If you want to have an accessible website built, where do you begin?  

on February 7, 2024 at 7:39am |Updated on February 8, 2024 at 4:37pm A cluster of beautiful yellow flowers set against a blue sky with wisps of cloud

Creating a website that's accessible, to all users is a step in promoting inclusivity and ensuring equal access to digital content.

However when it comes to building a website from scratch, careful planning, adherence to practices and dedication to accessibility standards are essential.

Lets delve into the steps and considerations involved in constructing a website right from the beginning.

Getting Familiar with Accessibility Standards and Guidelines

The initial step towards building a website is getting acquainted with accessibility standards and guidelines.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.2) established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) serve as the benchmark for web accessibility.

WCAG provides a framework that outlines principles, guidelines and success criteria for developing web content.

By familiarizing yourself with WCAG you ensure that your website aligns with recognized accessibility standards thus enabling access for all users.

Conducting an Accessibility Evaluation

Before diving into the design and development phase it's crucial to conduct an evaluation of the accessibility of your website (if applicable) or your planned design prototypes.

An accessibility evaluation helps identify barriers and potential challenges that might hinder access for individuals, with disabilities.
To ensure that your website is accessible, to users with disabilities it is important to utilize evaluation tools, manual testing methods and assistive technologies. These measures will help assess the accessibility of your website across dimensions, including navigation, content structure, multimedia elements, forms and interactive components.

Consider involving experts and consultants in the field of accessibility who have experience in designing websites. Their expertise can provide insights and recommendations throughout the design and development process. They can guide you in implementing practices overcoming accessibility challenges and ensuring compliance with standards and regulations.

Integrating accessibility into every stage of the website design and development process is crucial. From conceptualizing ideas to wireframing coding to testing – adopt a user centered design approach that prioritizes inclusivity and enhances user experience for people with all abilities. Make sure to incorporate design principles such as navigation structures, descriptive headings, semantic HTML markup for better understanding by assistive technologies like screen readers or braille displays. Additionally ensure keyboard accessibility options are available along with color contrast ratios for impaired users.

When including images or multimedia content, on your website it's important to provide text descriptions. These descriptions will enable individuals who cannot see the visual content to understand its context and meaning effectively.

To make sure that everyone can access the content it's important to provide text (alt text) for all images and multimedia elements.

Alt text acts as a substitute, for individuals who're unable to see visual content, such as those with visual impairments or those who use screen readers.

In order to ensure comprehension and accessibility for all users it's crucial to describe the content and context of each image in an accurate manner.

When it comes to website navigation keyboard accessibility is key for users who rely on keyboard input or assistive technologies.

Make sure that all interactive elements, links and form controls can be easily accessed and operated using the keyboard without requiring mouse input.

Implementing focus management is also essential. This means ensuring that keyboard users can navigate through the content in an intuitive way. It's important to maintain a focus order and provide visual indicators for focus states.

Conducting user testing sessions and gathering feedback are steps in validating accessibility.

Involving users with disabilities in usability tests allows you to gain insights into their experiences, preferences and challenges when interacting with your website.

Seek feedback, from user groups well incorporating their input into iterative improvements of accessibility and usability.

User testing helps identify usability issues, accessibility barriers and areas where refinement is needed. This enables you to build an user friendly website.
Providing Documentation and Training for Accessibility

It is crucial to document the accessibility features, guidelines and best practices of your website to ensure consistency and facilitate efforts, towards accessibility.

Comprehensive documentation should include accessibility statements, coding guidelines and support resources for developers, designers and content creators.

Additionally offering training and educational resources will empower team members with the knowledge and skills to effectively create and maintain web content.

In conclusion

Building a website requires an effort that involves a commitment to best practices from various stakeholders. By understanding accessibility standards conducting audits involving accessibility experts in the process, integrating accessibility into design and development stages, providing text for images and multimedia, implementing keyboard navigation and focus management, conducting user testing
and gathering feedback as well as providing comprehensive documentation and training on accessibility,
you can develop an inclusive, user friendly website that is accessible to all individuals.

Make sure to prioritize accessibility as a core value in your web development endeavoursto contribute towards creating an environment that's equitable and inclusive for people of all abilities.

We have been actively building websites since 2006.
In fact we were pioneers in creating the and mobile friendly website on the web back, in 2011.

We have been continuously working on this since.If you're interested, in creating a website that's easy to use for everyone then join us on this journey. We are experts in designing websites that're accessible to all.

Image description; A majestic kestrel with its wings spread wide soaring gracefully in the sky against a backdrop of skies and sunlight peeking through clouds.

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Clive Loseby

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