What is website accessibility?
If a website or app is designed correctly everyone has equal access to the information and functionality. Web accessibility is the inclusive process of removing barriers that prevent access to or interaction with websites by people with disabilities.
For example when web content contains text descriptions of images and links named meaningfully this helps blind users using text-to-speech software and/or text-to-braille hardware. Larger fonts and larger images, which could be made larger are easier for poorly sighted individuals to read. Having large clickable link areas makes it easier for people with fine motor difficulties who have trouble controlling a mouse. Videos including a sign language version mean that deaf people are able to understand the video and using instructional illustrations may help people with cognitive difficulties.
Ultimately web accessibility aims to include visual, motor/mobility, auditory, seizures and cognitive/intellectual. If websites are built, developed and maintained correctly all of these users can be accommodated without impacting the usability of the website or app for non-disabled users.
In 1999 the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), this was updated in 2008. The WCAG is widely acceptable as the standard to achieve website accessibility.
So what exactly are the guidelines? In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 sets out guidelines making it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. The act applies to anyone providing a service, be that in the public, private or voluntary sectors, and the accompanying Codes of Practice document accompanying the Act makes it clear that websites are one of the services to the public which should be covered by the Act.
Within the EU a draft law endorsed by the European Parliament stated that all websites managed by public sector bodies have to be made accessible to all.
The WCAG 2.0 based upon a set of four principles:
- Information and user interface must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive
- User interface components and navigation must be operable
- Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable
- Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
Aside from legal compliance there is good reason to ensure your website is accessible. Accessible websites have access to the full range of the market, which is approximately 20% more than non-accessible websites. Greater exposure leads to greater opportunity for awareness of your business and ultimately sales. It can help to give your business the edge over competitors who do not currently have accessible websites.
So, how do you know if your website is accessible? The WCAG covers 65 testable criteria.
Having a website accessibility audit can be a good option to evaluate where you are today with your website and if you’re not already fully accessible, what you need to do achieve to become accessible.
Braille Translations Limited are specialists in accessibility and translations, who have been providing accessibility services since early 2000.
Until the end of April 2017 Braille Translations are offering a 25% discount off the price of any website or app audit. (Price dependent on website or app). The audit contains a full report of your website or app containing recommendations for action to be taken. To claim the 25% discount, call 0800 0190946 quoting reference MSDUK50351.