Website 'accessibility' is one of the buzzwords on the Internet right now and it refers to meeting a set of website design guidelines and standards that enable your site to be used by as wide a range of users as possible, including those with disabilities. There are a number of good reasons to make your website accessible, including:
- Having a truly accessible site means that you are taking into consideration how different groups, such as the visually impaired, may use the web and therefore ensures your site can be used easily by the maximum number of people.
- In many cases this will also result in your site being more usable and working consistently across a range of browsers.
- In the UK there are legal requirements outlined in the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) that websites are obliged to adhere to. The interpretation of this act in relation to websites is continually evolving and no case has yet been brought under UK law.
- An accessible site also indicates to your peers and potential clients or customers that you have an awareness of accessibility issues and are being actively inclusive.
Making your site accessible to users can vary in difficulty, depending on how your site was originally designed and its size and complexity. Websites which are designed with well structured HTML tend to present fewer problems than sites which rely heavily on graphics and 'tables' for their presentation.
There are a variety of reports and checklists that you can use to evaluate and improve your site's accessibility - the following resources were particularly useful:
- The Web Accessibility Initiative provides a large number of guidelines for different levels of accessibility, including their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which are the accepted international standard.
- The Cynthia website is an example of an online accessibility validation service that can test a site's pages to the above guidelines and the American section 508 standards.
If you would like to know more about how your website performs, we can offer a more detailed evaluation of your website's current situation and include recommendations on making your site accessible. This evaluation will identify aspects of your website which may discriminate against disabled users.
This evaluation will address some or all of the following areas, depending on your situation:
- Manual and automated tests of the website for accessibility against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
- Assessment of a range of usability issues, including any navigational issues
- An assessment of whether the website contravenes government set guidelines
- Site simplicity and consistency - how language and visual cues are used within a website
- Browser compatibility - how the website is viewed using different browsers
- Readability - colour schemes, text only versions and visual clarity
- Speed of download
- Font compatibility
- HTML and style sheet validation
If you would like us to implement a report on your site's accessibility, please contact us for more information and a quote, since the cost of this report will depend on the size and complexity of your site. Alternatively, request our FREE marketing assessment to get some ideas of how your business can take another step forward on the Internet.