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Accessibility in AI: 4 Ways to Make Your Chatbot More Accessible

Elizabeth Zink
Feb 10, 2023

The internet is, by all means, a wonderland.

Any webpage you visit now is intricately built, teeming with robust graphics and colorful images. Anything you could possibly want is waiting for you behind the click of a mouse and we have all but come to expect this from our online experience. But what if you can’t see the screen? What if you can’t click the mouse or register those vibrant colors? To put it simply, what if your internet experience has limitations?

As more and more businesses turn to automation and begin implementing conversational AI it’s important to ensure that everyone can utilize your chatbot – regardless of ability. This means businesses need to ensure their chatbot is accessible.

So how can you make your chatbot more accessible? Here are five ways to make sure you can reach anybody and everybody.

1. Build with screen readers in mind

A screen reader is an assistive technology that takes written text and translates it into speech or braille. It’s primarily used by the blind or people who have limited vision. By making your chatbot accessible to screen readers you open your chatbot up to a few billion folks that would’ve been left out otherwise. There are several different versions of screen readers. Windows employs JAWS or NVDA, Apple has VoiceOver, and Android has TalkBack. The best way to make sure your chatbot is screen reader friendly is, simply, by testing it with a screen reader. Try to go through an entire user experience by just using the screen reader and see if the journey is easy or if there are places where you risk drop off. Few chatbot vendors make this process easy. Providing a screen reader friendly solution to your customers is easy with Pypestream. Our platform was built to work with every screen reader on the market.

2. High contrast colors

Everyone, at some point in their life, will come across text that practically blends into its background. Whether it’s due to a distracting pattern or the colors being too similar. With that said, this can occur to certain people more often than others. People who are colorblind and people with limited vision, in particular, tend to have difficulties differentiating colors when they’re too close to one another. So what’s the best way to ensure your text is visible to all? To keep things legible, it’s important to aim for a 4.5:1 ratio between your text color and your background color. This might be a tricky ratio to figure out but, luckily, there are websites that allow you to submit both your text and background colors in order to find out whether they contrast enough for all to see. ADA compliance and accessibility is a top priority for Pypestream. We seamlessly integrate with your branding while ensuring accessibility compliance to create a customer experience that is exceptional for all.

3. Using basic terms/avoiding technical jargon

The help you aim to provide your customer will be completely useless if they don’t understand the words you’re saying to them. For example, while some users might understand what an SMS message is, it’s generally safe to assume your wider audience does not. Terms like this muddy the waters and can lead to early drop off if not properly explained. Using basic terms is helpful on multiple fronts. They make the user experience simpler and they open accessibility to those who may have a lower reading level or those who don’t speak English as a first language. At Pypestream, we support 70 different languages to support your entire customer base.

4. Rich asset support

In addition to making your chatbot accessible via screen reader, it’s also important to make sure any rich assets you use can be enjoyed by all. This means including things like alternative text for images and subtitles for videos.

Alternative text allows screen readers to describe an image to someone who may not be able to see it. When adding alternative text to images it’s important to be clear and succinct and to describe the image accurately. You’ll want to ensure that the text is not too long, however. Long text can create a risk for drop off or negatively impact the customer experience.

Subtitles or captions for videos allow the deaf and hard of hearing to enjoy any videos you include in your chatbot. Captions should always be easily readable (the contrasting ratio we discussed earlier applies here too!), should include all words spoken, and, if necessary, should reference when a speaker is off screen. Not only do captioned videos help those who can’t easily hear but they’re also more likely to be viewed than videos without captions.

Accessibility should not be treated as an afterthought. Are you ready to explore options that keep accessibility top of mind? Contact Pypestream today.