6 Ways to Make Your Website Accessible for the Hearing Impaired

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When we think of website accessibility, we often think of visual impairments — after all, websites are a visual medium. However, doing this not only falls short of accessibility standard guidelines, but it also ignores the ever-changing nature of how we design and use websites.

Things like video and video content are increasingly common marketing tools, which can easily pose a barrier for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals when not dealt with correctly. In this article, we will explore the ways in which web designers and companies can make sure that their online content can be enjoyed by those with hearing impairments. 

Aim for All-Round Accessibility

The single easiest way to make sure that your website is accessible for deaf people is to make sure it is accessible by everyone. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, published by the Web Accessibility Initiative, outline the global standards to which all websites should adhere. 

Get to Know Your Captions

If your website or social media platforms feature video content, you need to make sure that it is properly captioned. First, it helps to understand the difference between closed captions and subtitles. Captions provide a description of the whole audio, including things like background music and noises; subtitles are a translation of the dialogue. When thinking of hearing-impaired accessibility, it’s closed captions you want to provide. 

You need to start with a transcript of your audio. While you can write it out yourself, this is a time-consuming task, especially for longer content. There are automated transcription services you can hire for a reasonable fee to do the job for you, and many have quick turnaround times and will provide caption files for you in minutes.

If you have content on YouTube, you may assume that their own automated captions will do the trick. However, YouTube’s captions aren’t always accurate, so you should check and edit them if needed; thankfully, Google provides documentation on how to do this.

Use Simple Language

According to Psychology Today, an aspect of deafness that is often overlooked is that, for many deaf people, English is their second language. ASL is what they primarily use to communicate, and it’s rules are completely different from any written language. When writing website content, keep things simple. Even if you’re not writing for a global audience, write as if you want to be understood by someone whose first language isn’t English. 

Offer Various Communication Channels

Many companies just list a phone number in their “Contact Us” section, which immediately prevents deaf people from contacting them. Offer a range of options, including written ones. According to Business Insider, consumers are moving away from traditional communication channels like the phone in favor of solutions such as chatbots and social media. 

Write Good Social Media Captions

Later.com outlines the keys to a good Instagram caption as a killer first line, a strong “Call to Action,” a consistent brand voice, and add-ons like hashtags, emojis, and line breaks. When it comes to any social media captions for videos, add “context” to that list. In order to be enjoyed by the hard-of-hearing, your caption should engage and entertain, but also provide information on what is actually happening in the video.  

Stay Away from Autoplay

Given the rage it generates in countless users, most companies and web designers should have phased out autoplay audio by now. In fact, major browsers even have defined policies to prevent it, such as Google Chrome blocking non-muted autoplay. However, if you need another reason to not have automatic sounds on your website, consider the deaf user who may not realize they are playing that sound in public. 

As you can see, many of the points above are actually the best practices for web design on the whole. The more accessible a website is, the easier it is to use for everyone. Take the time to make your website and social media accessible for people with hearing impairments, and you will be left with an overall better online presence. 

Starting a Business? Four Ways to Pursue Entrepreneurship as a Disabled Parent

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Life is all about balance. We juggle our responsibilities and do the utmost to lead our best life. If you happen to be a parent with a disability, trying to start a business may seem daunting. Thankfully, it does not have to be, and there are ways you can bring your dream into reality.

 

Explore Options

You may already have a business in mind. However, do not discount the possibility of choosing an area of focus where there may be an opening for a startup. Home-based businesses are potentially ideal, as these can eliminate a lot of startup costs and allow you to care for your child. Depending on your disability, it may also be more practical in terms of transportation. There are a lot of options when it comes to home-based businesses.

Creative pursuits such as crafting and jewelry making can be excellent choices while consulting is another option. A home-based business can still keep you active, as the scope of your startup may still take you elsewhere. For example, you could run a dog boarding or dog walking business. This is an excellent choice, as you could approach friends and relatives, to begin with. It’s a business, too, that is adaptable to life’s commitments, and therefore advantageous for parents.

 

Create a Plan

The key to any successful business is knowing what you want from it. Without a clear idea about your needs and goals, it’s easy to get sidetracked and see a startup flounder. Your plan is the foundational structure of your business. You can consult with it whenever you are in doubt, and use it to remind yourself of progress and of accomplished milestones.

As parents, planning can be beneficial, too, as it is easy for life to get in the way. With a coherent vision, you can advance your business at a pace that you are both comfortable with. Detail your needs, ingoing and outgoing goals, time-sensitive objectives, branding, and marketing ideas. By putting in a timeline that best suits your specific necessities, you can take away some of the stresses of starting up a business, and guide your startup along a prepared, organized path.

 

Resourcing

Funding comes in many forms, from grants to loans. You may be eligible for federal assistance in starting up your business. Look to the Small Business Association and search for what sort of funding might be available. In terms of expenses, you may be eligible for assistance based on your disability. This could go a long way to freeing up some funds for your startup. Additionally, consult with disability organizations that may have advice for people starting up a small business.

Regional funding at state or local levels might also be available, and some may have a specific focus on providing support to disabled entrepreneurs. Depending on the nature of your business, you may be eligible for further funding from specific governmental departments. For instance, the US Department of Agriculture provides funding for farm-situated projects, like renewable energy and marketing.

 

Investigate Support

There are numerous resources beyond government and other funding that may help give your startup a leg up. Research if there are any business events or seminars as these may be able to provide networking opportunities and valuable information. Some may offer programs to explore various areas of business, such as marketing, outreach, and public relations. You may even be able to go through a mentorship that can provide more individualized guidance.

Organizations supporting the disabled community may themselves hold similar events. Such seminars may be particularly advantageous, as you could have the chance to speak with other disabled entrepreneurs and use their experiences to apply to your own startup. Do not hesitate to engage with local communities as your business approaches fruition. By attending events, not only could you acquire valuable strategies, but you may find it a perfect way to network with fellow entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be exciting and scary in equal measure. Give your enterprise its best chance by thoroughly researching what type of business you want, finding out what funding you are eligible for and networking as much as possible. This is your chance to fulfill your business dreams.