Web Accessibility: An Editor’s Guide

Website accessibility is an important consideration for people who work with websites—web designers, web developers, and accessibility consultants. But it’s also an important consideration for people who write and edit for the web.

The web accessibility standard in Ontario, Canada, is based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The guidelines consist of four principles that are broken down into 12 guidelines. The four principles of accessibility are at the foundation of the standard and dictate that websites must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

These principles are applied through 12 guidelines, two in particular that should catch the eye of people who edit for the web: readable and navigable. Making text readable is an integral part of what editors do in their role—making material accessible to whoever might be the intended audience.

Making text navigable might not fall as obviously under the domain of editors, but one type of editing—substantive/structural editing—concerns itself with just that. The substantive editor reorganizes information in such a way that the structure of the text contributes to its clarity.

There are a number of considerations specific to web users with disabilities that editors must take into account:

  •  HTML markup should be used in a way that is accurate and also fosters greater readability.
  • Editors should be aware of screen reader compatibility and other assistive technology.
  • Editors should also have an understanding of alternative text. This helps screen readers determine which words to say to describe an image.
  • Features such as heading tags, words instead of web addresses, and others also help facilitate reading online text and fall under the role of editors.

To read an article on the editor’s role in web accessibility, visit the Editors Toronto blog here