In the UK, it is law that all bricks-and-mortar business must make reasonable adjustments to their premises to allow those with disabilities to access their services.
And whilst there have been no legal cases against a business for an inaccessible site, they are still expected to make reasonable adjustments.
In a digital age, it’s vital that business which are solely online make their websites as accessible as they can, just as they would need to do if they had a physical presence.
Not only is this the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. Excluding 2 million people because you omit important elements, or cut corners to speed up the web design process, will not only discriminate against those with disabilities, but also harm your business.
How can you make your website accessible?
Only use tables for tabular data
You may be tempted to think that accessibility is something only to be concerned about after the website has been developed, however that is not the case.
When developing your site, an easy way to align content is to stick it in a table and then hide the borders.
However, those with sight-loss using screen readers will have difficulty getting information from your site, as the screen reader will tell the user where exactly they are in the table.
For example, “Table with 30 rows and 2 columns”.
Alt tags are additional comments which can be written into any image which are usually hidden by web browsers.
Alt tags are incredibly important because screen readers will use the alt tag to describe the image to those with sight-loss.
If there is text in an image, then be sure to include this within the alt tag. If there is an infographic, then go into detail about what the infographic is showing.
If the image is purely for decorative purposes, then leave it blank.
A good example of an alt tag could be this:
A Venn Diagram with three intersection elements. People, Planet, and Profit. The intersection of People and Planet is Bearable. People and Profit is Equitable. Planet and Profit is Viable. All three is Sustainable.
Screen readers can scan webpages for links, and so displaying links as “Click Here” does not help.
Secondly, the text within the link (called Anchor Text) is also looked at by search engines when determining your ranking on their results.
Instead, use Anchor Text which describes the destination of the link.
For example, “You can take a look at our work on our Portfolio.”
Colours and Text
This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. Those with colour blindness often have difficulty reading images or text of certain colours, particularly if they are overlaid on top of another colour.
Here is a great resource which allows you to simulate colour blind abnormalities on your website.
Those with dyslexia may also have difficulty in reading information on your website, and often find it easier to read text when it is on an off-white background.
Pages with a lot of text should also be split up into manageable, easy-to-read sections. BBC News do this very well on their website.
One recent website which missed the mark on the use of colour was Network Rail. On the day the passing of Prince Philip passed away, Network Rail applied a greyscale filter to their website as a sign of respect.
Whilst they had good intentions, as a public service they should have known better.
It made the lives of those with visual impairments incredibly difficult, and even made headline news.
In a digital age, an inaccessible website can be just as much as a hindrance as an inaccessible shop. Whilst the law around public service websites is more strict, private businesses must still make reasonable adjustments to their websites. Making your website accessible is easy and is a win-win for all those involved.
If you need help in making your website accessible to a greater number of people, please do not hesitate to get in touch.