Accessible Website Design  

The idea behind designing a website that caters to the needs of people with different disabilities is simple. It focuses on creating websites that cater to the needs of people with disabilities, ensuring everyone can use your site comfortably. This includes features like adjustable text sizes, high contrast modes, and screen reader compatibility. For example, buttons could allow you to change the text size. There could be options to change the screen background and text colour, which neuro-divergents would find easier to read.

As far back as 2006, we ensured that every one of our websites had the following options:

  • Standard Size
  • Large Print
  • High Contrast (we used to call it dyslexia-friendly)
  • Text Only (No styling, fully screen reader-compatible for the visually impaired)

Could we not just skip the irrelevant stuff?

However, it is not just about providing a few alternatives like that; it is about providing other options, such as allowing someone using a screen reader to avoid having large parts of the website read out each time a page is visited. A screen reader is used by the visually impaired. The website is "read out" by assistive software such as JAWS or NVDA, and options to navigate the website are provided.

Can you imagine how wearisome it would be to have the entire website navigation read out each time before you could even access the main text on the page? To avoid this, we use Skip Links. These are hidden visually but are the first things that screen readers pick up on.

We always included the following access options:

  • Skip to Main Content (allowing screen readers to avoid reading out the navigation menu)
  • Skip to Site Map (allow screen readers to go straight to a list of all the pages on the website)

More recently, we have introduced a further skip link to allow people to skip straight to the website accessibility statement. This is usually hidden away at the bottom of the page and informs visitors of the limitations present on the website that may make it more difficult for disabled people to use. If you have a disability, it will be one of the first things you want to know, so we make it as easy as possible to access!

On some sites, we will have many more accessible options, such as:

  • Standard Size
  • Large Print
  • Extra Large Print
  • High Contrast
  • Text Only (No styling, fully screen reader-compatible for the visually impaired)
  • High Contrast (White on Black)
  • High Contrast (Blue on Yellow)
  • High Contrast (Yellow on Blue)
  • High Contrast (White on Grey)
  • High Contrast (White on Blue)
  • High Contrast (Dark Red on Orange)
  • Easy Read

Easy Read is a brand new accessible option that we developed in 2021 that we have not yet seen on another website. It allows the entire website to be displayed in an Easier-to-read format (using the simplest uses of words and sentence structure possible) at the touch of a button. You can see an example of a website that uses these options by following this link.

Accessibility also covers the readability of your site on different devices and screen sizes. Websites should perform exceptionally regardless of how they are being viewed. Our solution is known as ‘responsive accessible website design’ – this optimises your site’s content to any screen size on any device.

So an accessible website is one that is open to everyone, regardless of whether or not they are disabled and using adaptive technologies to access the net.

Why would you want it?

  • First – economics – open up your website to a huge market – taking into consideration registered disabilities, sight problems and old age, in excess of 40% of the UK’s population would benefit from accessible websites. The spending power of disabled people and their families in the UK in 2017 exceeded £249 billion so it makes economic sense to tap into this market.
  • Competition – In 2021, mobile devices account for 66% of all visits to websites. Therefore the content of websites needs to be easily accessible from mobile devices to ensure your site is reaching its maximum potential and keeping viewers interested and loyal to you, rather than your competitors.
  • Compliance – your website must be compliant with website standards – we don’t want to scare you but just consider that AOL got sued for an undisclosed amount (but reportedly in the $ millions) by the NFB (National Federation of the Blind) as their website wasn’t compatible with screen readers; therefore it was inaccessible to the blind. There were just over 10,000 lawsuits launched in the United States in 2020 and a similar number in 2021, against companies over the inaccessibility of their websites.

Guidelines to follow

Accessibility guidelines are set out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the specific guidelines for the accessibility of your website and content are called WCAG. Just to confuse you, W3C and WCAG guidelines sometimes contradict each other so it’s important that you seek professional advice from your website designer.

Checks you can do today

Consult your website designer to ensure your website:

  • Is compliant with accessibility guidelines and to make sure you are reaching as many customers as is possible.
  • Includes 'alt tags' on all images - this is a basic description of the picture. Visually impaired internet users often use screen reading technology to understand the images on the page.
  • Has easy navigation using sitemaps and good use of parent and child pages.
  • Uses a high contrasting colour palette with no clashing colours.

For more information on the different formats your site should be available in, please contact us at Access by Design.

What you must not do, under any circumstances!

Sadly, there are companies out there who make their profits by selling a solution that "fixes" the accessibility issues found on websites and many companies get fooled into buying these "solutions", believing that they will solve their problems.

They do not solve your problems. Ever. Instead, they make them far worse.

Follow this link about why accessibility solutions do not work.

Why Choose Us?

Since 2006, we have been pioneers in accessible web design, ensuring our websites are inclusive and user-friendly. Our services are tailored to meet the specific needs of your audience, enhancing user experience and compliance with accessibility standards.

A website dedicated to website accessibility audits

For more information on website accessibility, or if you would like to find out about an audit of your own website for accessibility, please visit our other website, Access by Audit. You will find a host of information about both website accessibility and website accessibility audits.