In September 2018, the UK government introduced new accessibility regulations for websites in the public sector such as charities, local government organisations, and other non-government websites. Even if your website doesn’t fall into the public sector there are over 2 million people living with sight loss in the UK alone. That’s a huge market that potentially can’t access your content and services.
But where do you start?
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are an internationally recognised set of recommendations for improving web accessibility. They explain point by point how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, such as those who are blind, deaf, or have cognitive impairments.
Designed around four basic principles of content being perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (POUR), these guidelines strive to make the web a friendlier place for those with disabilities. Each of these principles is supported by guidelines and success criteria that provide specific requirements and testable standards for content accessibility.
Perceivable information and user interface:
This means that the information presented on the website should be accessible to all people and all levels of disability.
This can be achieved by providing text alternatives for non-text content such as pictures or promotional videos, as well as making use of Alt Text, captions, and transcripts in plain text.
Users should also be able to change how the content is presented, such as different colour schemes for those with colourblindness or resizable text, whilst also ensuring the content is easy to see and hear in the first place.
Operable user interface and navigation:
To ensure your website and content are operable by people of all abilities, WCAG suggests making sure users can interact with the user interface (UI) from their keyboard as well as making adjustments for different input modalities beyond that. For this to work effectively, it’s important that users can easily navigate, find content, and determine where on the website they are.
The guidelines also suggest making sure users have enough time to read and use time-sensitive content, as well as ensuring that the content shouldn’t cause seizures or physical reactions by disabling flashing imagery and colours.
Understandable information and user interface:
Text and UI must be readable by both user and e-reader to maximise the accessibility of your site, whilst also operating in predictable and standardised ways to prevent confusion when navigating.
People using the site must also be helped to avoid, and to correct, mistakes with the use of detailed instructions and error messages built into the site.
Robust content with reliable interpretation:
Robustness of content means the assurance that it’s compatible with a wide range of user agents, such as a variety of browsers, screen readers, and assistive technologies.
Using valid markup is one of the most important ways to ensure this is true by being able to accurately signpost content for these alternative user agents to function correctly.
For a free and easy way to check if your website has valid markup, simply enter your website address in the Web Consortiums Markup Validation service here.