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:
- Title – People with visual impairment
- Language – People with visual impairment
- Keyboard Navigation – People with motor difficulties
- Text – People with colour blindness and learning difficulties
- Links – People with visual impairment
- Images – People with visual impairment
- Videos – People with hearing impairment
- Responsiveness on Mobiles – People with motor difficulties
- 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.
~ Mel Hingston