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ADA compliance is one of the most important pieces to a website in 2018. As marketers, event planners and coordinators, it’s important to make sure that EVERYONE is able to access all of the awesome things we create – both in person and online. However, accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do, it also affects your business. Over 7,500 businesses have faced ADA-related litigation, and this number is growing. Luckily, so is our understanding of what we need to do to provide great online experiences for everyone alike!
What does it mean and why do we need it?
ADA compliance is about making your website accessible to EVERYONE. In theory, this sounds simple, but in practice it can be a bit confusing. That’s why it’s best to get started with compliance before your website is even built. Here at Saffire, we keep ADA Compliance in mind from the very beginning.
Why? Think about this: Nearly 1 in 5 Americans have a disability. Since the internet is used for all kinds of important things these days, like registering for services or paying bills online, it’s important that every member of our society has the same access to things they need. Plus, it makes it much easier for them to find information about your organization!
Here are the first six steps to making your website ADA compliant:
- Write Better Link Text
Each link should make sense when read by itself. Provide context and avoid using phrases like “click here” or “continue.” Instead, say things like “read the article” or “tickets here.” Avoid long URLs, and if an image is the only thing within a link, make sure it has ALT text! Which brings us to…
- Use ALT Tags for Images
Add meaningful ALT tags to important images. That means images like logos (especially if they lead to your homepage), images that are links, images used as placeholders for text, or any other image that adds context to a page. The ALT tag gives context to people who can’t see the image, so make sure it makes sense! How can you tell if you have good ALT tags? Describe the image and get specific! What is happening in the photo? Who or what is in it? Where are they? Don’t repeat phrases you’ve already used in the text or caption, and don’t begin with phrases like “image of” or “in this image.” Take time to learn how to place and write good ALT tags. They’re important!
- Think About the Page Structure
People use your page design as a guide to find information on your website, so build your pages in ways that make sense. Utilize headers, bullets, blockquotes, and other ways of organizing your information. Always start your page with an H1 tag and follow the hierarchy for the rest of the headers (H1 > H2 > H3 > H4, etc.)
- Test Your Colors
Did you know that color blindness affects 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women? Together, that makes up more than 25 million people with color blindness in the U.S. alone. To make sure that color blind people can still understand everything on your website, it’s important that color is not the only tool used to organize information. Test your site using a free tool like the webAIM contrast checker to make sure your web pages are up to par.
- Caption and Transcribe All Videos
Every video or audio piece must have both captions and a transcript to be ADA compliant. Luckily, many tools like YouTube and Facebook now allow users to add captions to videos. Don’t forget to include a separate area to describe what is happening in the video, and always make sure that the video is accessible by mouse, keyboard and screen readers!
- Test Your Site
The best way to know for sure if your site is accessible? Test, test, test! There a few free tools online that can help you test the accessibility of each page within your site. Our favorite is WAVE. It can get a little pricey to check your whole website at once but testing sites like PowerMapper can help you get there.
Remember, accessibility is the law, but that’s not the only reason it’s important! Accessibility affects millions of people. Meeting compliance standards is a sure way to provide the best user experience for everyone.
Saffire is very excited to announce Joy Whitman as one of its newest team members. Joy hails from Hutchinson, Kansas, a city not too far from Wichita. However, Joy says she is a Texan at heart, growing up in a small town near another Wichita–Wichita Falls–which true Texans know as “just Wichita.”
Joy served as Convention Services Manager for the Wichita Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau before moving to Kansas in 2005. In Kansas, she worked as the Association Sales Manager for a convention center in Hutchinson. For the past 12 years, she served in various roles at the Kansas State Fair, with the latest being the fair’s marketing director.
Joy says she has already had great experiences in her position as Client Experience Manager for Saffire. She will put her background in CVB, venues and state fairs to use as she helps our clients every day.
When Joy isn’t solving problems across the nation, she spends time on her Harley with her husband and four children – all of whom love to ride the highways. Other hobbies include pumping iron in the gym, along with fishing, hunting and enjoying the outdoors.
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The Saffire Team is so excited to welcome our newest team member Thema Reed to the fold! Thema (pronounced Tay-mah—she says like “Taylor” but with “ma” at the end!) is dedicated to connecting with the Saffire family and sharing all the fun and helpful things Saffire has to offer.
Thema is the third person to join the Saffire team from Albuquerque, New Mexico (shout out to Jessica C. and Austin!). She is taking on the role of Marketing Manager and joins Saffire with 3 years of communications and digital marketing experience working on social media, content marketing, PR and communication strategy for nonprofits. Before that, she was a Journalism major at Howard University, where she interned in many D.C. newsrooms, including CNN, C-SPAN and WUSA. Thema will be working her writing and editing magic all over Saffire’s marketing efforts!
When she’s not writing all the things, Thema enjoys exploring Austin with her husband and two big fur babies, doing yoga outside and eating lots of tacos.
To learn more about Saffire, Thema or just to say “hey,” feel free to email Thema directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/themareed/. We hope you can meet her in person at a conference or future Saffire Summit!
Can you smell the cotton candy, turkey legs and funnel cakes cookin’ yet? Fair season is right around the corner and (besides the food) that means lots of new ways to wow visitors. New and exciting experiences at your event are one of the best ways to keep people coming back each year. Although event trends can be as hard to pin down as the giant stuffed bear prize at the fair, this year Saffire has you covered.
Here are five ways to take things to the next level and make your event a success!
- Getting Active
If last year was all about getting your crowd to whip out their smartphones, this year is about encouraging participants to put down their phone, be in the moment and move their body. Whether it’s pop-up dance parties or yoga in the midway, getting active can be a memorable way to help visitors connect with the sights around them and burn off all those corndogs. For really athletic fair-goers, offer a chance to get competitive. The Tulsa State Fair is taking on the trend by challenging participants to a 5k run around the fairgrounds, and at the Fort Bend County Fair & Rodeo visitors can fish to win over $6,500 in prizes. For people who are more interested in doing their own thing, walking tours are a great way to get moving and see all the fun things to do at your event.
- Local Pop-ups
Fairs, festivals and other local events are celebrations of all the great things your area has to offer. Encourage your visitors to immerse themselves in local culture by creating pop-up shops and experiences that are full of local flavor. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be just food! Partner with local favorites to create fun experiences like mini-museums, craft making areas or experimental dining (blindfolded beer tasting anyone?). By creating fun experiences with local businesses, you can create a sense of place and remind everyone why you love your community!
- Virtual Participation
Tech interaction is far from over at events. This year, trendy event coordinators are mixing tech interaction with real-world experiences. That means that instead of just using things like hashtags and Instagram-worthy photo-ops, events can take interaction to the next level by creating fun activities like phone-guided tours and real-time voting via apps or text message. Even something as simple as introducing online ticketing can be a big boost for visitor experience.
- Engaging the senses
Food! Lights! Music! If there’s one thing fairs understand, it’s the power of your five senses. There are so many things to see, taste and hear that visitors can always find something to keep them entertained. What if we cut the noise and allowed visitors to fully immerse themselves in one sense for a memorable experience that they’ll always associate with your event? How can we do that in an area that is already so engaging? Silent discos are a popular choice popping up in the festival scene that allow visitors to groove to their own music and drown out the rest of the party. Paint lounges can allow attendees to let out their inner Picasso and relax. Psychologists agree that targeting our five senses is one of the quickest ways to create lasting memories, so get creative with ways to engage senses and visitors could remember your event forever.
- Personalized Experiences
In case you haven’t heard, Gen Z and millennials LOVE personalization. That’s why this trend has been taking over the marketing world for the past few years, and now it’s taking over events. It’s not enough to just add names to emails and merchandise anymore. It’s all about creating personal itineraries that can help guests find things to do that they’ll love. Got a killer art show, craft beer lounge and a concert from an up-and-coming indie band that your hipster crew will love? What about a Ferris Wheel, winery and local ice cream stand that are what first date dreams are made of? Create some custom itineraries, stick them on a Plan Your Visit page – or in a welcome bag, or at the ticket counter – and ta-da you have some personalized experiences that millennials will love you for!
Whether you’re promoting your fair, festival or networking event this fall, fun unexpected ideas are sure to stick with your attendees. Keeping up with trends can be a lot of work, but with the right methods, they are sure to pay off!