An accessible website will attract potential deaf customers and it will promote your company in a positive light because it shows that you are aware and inclusive.
It’s surprising how many companies don’t actually provide reasonable contact details for deaf/HOH people and it makes life much more difficult for them. Here are my five tips for how to get the most from your website and ultimately attract a wider audience.
Some companies only provide a phone number, which is a deaf person’s worst nightmare! Most deaf people, like myself, cannot hear well on the phone, so we are always looking for other means of contact. There are so many other contact methods. For example: email, Skype, online forms or live webchat. Here is a great example of one company doing it right.
It really bothers me when there aren’t subtitles on videos, especially on websites, because I can’t follow them. I’m a lip reader and often can’t hear what is being discussed on videos. Automated live streaming captions are often accurate – including Youtube’s automatic captions. If accurate captions aren’t option for videos, try providing a written transcript. Perhaps consider sign language videos too.
Avoid using jargon and use words that would likely be spoken by your target community. For some deaf people, English isn’t their first language (Sign Language might be). Keep to the point. If you’re advertising a service or product, think what is the key information you want people to know? Use simple short sentences. Images also help to illustrate the topic.
Social media is a great way to reach out to new customers. Promote your social media icons on your webpage (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Deaf people love to engage on social media, particularly if they have a reason to get in touch with your company. Make sure if you do have social media channels, that you are engaging with the customers who reach out to you!
When designing a website, make sure people can get to the information they need within a few clicks and that it’s easy to navigate. For some deaf people, they may find it hard to find what they want, so it’s important that navigation is straightforward. Perhaps include a search button on your page.
Have any other tips or suggestions for making a website more user-friendly for deaf people? Share them in the comments!