Digital technology has created amazing opportunities for communicating, sharing information, and banking and shopping. But users of your digital technologies have different needs. Keep this variety in mind, otherwise millions of people will find it hard or impossible to use your content people you want to reach. Accessibility is important to at least 60% of your audience and getting it right means you’ll build something that is better for everyone, so it’s good for business! Digital accessibility is also a regulatory requirement. There have been legal cases launched against websites that exclude users, who may be colour blind, or have impaired use of arms or hands, cognitive differences, or visual or hearing impairments. It’s best to think about accessibility from the start of a project.
Here are some tips:
Tip 1: If you are commissioning an app, software or website, make accessibility part of the contract – refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2 (WCAG 2.0) and British Standard 8878. Ideally, include disabled users in your testing.
Tip 2: If you are using an online platform to create your website, use ‘accessible’ themes and plugins, and keep the following in mind:
Tip 3: Design pages so that users may customise their experience of them – changing colours, the size of text, or buttons. Use responsive layouts that will work on different devices
Tip 4: Always let users know where they are and how they get to somewhere else. Create alternative routes to suit different requirements, like a ‘skip to main content’ link.
Tip 5: Make sure that every action that can be performed using a mouse can be achieved using the keyboard alone. Keyboard only users need to see where they are at all times when they navigate using the TAB key, and tabbing should follow a logical order. Test how easy it is to navigate using only the TAB, ENTER, SPACE and ARROW keys. Ever get frustrated by moving objects, adverts popping up…? It isn’t just annoying – flashing content can cause seizures, while some people with cognitive impairments find it really hard to concentrate if there are distractions.
Tip 6: Give the user control – provide a pause button, and don’t set audio or video to play automatically.
Tip 7: Choose a video player that allows you to add captions, and provide a text transcript, to make audio and video content accessible. Include descriptions of any important visual information as well as speech.
Tip 8: If an image is important, contains text or is a link, explain this with ‘alternative text’ that screen reader software can read out to users with visual impairments.
Tip 9: Is your text in easy-to-understand language? Use short, simple sentences to aid readability and engage a wider audience.
Tip 10: Give each page a title, and organise the text using headings, paragraphs and lists. Add ‘mark up’ to enable easier navigation and explain features to people who can’t see them – this applies to documents in Word or PDFs as well as webpages.
Tip 11: Make sure that links stand out clearly from surrounding text and let users know if the link will open in a new window or download a document. Links need to be concise and descriptive so that if they are read on their own, people will still know where they go.
Tip 12: Test text and background colour combinations and contrast online to ensure text can be easily read by people who are colour-blind or have impaired vision. If your webpage ‘times out’ before people are able to complete forms, this can be a very frustrating experience –
Tip 13: Give visitors time to extend their session if they wish.
Tip 14: Explain accessibility improvements you’ve made and why, in an accessibility statement and provide easy ways for people to contact you if they are having difficulty. Spam protection like CAPTCHA may shut out potential customers not just spam robots.
Tip 15: Please use alternatives [to CAPTCHA] – such as text-based logic problems, or simple human user confirmations. Let’s make sure digital technologies are as usable and inclusive as possible.
We will all benefit! This video can’t cover everything, and technology and best practice are always evolving.
For more help and information go to http://citizensonline.org.uk/accessibilitytips
Thanks to the Digital Accessibility Centre [http://digitalaccessibilitycentre.org]
DIG Inclusion [diginclusion.com] and the Fix the Web Steering group [http://fixtheweb.net] for this animation, made by Tinmouse.