An exciting challenge!
Nottingham Disabled People's Movement are a campaigning charity that promotes the cause of greater accessibility for everyone, focusing on the Nottinghamshire area.
The organisation is run by disabled people and it is for disabled people. We were contacted by them a while ago, they had been looking for a new website and had found us on Google. Their previous website, whilst fully meeting the needs of blind people to a very high level, did not meet the visual expectations of sighted visitors to the website.
We love projects like these. When we started in business 14 years ago, we chose the name Access by Design because we wanted to prove to the world that it is possible to have a website that is both visually attractive and meets the needs of people with disabilities.
When we design and develop websites, we are always aware that we are looking to meet the needs of many people. It’s not just about people with disabilities, it is about people who use the Internet in different ways. I often talk about visitors to websites being split into three roughly equal sizes: desktop computers, tablets and mobiles. Our server statistics show this to be the case right across the board, regardless of the type of business.
However, it is not just about that, blind people use desktop PCs, tablets and mobiles, it is just that the way they use them is different to how most people use them. This means that we have to take all of these demands into consideration when designing and building our websites.
Our websites all have our standard Accessibility options. All our websites have got a Large Text Version, a High Contrast Version, a Plain Text version and a Printer Friendly version. They also lay out in five different ways according to the screen size: Desktop, Tablet (Portrait and Landscape) and Mobile (Portrait and Landscape)
We are always looking to learn!
One of the things that occurred during the development of the website, was the realisation that the latest versions of some screen reader software now interpret websites differently to how they did previously. This meant we had to make some fundamental changes to what we do, to ensure that skip links were available to everybody.A skip link, by the way, is something that is read out via a screen reader when you first access a website. It allows you to quickly navigate to the main part of a web page or a Site Map. A Site Map is an Index of every page on a website and is often used by visually impaired visitors to navigate quickly round a website. You can see this in practice if you visit the NDPM website and press the tab key. You should see a link to “jump to main contact area followed by “jump to site map “before then going on to highlight all the other elements of the website.
I have blogged previously about the challenges thrown up when we came to training our clients at NDPM in managing the website themselves. They use screen readers which read out loud through the computer speakers exactly what is on the webpage. However, editing the site with a screen reader appeared to be okay until we discovered that the default visual mode of the WordPress editor was completely unreadable by a screen reader! We solved the problem by helping them switch to text mode and from then, on their screen reader worked fine.
Pride in our work
I am so proud of this website. We have always striven to live up to our name. Strong, attractive, disability-friendly websites that work for as many different types of people as possible. We have really enjoyed working with NDPM, we are always open to the opportunities to raise our game. This has been a challenging project but one that we have found to be extremely satisfying and it has a fundamental impact on the way we design websites. The idea that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks does not apply to us! I hope you get a chance to have a look at this website, whether through a screen reader or visually. Here is the link to it: https://ndpm.org.uk/
We felt honoured to have been found by NDPM and to then be engaged by them in developing this website.
The Equality Act
You may or may not be aware but websites fall under the Equality Act and actually having a website that aims to be accessible for everybody is a legal requirement. I always stress the importance of having a website that allows people to do business with you, regardless of their ability or disability, It does not make economic sense for a sector of the general public to not be able to do business with you.
I sum all this up in a single sentence: Google is blind, if your website works well for blind people, it will work really well for Google!
Can we help you?
If you would like to talk to us about how we may be able to help you in making your website more accessible to more people then please do get in touch by calling us on (01243) 776399 or emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clive Loseby, Access-By Design, award-winning Web Design Chichester.