Website accessibility is about making your website accessible to all Internet users (both disabled and non-disabled), regardless of what browsing technology they're using.
Why is it so important?
There are legal requirements: The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 does not specifically address website design standards but it does make reference to the provision of any service, such as a website.
It has business benefits: Improving a website's accessibility and usability has the benefit of ensuring that information is available to the widest possible audience as well as a number of other benefits:
- Improved potential for online sales. Disabled spending power is in excess of £80 billion therefore businesses should be making their websites accessible in order to attract disabled buyers.
- Brand equity is increased.
- Improved overall usability for more accessible and easier to use web pages for all users.
- Search engines can more accurately index the content of accessible websites, which often results in higher ranking and greater frequency of valid matches to search queries.
- Easier maintenence of the website as a whole.
- Reduced risk of costly legal settlements, litigation and potential loss of business.
Website accessibility standards and guidelines
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a web industry co-operative, recognised the need for universal accessibility and since 1999 its Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to help reduce potential difficulties. The WCAG 2.0 were published in 2008 and are designed to be a stable, referenceable technical standard.
Make your website W3C compliant
W3C compliance helps to ensure accessibility. Compliance also helps to ensure that websites are accessible from a number of devices and on different browsers. It will also help to ensure that a website will look and function consistently. Compliance can result in better search engine placement, ultimately resulting in increased website traffic and therefore, business.
A website accessibility audit is an expert evaluation of your website against accessibility guidelines and standards and will assess the visibility, usability and accessibility of your website.