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Does Your Website Need to Be More Accessibility Friendly?

Wednesday 8 December 2021

6 minute read

By Sarah Burns

Website accessibility has become a core consideration during the pandemic as many of us relied on the internet to continue our daily lives (in a fashion) including those with disabilities.

According to the UN, approximately 15% of the world’s population, (an estimated 1 billion people,) live with disabilities. When you consider this along with the message within the Equality Act 2010 that ‘every individual has equal rights to the same services and information’ - it’s important that websites can be accessed by those with additional needs.

It can sound like a major overhaul of your website to make it accessible, but it doesn't need to be, by having a modern, recent website design and build you could have made solid progress to make your site accessible without really considering it. 

If you have an outdated website and you’re considering a redesign with accessibility in mind, be sure to request that your design and its subsequent build considers these factors: 

1. Design an organised and consistent layout

A clear path is ideal for all users, but most important for those with additional needs. Menus, links and buttons all need to be considered, so that they are distinct from one another, and easily navigated across the site. Bear in mind that users may zoom in and make these elements larger - how will this impact the website experience? 

2. Avoid sticky headers and menus

These can work well for desktop users without accessibility needs, but if a user needs to zoom in or use additional technology to view your website sticky elements can make your site appear overwhelming and crowded.

3. Image alt text supports SEO and accessibility

Alt (alternative) text is a hidden copy that gets attached to media files which will show if the media fails to load. This copy is used by SEO crawlers, so it’s a win for search engine rankings, but it is also what is used by screen-reading tools to describe website images to visually impaired visitors. 

4. Video/audio captions and text transcripts

Multimedia files can add so much more to your site for those with and without accessibility needs, but to truly create an accessibility friendly experience you should include captions to videos (another SEO bonus) and also add text transcripts (SEO friendly again) to your website pages for those who have hearing impairments. 

5. Colours can cause problems

Take careful consideration to the contrast between foreground elements, background colours and the colour of body text and link text. Try WebAIM for guidance on contrast.

Website accessibility is a core topic and will only grow in importance as websites become more digitally inclusive and the topic continues to be highlighted.  The Resources Survey reveals there are over 12 million disabled people living in the UK whose spending, along with that of their families, is an estimated £80 billion a year. 

If this isn’t enough of a reason to consider the accessibility of your website, remember the multitude of SEO benefits to implementing some of the above recommendations. 

If you're looking to embark on a website build project, whether it's completely from scratch or a site refresh, our ebook will give you the knowledge to make your project as stress-free as possible.

The Website Design Handbook for Businesses

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