Tel: 0117 9724835
Web sites – Web site Accessibility
Ensuring your Web site is accessible makes good business sense. You broaden your potential customer base when more people are able to use your site. And you ensure you aren't breaking laws or relevant guidelines.
An accessible Web site is usable by the greatest proportion of people with internet access, no matter how they are browsing your site.
From screen-readers that read out web pages and can link to machines that translate them into Braille, through to low resolution devices such as pocket PCs, mobile phones and television sets - there are a large number of different ways in which visitors may try to access your web pages. The more accessible your site is, the greater the number of people who will be able to use it.
Stay on the right side of the law
Web site accessibility already has legal force in the UK. Currently it is mainly larger companies and publicly-funded organizations that are aware of the possibility of legal action and the negative public relations consequences of being criticised or named and shamed by groups representing the concerns of the visually impaired and disabled.
As larger companies sort out accessibility issues with their sites, attention inevitably turns to smaller companies and organizations. Organizations of all sizes should seek professional advice on their Web site accessibility soon if they haven't already done so. GWS can provide full assessments, assist with making site changes and help draw up policies and guidelines to ensure internal development maintains awareness of and focus on accessibility issues.
- The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 has had sections brought into force since 1999 which make it unlawful for a provider of services to discriminate against a disabled person.
- To accompany the Act, there is also a Code of Practice (Access to Goods and Facilities and Premises) and the Disability Rights Commission has also issued a code "Proposals for a new code of practice: Rights of access, goods, facilities, services and premises". These emphasize that the design and functioning of Web sites is covered by the DDA.
- The provision of services covered includes "the provision of any goods or facilities" to any members of the public in the private, public or voluntary sectors - and every individual in an organization is liable under the act. It is a myth that only the public sector is affected.
- A damning report on the Web sites of a number of high street stores and banks in 2000 found most of them failing accessibility tests.
- The RNIB has considered taking up a number of legal cases with regard to Web sites, but so far the companies targeted have agreed to alter their Web sites rather than face legal action and the likelihood of a PR disaster. Consequently no legal action has yet been taken in the UK on the matter of Web site accessibility..
Instead of waiting for your Web site's DDA non-compliance to catch up with your organization, it makes sense to start planning how to improve things now. Enhancing Web site accessibility does not have to be a major investment - in most cases it will only be a small proportion of the whole cost of your Web site.
- Reach a larger audience
- Avoid legal challenges
- Avoid unwelcome publicity
- Improve corporate image
- Meet government guidelines
Looking to the future
The increasing number of mature internet users (and the ageing of existing internet users) as well as the enormous opportunities offered by the internet to people with disabilities will ensure the number of visitors concerned with Web site accessibility issues continues to grow.
Companies cannot afford to alienate or ignore this market segment - if they don't cater to it they risk losing clients to others who do, as well as facing legal challenges and the prospect of public humiliation for failing to live up to their responsibilities under the DDA.
We use a variety of testing mechanisms to ensure your site is accessible. These include examining Web site pages in text-only browsers and screen-reading software. Unlike many web development companies, we do not cut corners by assuming that meeting certain technical standards through automated testing software is sufficient to make a Web site usable for people with disabilities.
The standards set out in the Web Accessibility Initiative and by other bodies are immensely valuable, but in the end manual, real-world testing is required.
We keep up-to-date with accessibility guidelines and best practices, and we can advise you on fixing and improving accessibility issues with your current Web site - as well as rebuilding from the ground up with accessibility in mind.
Ring us to find out more about how your organization can benefit and stay on the right side of the law: 0117 9724835