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What Does Web Accessibility Mean?

9. September 2009 22:26

Everyone has the right to use the internet regardless of whether they have sight problems, colour-blindness or other impairments, which is why the UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) also applies to websites.

This law applies to all websites and therefore you have a legal responsibility to ensure your website does not discriminate against disabled visitors to your site by anticipating the requirements of disabled people.

By not complying you open yourself up to criticism, bad publicity or even legal action!

What's involved?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a series of guidelines on Web Accessibility which the majority of web developers and designers should be aware of, but it is always worth confirming with your web developer that your site needs to meet at least priority level 1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 before any work is carried out.

Examples of Accessibility Scenarios

  1. Users should be able to resize text on a website to a comfortable level for reading, either through the appropriate web browser menu or using a facility on the website itself.
  2. Visitors with colour blindness should be able to read and understand a website regardless of the colour of the text, and therefore require a good contrast ratio between the text and the background colour.
  3. Blind visitors should be able to use screen readers (software programs that read the contents of the screen aloud to a user) or Braille devices to browse a website and understand its content.
  4. Users with seizure disorders, such as some types of epilepsy should have the ability to turn off any animation or effects that may trigger seizures.
  5. Individuals with memory impairments rely on consistent navigation to browse a website.
  6. People who cannot use a mouse for one reason or another should be able to use alternative methods such as keyboard shortcuts.
  7. Providing deaf visitors with transcripts of video and audio presentations.

8 Benefits of Accessible Websites

  1. Increased reach to disabled web users.
  2. More business from impaired customers or older people.
  3. Greater compatibility with handheld devices used for browsing the web, such as mobile phones.
  4. Faster loading websites and lower bandwidth costs.
  5. Cross-browser compatibility.
  6. Ability to promote your website as being accessible.
  7. Accessible website are generally search engine friendly.
  8. Compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.
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