Most people don't give surfing the web a second thought. It is generally quick and easy to achieve what we set out to do.
But for people with disabilities the experience can be very frustrating and even ostracising.
What is web accessibility?
"Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web… [so that ] people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web."
Why is it important your website is accessible?
According to the Office for Disability Issues there are "over ten million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability in Great Britain". Not an insignificant number.
There are two key reasons why you should make your website as accessible as possible:
- In the UK it is law for a website owner to make reasonable steps to make their website accessible.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) states that every website owner is obliged to try and ensure their website is accessible to people with disabilities; the blind, deaf and those with motor disabilities.
- Ensure your potential audience is as large as possible.
Imagine someone walking up to your shop front, trying to open the door, but finding that it's locked. But through the glass they can see other people happily shopping inside. Not only would this be very frustrating for a potential customer, it also damages the perception of your brand.
Your website has a potentially huge audience, so make sure it is accessible to as many of those visitors as possible.
How your website can be made more accessible
- Design your website with enough colour contrast.
- Make sure your website works with screen readers.
- Enable a user to navigate your site without using the keyboard.
- Describe what is contained within an image by using alternative text.
- Link form labels with the corresponding form field.
A belief that one is a valued member of society derives partly from a feeling of inclusiveness. In the digital age, inclusiveness means being able to surf the web with as few barriers as possible.
This is reflected in UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which states that countries need to "...identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers and ensure that persons with disabilities can access their environment, transportation, public facilities and services, and information and communications technologies."
Attitudes are changing. Can you afford to turn away customers and risk the reputation of your brand?
- Check My Colours - Colour contrast checker
- W3C - Introduction to Web Accessibility
- Guiding principles of the UN Convention on disabilities