It’s been a long time since the matter of making one’s website as accessible as possible, for as broad a range of potential users as possible, was a mere afterthought.
For signs of this, you only need to look at how significantly laws related to web accessibility in the UK have advanced in recent years. Website accessibility first began to be legally addressed by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; from there, the Equality Act 2010 brought expanded online protections for people with disabilities.
Much more recently, we’ve seen the passage into law of the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, which focused on public-sector websites and mobile apps.
But the need to stay on the right side of the law isn’t the only reason you should be looking to optimise your own website’s accessibility – its relevance being a lot broader than you might realise.
A better user experience is good news for everyone
While it’s true that website accessibility is largely about identifying and implementing the standards and guidelines that will enable people with disabilities to use websites effectively (and obtain the information they need), the benefits of embracing website accessibility are much wider.
Yes, when you’re making accessibility-focused changes to your brand’s online presence, you’ll be largely thinking about the needs of people with auditory, physical, visual, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities.
Nor do those audiences make up a mere ‘minority’ – according to the UK Department for Work and Pensions’ Family Resources Survey, there are some 13.9 million disabled people in the UK, making up 19% of working-age adults and 45% of pension-age adults.
However, a more accessible website will also be one that is easier to use for various other groups in different circumstances. These may include people with limited bandwidth and poor Internet connections, as well as users of devices with smaller screens, such as smartwatches.
Website accessibility is often greatly appreciated, too, by those with situational limitations – for example, people in an environment that doesn’t allow them to listen to audio, or who may have broken their prescription glasses.
So, what makes a website truly accessible?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) provide useful insights into how business website owners can better serve their users’ accessibility requirements.
The guidelines fall under the four broad principles of perceivability, operability, understandability and robustness. The measures that you implement for your own site to ensure these standards are met might include such steps as:
- Providing text alternatives to non-text content to enable it to be changed into other forms that visitors might require, such as Braille, large print or symbols
- Simplifying the process of seeing and hearing content for users – for instance, by separating foreground elements from the background
- Refraining from the use of content that could cause physical reactions or seizures
- Ensuring your website’s content is predictable in its appearance and operation
- Maximising your website content’s compatibility with both current and future tools, such as assistive technologies
Reach out now to begin revamping your online presence
The above are just a few of the ways in which you might conceivably optimise your brand’s website to build a more inclusive experience for everyone who could stand to benefit from your firm’s products and services. It is, and should be, an ongoing process – but it is also one that could bring real and long-lasting rewards for your business.
For a more in-depth conversation about how the Webahead Internet team could help you to get more out of your brand’s website in 2020, simply call 01325 582112 or get in touch via email.