Purple View Point
Purple believe having accessible communications with both your staff and customer base is vital to running a successful organisation and web accessibility plays a key part in this.
There is currently around 11 million disabled people in the UK which equates to 19% of the population, almost 1 in 5 of us. This is a huge market for any target audience to ignore. From a commercial point of view, it would seem un-business-like to ignore this section of the population, when the UK government estimates that the disabled consumer spending power is currently worth £249 billion per year.
Online information and shops should be open for everyone, but what if you can’t use a mouse, or see the screen, or hear the sound? The UK’s population are demanding to benefit from the opportunities provided online. But many retailers still don’t design and build their websites to include everyone, turning away millions of customers and an estimated £11 billion in annual sales. With the advances in web technologies, there is no longer an excuse that it is too costly or time consuming to adapt your website into an accessible one.
What is Web Accessibility? Web accessibility is about actively designing, developing, and creating content in such a way that it does not hinder any person from interacting with the website. Web accessibility means that disabled people – with the widest range of impairments – can use the web. More specifically, web accessibility means that disabled people can perceive, understand, navigate, interact, and contribute with/to the web.
As indicated above, the Clickaway Pound survey in 2016 showed that UK businesses missed out on £11.75 billion from websites being inaccessible, as users would simply click away from a website they find difficult to use.
Advice & Guidance
- Undertake an audit of your current website in terms of accessibility. Put together a development plan for improvements. Some will be quick wins and others will require a bit more planning.
- In terms of priorities review whether your site is accessible from mobile devices. More and more users are accessing content from smartphones and tablets.
- Go back to basics. For example – ensure all images have Alt Tags (?) and are described correctly and numbered in the correct sequence.
- Consider your current environment. Think about the content on your site and the speed that it loads when making changes as not everyone has high speed broadband!
- Consider using alternative methods of providing the same information. For example, are you using colour as the only visual means of conveying information?
- Familiarise yourself with national accessibility standards (WCAG 2.0) and use this as a benchmark for the audit described above.
- Invest in testing user groups as part of your web accessibility strategy. Use your disabled staff as customers to provide the necessary insights. The user experience is a vital component in web accessibility.
- Train one of your staff members on web accessibility to enable them to support internal and external audiences.
- If you commission an external web developer, ensure you ask about their web accessibility credentials in any engagement and monitoring discussions.
- Individuals will use assistive technologies such as screen readers and magnifiers. Make sure your website enables them to work as a bare minimum, and include in your development plan.