Accessible content is clear, consistent, and easy to navigate — something everyone will appreciate.

A black and white illustration of a content writers desk from above. There’s notepads, a keyboard, a mug, and a mouse in front of a computer monitor.

Writing accessible content means following best practices with a few additions.

Make it understandable.

Everyone prefers writing that’s easy to understand, whatever their education and abilities. Writing to meet accessibility standards is not that different from writing for a general audience.

To write for accessibility, we pay closer attention to language and structure, along with how screen readers decode text. The words we choose can ease navigation, help images serve their purpose, and aid page scanning.



Practices that can improve content:

  • Minimize the use of italics and all caps for improved readability.
  • Specify the meaning of acronyms and abbreviations on first use.
  • Avoid jargon and idiomatic expressions, which can make writing less clear.
  • Avoid uncommon word construction that screen readers will have difficulty interpreting. Ironically, screen readers can’t read the common shorthand for accessibility (“A11y” would read as “a + 1 + 1 + y”).
  • Use descriptive and meaningful page titles, headings, and bulleted lists to assist visitors with scanning text.



Accessible language is content that all visitors can easily understand. Make every word count. Copy should be clear, concise, and consistent.

A best practice is to aim for a reading level of Grade 8 when speaking to general audiences. If writing for an expert audience, aim for the most appropriate educational level.

When developing complex content, including supporting materials such as a text summaries, visual illustrations, or audio files can help to improve understanding.

For clarity, keep it active. Avoid passive voice sentence structure that makes the subject a recipient of a verb’s action. (e.g. “John was forced to quit his job.” (passive) vs. “The manager forced John to quit his job.”(active)).

Keep your sentences short and to the point. Replace technical jargon with everyday terms people understand.



A clear structure and heading hierarchy help visitors to scan and digest information.

Develop your content in short blocks and assign headings to each section for clarity.

Ensure that content is understood without the aid of visuals.

Provide context for visitors when describing an action or instruction. Avoid using vague, directional instructions such as “see below.”

Even text alignment makes a difference in ease of reading. It is a best practice to use left-aligned text for left-to-right languages and vice-versa.

Headings work to create a page outline and are an important tool for people using assistive technology to understand the content.



When writing copy for buttons and labels, write descriptively to provide context. Avoid terms like “click here” and “read more,” in favour of those that describe what will happen upon clicking. Use verbs that provide context and do not solely describe the process (e.g., “donate now”).



Screen readers and search engines can’t interpret non-text content, such as images. Providing a textual substitute or alt text (alternative text) offers visitors the missing context.

Make alternative text short and describe the image’s function on the site (e.g. “Office workers speaking on telephones at their desks” for a website page talking about companies that are hiring more employees.). Note that the same image might have a different description on another page if it illustrates something else.

When an image is purely decorative, include a phrase such as “no alt text.”.



Visualization tools help visitors to understand the insights and story behind data. Be sure to include a descriptive title, a detailed text summary of the data insights, axis labels, and alt text.


Videos & Animation

Include captions and transcripts for all video content. Having audio files available in writing aids visitors who can’t hear, or who prefer to consume the information at their own pace, or in silence.

Be careful about auto-captioning on video platforms, as it can be inaccurate. Always review your captioning and edit for clarity.

Content community resources

The community

External Link

Creator: Rikki Poynter

Rikki makes deaf and accessibility/closed captioning awareness content on YouTube. She advocates for making YouTube (video content) a better, more accessible experience, and for accessible mental health care.