(1) What is Web Accessibility?
Web Accessibility is about making information on your website open to as wide an audience as possible; users with disabilities in particular - this includes:
- Visually impaired
- Colour blind
- Unable to use a normal mouse
(2) Why Make Websites Accessible?
There are 8.6 million disabled people in the UK - that's one in seven of the population and 36% of these are web users. A significant portion of people with disabilities can benefit from web sites specifically designed to be more accessible. This includes those who have cognitive, visual, hearing or physical disabilities which affect their ability to use computers and the Internet and the number is growing as people live longer. Poor contrast between colours, small typefaces and unintuitive menu systems can make your website unreadable.
A growing amount of legislation and guidelines including RNIB and the W3C's WAI, as well as the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act has made it a legal requirement for companies and organisations to ensure that all can access their services and information. This act directly applies to websites and Internet services. However accessibility is also relevant to companies who wish to build traffic to their websites whilst simultaneously promoting good practice within their environment and community.
(3) Good Reasons for Accessible Design
- increase sales (if you have something to sell)
- increase audience reach by making your site more compatible with smaller screen devices like PDA's and Smart phones
- improve search engine listings - search engines need a correctly coded site as much as a visitor with sight problems if it is to interpret and index the information on your site properly
- reduce loads on your server and bandwidth and make your site quicker to download for those using slow connections
- reduce site maintenance costs since easier to maintain
- ensure your site complies with disability discrimination law
In an ideal world, a website needs to be designed to be, visually attractive, usable and accessible. This involves an in-depth knowledge of how people interact with information, and technical knowledge of coding restrictions placed by software developed to aid visually impaired users in extracting information on the web.
At ne-web we take both the guidelines and the practicalities into consideration for every site we develop. Compliance with web standards is a given - it's about knowing the difference between good and bad coding. We can show you how your website is perceived by users with disabilities and set it up to comply with current accessibility guidelines in a sustainable manner.
Contrary to popular belief, accessible sites do not have to be boring. This sort of compromise is only made due to lack of experience. What we offer above and beyond the usual templated approach to accessibility is flexible, imaginative and innovative design combined with the ability to safely control content on your website without needing to know about HTML.
From providing accessibility consultancy and training through to producing a complete bespoke solution, we can provide you with a headache-free service for your compliance needs.
(4) Standards & Compliance
Our take on web standards is quite simple - they exist because they represent best practice in our industry, and are the correct way to develop websites and applications. So at ne-web, all the sites we develop, not just our public sector work, are built to comply with web standards unless we are specifically instructed to do otherwise.
Additionally, because these are evolving constantly as new web technologies emerge, we're also involved with the on-going discussions to ensure that the standards remain in touch with web user needs.
There are three levels of accessibility compliance, level A, level AA and level AAA, often called Priority 1, 2 and 3. A number of the checkpoints are subjective due to the nature of various disabilities and impairments however we aim to acheive level A compliance and where possible level AA or AAA.