Making websites that work for everyone.
As a website commissioner or owner there are some ‘accessibility’ basics of which you should be aware.
Web accessibility is about providing access to information and services without restriction.
The idea is that anyone should be able to access any products and services without discrimination. In particular this is referring to disabled, blind, deaf and otherwise inconvenienced visitors. In short, everyone should all be able to use your website.
In the UK there is specific legislation, covered in the disability discrimination act (DDA) 1995 and amended in 2005, that requires anyone providing a service or product to make it accessible to all. This includes owners and developers of websites and requires them to make their sites easily accessible by all visitors.
There are established guidelines on accessibility provided by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
Disability Discrimination Act
The DDA Code of Practice states:
2.2: “The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public.”
2.13 – 2.17: “What services are affected by the Disability Discrimination Act? An airline company provides a flight reservation and booking service to the public on its website. This is a provision of a service and is subject to the act.”
4.7: “From 1st October 1999 a service provider has to take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services.”
5.23: “For people with visual impairments, the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include … accessible websites.”
5.26: “For people with hearing disabilities, the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include … accessible websites.”
The DDA does not give specific rules on the level of accessibility required. However, at a minimum level all sites should follow basic accessibility principles.
W3C & WCAG
The European Parliament emphasised that European institutes and member state governments are asked to fulfill priority 1 as well as priority 2 of the W3C/WCAG guidelines.
A Web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for some groups to be able to use Web documents.
A Web content developer should satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to accessing Web documents.
A Web content developer may address this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it somewhat difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access to Web documents.
There are degrees of conformance to these priorities.
Conformance Level “A”: all Priority 1 checkpoints are satisfied;
Conformance Level “Double-A”: all Priority 1 and 2 checkpoints are satisfied;
Conformance Level “Triple-A”: all Priority 1, 2, and 3 checkpoints are satisfied;
The guidelines in full are at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-TECHS/
An overview of selected W3C Priority 1, 2 and 3 checkpoints of relevance to website owners and commissioners.
Your website should conform to these guidelines;
- Use Web Standards for XHTML/CSS.
- Allow text on the page to scale.
- Optimise the site for an 800×600 view to prevent horizontal scrolling.
- Use meaningful ALT text for all images.
- Clarify the natural language of each page.
- Avoid items that move, blink, scroll, or flicker.
- Avoid spawned windows such as pop-ups.
- Use descriptive hyperlink text.
- Avoid the use of frames.
- Ensure that all information conveyed with colour is also available without colour.
- Ensure that foreground and background colour combinations provide sufficient contrast.
- Use an easy to read non-serif font type, size and colour.
- Ensure clear and consistent navigation.