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Website Accessibility  

How do you change the world?

Simple, one website at a time! Since we first realised in 2006 that most websites simply do not work well for disabled people, we have been on a mission to change that. Every time we would explain to people what website accessibility is, the penny would drop and they would never think about websites in quite the same way again but it was hard work! After Clive Loseby, the company owner, gave a TED Talk on website accessibility for disabled people in April 2022, it has made life slightly easier because now we have a 14-minute talk that covers all the basics! Please follow this link to watch Clive's TED Talk on Website Accessibility.

What is Accessible Website Design?

The idea behind designing a website that caters for the needs of people who have different disabilities is simple, in concept. It is about offering alternatives to make their experience of using a website more comfortable. There could be buttons that allow you to change the text size, for example. There could be options to change the screen background colour and the text colour, which neurodivergent 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 that would, for example, allow someone using a screen reader to avoid having to have large parts of the website read out each time a page was visited. A screen reader is used by someone who is 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 get to access the main text on the page? To avoid this, we make use of Skip Links. These are hidden visually but are the first things that are picked up by screen readers.

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 in 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 will want to know, so we make it as easy as possible to access it!

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 have 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 economical 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. Please follow this link for more information about why accessibility solutions do not work.

A brand new website dedicated to website accessibility

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

Access by Design. Accessible Websites, Beautifully Designed.
Outstanding Website Accessibility Audits.
Award-winning web design, Chichester.

Changing the World, One Website at a Time.

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