Optimising for the Blind: Alt-Text, URL’s, and Colour Blind Content

More visually-impaired audiences are using the internet than ever. Ofcom’s Research ‘Disabled users access to and use of the communication devices and services [2019]’ states of those surveyed 40% were shopping regularly on the internet, while 58% were using it to find information.[1]

We should be using inclusive marketing practices.

If they’ve clicked through, these audiences want to read your content. You want them to be able to.

Let’s talk inclusion.

Prep… what is inclusive marketing?

‘Inclusive marketing means being conscious of the myriad of audiences and perspectives in your marketing endeavours.’[2]

Keep in mind it is not only the marketing of information or products specifically targeted to visually impaired audiences, it is about allowing all experiences to be accessible to those with such a disability.

Now for some easy fixes which help the visually impaired while improving the overall performance of your content, too. There’s no excuses here.

Much of the content online (including what you’re reading now actually), is text based. This isn’t much of a problem for those who are visually impaired. Using a screen-reader, the text can be converted to audio, (or braille!) They can listen right away; but what about visual content?

Enter ‘Alt-Text.’

These descriptions are appended to visual content. Here, you’re effectively providing a text-based alternative to non-text-based content.

A picture of Big Ben’s clock, with vapor trails in the sky behind.

Here’s an image. See if you can check the Alt-Text I’ve appended.

It’s good for SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimisation to our non-marketers). If you’ve heard of it, that’s likely why.

Alt-Text not only makes your valuable content more accessible by appearing in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), but the extra depth which images offer your content now become relevant to visually impaired readers — There’s no loss of content here.

A tip: don’t just repeat what you’ve already told the reader. If the image offers something which isn’t described in the text, ensure you append it to the image as Alt-Text!

Now, a brief note on screen-readers… gives us some extra information on screen reading software… ‘If someone cannot view content from a screen, [screen readers] allow information to be announced in clear speech.’[4] There’s a range of paid and free choices. Popular packages include JAWS and NVDA.

So that’s Alt-Text. But what else can we do?

Make your URL ‘human-readable.’

If one of your valued readers happens to be visually impaired and uses a screen-reader to hear your URL, they aren’t going to find much use with ‘eight… seven… nine… question mark post equals five-’

… THAT is annoying even to read, let alone hear.

It’s an example of an alphanumeric URL, but it’s dreadful.

A URL which describes the content it leads to and has some relevant keywords is not only going to be of more use to the eyes and ears of your audience, but to your SERP ranking too. So it’s a pretty good move all-round.

Button! Button! Link 1,752!

The BBC published ‘Why much of the internet is closed off to blind people’ in 2019. They interview a 17-year-old Maysie Gonzales who, due to retinal cancer, lost her sight at two. She gives us insight into poorly optimised websites and we should listen.

‘“Sometimes it can be horrible, it depends on how the website has been set up,” says Gonzales. If a website’s digital infrastructure hasn’t been correctly labelled, a blind person can be met with a barrage of “button! — button! — button!” or “link 1,752! — link 1,752! — link 1,752!” from a hyperactive mechanical-sounding voice (belonging to a screen reader).’[6]

That doesn’t sound too good. Check the URL of this page, could it be improved?

Colour Blind Content

Before joining the team at, I interned with a marketing agency. Part of my job was to scout out upcoming fashion brands on Instagram and ask them if they needed help with their social media campaigns.

I remember one brand I found, who shall not be named, decided it would suit to embellish every page of their website in neon green with small, bright red text. For those who don’t know, red-green is the most common form of colour blindness.

Red text on a green background doesn’t mean they won’t be able to see the website at all, but it certainly won’t help. Marketers know how important it is to have a clear, visually appealing website to keep people on the page.

Not only does a colour combination of red and green give everyone a headache, if you can’t read it and attempt to by converting the colours to Grayscale, the text becomes invisible.[7] Sometimes it’s good to stick with black on white.

Extra: reveals that in Britain, approximately 4.5% of the population are colour-blind. They cite red and green colour-blindness as the most common form.[8]

So there’s three quick yet important tips on how to improve the experience you offer to the visually impaired (while tending to your SERP performance and website accessibility overall)… It’s a win-win. There aren’t any excuses this time.


[2] Husaria Marketing, ‘Accessibility and Inclusive Marketing for the Visually Impaired’, Medium.



[7] — Check the message rendered in Grayscale.