issue.

Provide a comprehensive transcript along with your videos and audios. This enables them to directly draw significant resources and statements from your content. This also gives them the option to just read through the copy instead of pressing play.

You should also include descriptions so they have an overview of what your video or audio is all about. This can include a brief summary or a list of highlights of what they can expect. This ensures that they know what value or topic the clip is going to present.

Use simple English with structured content

Over a billion people worldwide have English as their second language. This tip will benefit a bulk, if not all, of your audience groups.

Prioritise using English as the main language content on your website. Use simple and concise sentences without too much jargon. Your content should also display high-quality and relevant images to make it clear and engaging.

Also, apply clear content structure with proper headings, easy-to-read text blocks, and listicles to make it easier to skim through your copies. Otherwise, users won’t hesitate to drop out of your website.

Have a mobile-friendly website

The latest mobile technologies such as smartphones and smartwatches are instrumental for people with hearing problems. These devices are extremely helpful in navigating online and curating or generating information.

mobile responsive website

Optimise your website for mobile access. It should easily adapt to different screen sizes and allow for a seamless user experience on all devices. Allow users to enlarge your content with screen magnifiers without ruining the page’s format. This benefits not only the deaf and hard of hearing but also those who have some form of visual difficulty.

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User Experience — Key to Accessibility

Besides not missing out on massive traffic potential, it’s a legal responsibility and moral imperative to provide easy accessibility to people with disabilities. This is especially applicable in digital spaces where it’s easy to disregard who might be on the end user’s side.

When you focus on bettering your website for the deaf and hard of hearing people, you’ll be among their go-to resources. They’ll most likely do business with you since you have the facilities that work for them.

All the tips mentioned above are rooted in your website’s user experience quality. Even when you implement all means to be accessible, a poor-performing website would undercut their efficiency. Aim to have the right tools and resources for a fast-loading website as well.

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