Last month I wrote about five ways to make your website accessible.
Given the growing importance of accessibility, I’d like to add more on this topic – and share some recent guidelines that will help to make sure your website is compliant with discrimination law.
In the UK, following recent changes to the Equality Act 2010, there are now more ways than ever to measure – and demonstrate – accessibility on your website.
Best practice – how to guide
If you are a website owner/service provider, legal experts recommend that you follow one of two schemes to help make your website compliant with UK law:
- BSI 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice, or
- Level 1 of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
How the schemes work:
Under the BSI 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice, there are a number of recommendations for you to follow:
Provide documentation about how and why accessibility decisions were taken on your website. For example, actively involve users of your website in accessibility testing and make available a web accessibility policy.
In your accessibility policy define the web accessibility standards that apply to your website – including any technology or adjustments you have added that would make life easier for your likely target audience.
Make your policy available for users to find and read – preferably online.
If you are following level 1 of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, draw up a compliance checklist using the following questions as a guide:
- Have you provided alternative formats – e.g. for example written transcripts of audio files?
- Have you considered how colour is used – so that those who are unable to see colours or whose equipment does not display colours correctly are not disadvantaged?
- Do you publish clear and easy-to-understand content – by avoiding complicated language, or jargon?
- Is your website content accessible to all users – with information available in more than one format?
- Is the content browser-version friendly – i.e. can it be accessed by those who may be using older versions of internet browsers?
- Have you avoided the use of flashing or moving images to make it easier for web users to follow?
- Do you use technology to improve access – by using hot keys or shortcut keys (and providing a guide to these keys) to help those who do not or can not use a mouse?
- Have you clearly stated whether your website can be easily used by people who have learning difficulties, difficulties with motor skills, visual difficulties etc. ?
Make the most of all your hard work on accessibility by scheduling in a regular review of your checklist and by carrying out any amendments your website may need as a result of your ongoing reviews.
Finally, always keep a copy of your checklist.
Your checklist is your way of demonstrating (in the event of a legal challenge) that you’ve made reasonable adjustments to your website. It also shows your commitment to what is known as digital inclusion – by helping all visitors to be able to use your website.
Post written by DEBBIE THOMAS on 18 April 2011.