“The power of the Web is in its universality.
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
An estimated 20% of people are living with a form of disability, amounting to a potential customer base worth an estimated €212 Billion. Quite simply put, a business with an inaccessible website is missing out on substantial opportunities and are not maximising interaction with their current customer base.
For businesses, accessibility carries more than just one importance, search engines such as Google and Bing also require websites to have a certain level of accessibility to them, in order to help index their pages. This ultimately plays an essential part in ensuring that the right people can find your service or product. In the same way that creating accessible web pages helps people of varying abilities access your content, it is also equally important to ensure that those same people are able to effectively contribute during their visits to your site; whether on forums, competition forms or general feedback and commentary.
Designers who understand accessibility principles and guidelines are always in a better position to deliver finished products that are complete and unambiguous, with all usability requirements fulfilled. There are varying levels and degrees of disabilities, making it that bit more difficult for web designers and developers to cross implement it into different platforms. However this can be aided by clear usability requirements being set out before commencement of any development project, to help ensure that design intent, is implemented throughout the entire website design workflow.
To get the right balance during the design phase, it’s always worth testing your designs with actual users. This will help to highlight particular areas of the design that might cause difficulties with certain disabilities such as colour blindness or low vision. Building a great website that is accessible to all is only the start, businesses must continue to make regular improvements by utilising user feedback and setting effective design and management processes.
Practical steps can be taken during the design phase of a website build, the below link contains general guidelines, Dos and Don’ts and best design practices for accessibility, as used by the government for making all public sector services accessible to all;
- These guidelines include tips for designing to aid users who are on the Autism Spectrum (like writing in Plain English and avoiding walls of block text).
- There are also guidelines for designing with the use of screen readers in mind, including describing images, transcribing video content and not forcing mouse and screen usage.
- Tips to make design more accessible for those with low vision are provided. They incorporate elements such as publishing on HTML and following a linear, logical layout so text is visible when magnified to 200%.
- Designing tips for those who are deaf or hard of hearing covers issues such as subtitles for audio/visual content and making sure there are more contact options than just a telephone number.
- Designing for Dyslexia includes advice on the use of images and diagrams to support text and avoiding excessive use of underlining, italics or capital letter text.
- There is also advice on how to design accessibility for users with physical or motor difficulties. They cover aspects such as designing for speech use, allowing longer time on time out windows and ensuring large clickable actions.
How Accessible is your website?