Due to the updates in the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018, there is a greater need for transparency concerning website accessibility. This can most easily be met by complying with the WCAG 2.1 Guidelines. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 explain how to make websites accessible for all. The guidelines are written by accessibility specialists, volunteers and disabled people at the World Wide Web Consortium W3C. In this blog, we will outline why DDA compliance is important, what the WCAG 2.1 entails and how you can assure you meet the guidelines with your own website.
Why does your website need to be Accessible?
Making a website accessible means making sure it can be used by as many people as possible. This includes those with impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities, deafness or impaired hearing. For example, someone with impaired vision might use a screen reader (software that lets a user navigate a website and "reads out" the content), braille display or screen magnifier. Or someone with motor difficulties might use a special mouse, speech recognition software or on-screen keyboard emulator.
1 in 5 people has a disability which makes it all that much more important that websites can be accessed by everyone. Accessible websites also tend to be faster and easier to use, and appear higher on search engines.
4 in 10 local councils' homepages failed basic tests for accessibility. Common issues include:
- Can't be navigated using a keyboard
- Inaccessibe PDF forms that can't be read out on screen readers
- Poor colour contrast that makes text difficult to read, especially for visually impaired people
What are the Guidelines?
The WCAG 2.1 has 12 guidelines that can be grouped into four principles as explained below.
Your website must present information in ways people can recognise and use, no matter how they consume content (by touch, sound or sight for example).
Guideline 1.1: Provide text alternatives
Guideline 1.2: Provide alternatives for time-based media
Guideline 1.3: Create content that can be presented in different ways
Guideline 1.4: Make content easy for people to see and hear
Your website must be navigable and usable no matter how someone operates it (without a mouse, with voice commands, or with a screen magnifier for example)
Guideline 2.1: Make functionality work with a keyboard
Guideline 2.2: Give people enough time to read and use content
Guideline 2.3: Do not cause seizures
Guideline 2.4: Provide ways to help people navigate and find content
Your website must make information understandable, and make it easy for users to comprehend how to complete tasks.
Guideline 3.1: Make text readable and understandable
Guideline 3.2: Make things appear and behave in consistent ways
Guideline 3.3: Help people avoid and correct mistakes
Your website must work with different browsers and assistive technologies in use now, and use technologies in ways that will make your website operable with the browsers and assistive technologies of the future.
Guideline 4.1: Make content compatible with different browsers and assistive technologies
So, what do you need to do?
You will need to have an accessibility statement on your website which covers:
- which parts of your website does not meet accessibility standards and why
- how people with access needs can get alternatives to content that’s not accessible
- how to contact you to report accessibility problems - and a link (to be confirmed) to the government website that they can use if they’re not happy with your response
How long do you have to do this?
For websites created after 23rd September 2018, you have until the 23rd September 2019.
For websites created before 23rd September 2018, you have until the 23rd September 2020.
What we can do for you
If you have a Vision ICT responsive website, we will carry out any programming necessary for your site to comply to the new guidelines at no cost to your council. However, there are a number of elements on your site that are your responsibility to maintain, such as placing alternative text on pictures and adding PDF's so that they can be read by screen reader software.
Vision ICT can carry out an appraisal of your site for you and produce a report, the cost of which will depend on the level of content contained on your site. We can also make all the necessary changes for you if you wish, again with a cost that will depend on the level of work required.
If you have an older website with us, we can carry out an appraisal of your site for you and produce a report. However, to bring your site up to the required DDA standard we would advise that the most cost-effective way to do this would be to upgrade your site to our fully responsive level, which will cover a number of non-compliance issues. Part of us building your new site would be ensuring that all criteria are met, including adding alternative text to images and ensuring PDF documents were compliant with new guidelines. The cost to upgrade will vary according to the size and functionality of your website.
Please contact us for more information and to discuss any of the above. You may also wish to click on the links below to do some of your own research: