What is Web Page Accessibility?

Web page accessibility refers to the method of ensuring that websites are accessible to people of all abilities / disabilities. With correct designing, development and editing, a website can provide equal access to information and functionality for all people. Google also takes these guidelines into consideration when ranking a site.

2017 02 28 1232 - What is Web Page Accessibility?

In 1999 The World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) published a list of web accessibility guidelines (entitled the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 1.0.) The guidelines set out a series of instructions in order to make accessibility a priority for web developers, who are now expected to code a website with meaningful HTML. This list has become widely considered the definitive guide to constructing an accessible website.

An example of one of the guidelines instructions is ensuring that textual equivalents are provided for images and that meaningful descriptions are entered for links, enabling blind users using text-to-speak software and text-to-braille hardware to have a greater online experience.

Other specifications in the Web Accessibility Guidelines include:

  • Ensuring images and text is large or enlargeable to assist those with poor sight.
  • Not only setting links as a different colour in the text, but also underlining them, or setting them apart in some other manner, so that colour blind users can notice them.
  • Making links and clickable areas larger to ensure that those who have difficulty controlling a mouse due to mobility issues (amongst other disabilities) can click through.
  • Coding a sight so that navigation can be controlled not only through the mouse but also through a keyboard and single switch access, to assist those unable to use a mouse at all.
  • Ensuring that videos include closed-captioned and sign language versions, allowing the deaf, or those with partial hearing, to understand the content.
  • To make sure that a website is accessible to those prone to seizures, or epilepsy sufferers, flashing effects should be avoided or made optional.
  • Writing in plain English, with clear instructions and directions makes a website more accessible for those with Dyslexia and other learning difficulties.

The correct building of a site can make it as accessible as possible for people with a range of disabilities, whilst not impairing the user experience (UX) for non-disabled users. At the moment there are three tiers to web page accessibility. By default a professional web development agency should create all of their websites to an A standard, and should be open to building to AA and AAA when required (it is very rare for a site to need to comply to AAA standards. This is mostly reserved for Government sites as the level of accessibility is extremely high and therefore can be expensive to build).

In December 2010 the British Standards Institute (BSI) release an updated code of practice specific to the UK. These particular web accessibility guidelines effectively describes what is expected from a website, in order that it complies with the UK Disability Discrimination Act (1995). This list is an imperative guide for anyone responsible for web product creation within an organisation, and would also assist those responsible for creating or managing the online content.

The WC3 – an international community made up of member organisations, staff and the public – continue to evolve and develop the way in which organisations can provide web page accessibility, whilst ensuring a high standard of web page accessibility standards.

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