The Importance of Accessibility

As many of you know, the new Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 require you to make some changes to your websites so that there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites for people with a disability.

So how many people will these regulations affect?

While the most well-known benefiters of the regulations are the visually impaired; there are a broad range of disabilities that make it hard for people to access the internet. This includes people with: 

  • Blindness or visual impairment (including those with colour blindness)
  • Deafness or hearing impairment
  • Motor difficulties (including those who may use a special mouse, speech recognition software or on-screen keyboard emulator)
  • Cognitive impairment and learning disabilities (including those with autism, dyslexia or learning difficulties)
There are around 13.9 million people in the UK that have a disability, and of those there are more than 2 million that are visually impaired, 1.5 million which have learning difficulties and 7 million which have motor difficulties. 

Disability can also be temporary (brought about by illness or an accident) or situational (such as only having access to a mobile phone). Like the Transparency Code, the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 were introduced to allow the public access to information about their community. Making your website accessible means making sure as many people as possible can access your services and information.
 

Why are these regulations for websites?

More and more businesses and organisations are using websites to interact with the public, from healthcare, education and employment to shopping, entertainment, and government services. Nowadays it is almost impossible to navigate modern life without the internet. In 2019 alone, the number of disabled adults who use the internet reached over 10 million. 

With the current pandemic, having information easily available online is crucial. We’ve recently all experienced what it’s like to be unable to leave our homes and to access information almost exclusively through the internet, but this is the reality for some people 365 days of the year. Councils have been an essential pillar of information and in some cases, a distributor of volunteers and resources during this pandemic, but without accessibility, the most vulnerable people in our communities would be unaware of this aid. The internet offers one of the easiest ways to communicate with people who may be unable to physically get to a noticeboard or who cannot read the posters printed there.

Accessible websites have the added benefit of lining up with best practices for web design, usability, and SEO. For businesses, this can mean you reach a whole new audience who may not have normally been marketed to. 
 

How does this work with the regulations?

Now you know who benefits from the regulations, how do we put that into practice and what actions can we take to ensure your website is accessible? Let’s go through the regulations and break down what it is we are doing to make sure your website meets regulations, and what you can do to keep it accessible when uploading new information.    

While the WCAG 2.1 can be a bit wordy, some of the main areas include:

  1. Title – People with visual impairment
  2. Language – People with visual impairment
  3. Keyboard Navigation – People with motor difficulties
  4. Text – People with colour blindness and learning difficulties
  5. Links – People with visual impairment
  6. Images – People with visual impairment
  7. Videos – People with hearing impairment
  8. Responsiveness on Mobiles – People with motor difficulties
  9. Forms – People with motor difficulties or visual impairment  

What We are doing:

When we build your new website, we have the WCAG 2.1 in mind. Some of the things we do include:

  • Adding a clear title to each page.
  • The language on the file for each page is specified as English.
  • The page can be navigated by using the tab, enter, shift and arrow keys for those with motor difficulties.
  • Text will always have a contrast of at least 4:5:1 against the background (our designers use the WCAG contrast checker chrome extension). To increase text size, you can use the zoom features within your browser or press CTRL and “+” on your keyboard or CTRL and your mouse wheel.
  • Links will have a clear purpose from link text alone to aid in navigation for people with screen readers. Our links are indicated by boldness and underlining so that colour is not the only way to distinguish them (this aids people with colour blindness).
  • All images will be uploaded with alternative text.
  • In the last three months of 2019, mobile devices (excluding tablets) accounted for 52.6% of global online traffic which means the likeliness someone is accessing your site by a mobile is more than 50%. During the build, our designers check the site for responsiveness on mobile phones, which includes the responsiveness of things we embed such as maps or calendars, social media feeds and tables.
  • Our forms have labels that can be navigated through with a keyboard, and can be accessed on a mobile phone easily.

What you can do:

  • Ensure any new pages you add have a clear title that matches or is close to the page name.
  • Try to keep language simple for those with learning disabilities except where this is not possible.
  • Don’t paste text from other sites or word documents directly into the text box as this can add colours that do not meet contrast regulations. We have more details on how to paste text correctly and how to remove styling from pasted text on our support site.
  • Ensure all links have a clear purpose even if the text around it was removed. Links should also be unique (instead of having annual return written twice for example, add the years into the link as well so there is a clear distinction).
  • Add in a short description of the image to the alt text box and if you are uploading an image of text, have that text be available in a way that is friendly for screen readers either linked to the image or nearby.
  • If your council is embedding a video on the site from Youtube or Vimeo, it needs to have captions or a written transcript nearby for the hearing impaired.
  • Avoid adding tables on the website as these are difficult to make responsive. You can instead have the table on a word document and link to this on the page. If you must use a table or want to add in an iframe (such as google calendar or map) please contact us to make certain it is responsive.


I want an accessible website

If you are an existing client and you want to know if your website is accessible, you can use our WCAG 2.1 checklist to go through yourselves or you can email accessibility@visionict.com for more information about our accessibility checks.

Vision ICT builds bespoke, responsive, and accessible websites that will help you meet the regulations in time for September. If you would like to upgrade your website or purchase a new one, please email our sales team via sbutton@visionict.com or 01392 669497 to get the ball rolling, we would love to hear from you. 
 

Resources:

The Guidelines:
https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/#intro


Vision ICT Accessibility:
https://support.visionict.com/hc/en-us/categories/360001727517-Accessibility
https://visionict.com/WCAG_2.1_Checklist_28396.aspx
https://visionict.com/DDA_Compliance_25682.aspx


Facts and Figures on Disability:
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-resources-survey-financial-year-201617
https://www.scope.org.uk/media/disability-facts-figures/
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/learning-disabilities/help-information/learning-disability-statistics-


Use of Internet
https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/itandinternetindustry/bulletins/internetusers/2019 (linked to from the .gov.uk website).  

 

~ Mel Hingston 

Get in touch with us

We would be delighted to chat about your ideas and identify how we can help you. Call or email our friendly and talented team to discuss your requirements.

1 Southernhay West, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1JG
Company No: 3911169