What is website accessibility and why is it important?

what is website accessibility

What is website accessibility?

Website accessibility is about how easy it is for disabled users to access the information or services that your website offers. Having a website that is accessible means that everyone can access the content on your website and it is easy to understand your content. It covers all disabilities that can affect access to your website, but it can also benefit other users including older people and those with ‘temporary disabilities’.

The accessibility of your website needs to be thought about while your website is being designed and developed, and while you are adding or updating content – text, images, videos, and documents that can be downloaded from your website. For example, videos with important information in the sound should have subtitles, closed captions, or a text transcript alternative.

Your web designer or developer should create an accessible website as standard and should not be charging extra for it. Ask them about it before any agreement is reached. Once your website is up and running it will be up to the people that add content to it to make sure that it is all accessible.

Including everyone

Having an inaccessible website means that you are shutting out part of your target audience for no reason. Around 11 million people in the UK have a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability – that’s about 16% of working age adults, and 5% of adults over State Pension age. Why make it difficult for them to get to your products or services?

Anyone can have accessibility issues, not just disabled people – if you fall and injure your wrist, if you need glasses, if you get an ear infection and can’t hear properly. All of these could cause problems when you are trying to use websites – unless the websites have been built to be accessible.

Teenage girl using software to read out a website

Legal requirements

UK law, in the Equality Act 2010, states that no user should be exluded on the basis of disability. A website that is inaccessible to people with disabilites is considered a breach of the Equality Act 2010 and a court case could be brought against the website owners.

See the Gov.uk – Accessibility, how to make services that everyone can use webpage for guidance from the government for how to ensure that your website complies with legal guidelines.

As a starting point, the government recommends that your website should meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) created by theWorld Wide Web Consortium (W3C) You should aim for your website and the content on it to meet Level AA of the guidelines.

Web Accessibility Myths

Have you heard that an accessible website is also a boring website? Or that it is too expensive or time consuming to create?

Well that isn’t the case! An accessible website does not have to be ugly or boring. You can still have a beautiful, media-rich website that is interactive and engaging, and accessible. If you build in accessibility right from the start it does not add a lot to the cost or the time to develop. And as we have already seen, you could be fined for having an inaccessible website – a lot more than the cost of getting it right from the start.

The benefits

Making websites accessible means following web standards. This in turn will make your website easier for everyone to use, more future proof, more robust, and more scalable. It will mean it works better across the wide range of tablets and phones in use today, and more likely to work on devices released in the future.

If your visitors, disabled or not, see that your website is easy to use they are more likely to return, and hopefully spread the word about you to friends and family! For you this can lead to more sales, an improved reputation, and a bigger audience.

The benefits of having an accessible website far outweigh the cost and extra effort that go into it.

Further reading

Introduction to Web Accessibility from the W3C 

Gov.uk Disability facts and figures

BBC – What is accessibility?

10 Easy Accessibility Tips Anyone Can Use

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Tuesday Tunes – The Gaslight Anthem

Rock band the Gaslight Anthem

Two videos from The Gaslight Anthem for my Tuesday Tunes this week, because I couldn’t decide between them! I’ve been listening to their album a lot over the last weekend and they’re really sticking in my head. These are Get Hurt and Rollin’ and Tumblin’, from their latest album Get Hurt.

More Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem on YouTube

The Gaslight Anthem website

The Gaslight Anthem on Facebook

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Tuesday Tunes – Banks

Banks singer style

Waiting Game by Banks is one I’ve had on my ipod for a few months, I just like it more every time I hear it. Soft and gentle, but kinda dark too. It’s good music for when you’re trying to create an atmosphere.

Banks on YouTube

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Erin Morgenstern – The Night Circus

The Night Circus

Although it’s more than two years since I read The Night Circus, I still think about it every now and then. I think that’s a sign of the impact it had on me. It is a beautifully written book, one I could easily have finished in a day – locking myself away from the world and just curling up with a big mug of tea.

It’s a story about magic, and love, and duty and it’s all wrapped up in a story about a magical circus. Part of the reason this book works so well it’s cast of strange and wonderful characters.

Even the secondary characters in The Night Circus have a lot of personality, and it feels as though Erin loves them as much, if not more than the main characters. They spark off the pages, and really bring the book to life.

Definitely time I read it again.

Have you read The Night Circus? What did you think of it?

Find The Night Circus on Amazon

Bonus – make some of these yummy Night Circus cookies from Not Your Mommas Cookie!

The Night CIrcus

 

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What prepares you for the day?

My morning routine

Written in response to Medium’s Writing Prompt - What prepares you for the day?

Morning is perhaps my favourite time of the day. Calm and peaceful, it is my quiet ‘me’ time. My chance to awaken slowly and spend some time alone before forcing myself out into the world.

Some days I go to the gym first thing. On those days I have to jump up and dress quickly, leaving the house in time to arrive at the gym as it opens. Not too early, so I don’t have to stand around waiting in reception. I have 45 minutes – 1 hour for a workout, then it’s another mad dash to shower and dress, and get to work in time to get a space in the car park.

Going to the gym on a morning isn’t always easy, bit it makes me happy feeling like I’ve achieved something so early in the day!

My morning routine

Once at work though, it’s time for breakfast in the canteen. Always porridge with almond milk and fruit, ready prepared the night before and straight in the microwave to warm up. While I’m eating I read. Sometimes a novel, but usually a design or web development book, or maybe my boyfriends old copy of New Scientist. I like to feel like I’ve learnt something each day.

Then it’s up to my desk, and a cup of tea while I check my emails and really get going.

What’s your morning routine?

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