The word accessibility is used to describe whether something can be used by everyone, regardless of ability. Digital accessibility is referring to websites and apps ensuring that people with disabilities (permanent, temporary or situational) find them easy to use. 

At least 15% of the world’s population - one billion people - have a recognised disability. There are many ways in which a person’s disability may affect the way they perceive information online, and how they navigate within pages. 

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organisation for the Web. One of the standards created by the W3C is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Now in version 2.1, WCAG is a set of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. 

Why is it important?

As the W3C state:

“Businesses that integrate accessibility are more likely to be innovative, inclusive enterprises that reach more people with positive brand messaging that meets emerging global legal requirements.”

Having become a staple within business strategy, disability inclusion is increasingly becoming a key component of an organisation’s digital strategy. Accessibility is good for business for many reasons, including: 

  • For every ethical and socially responsible organisation, it’s simply the right thing to do
  • In the UK alone the disability market, the so-called Purple Pound, is worth an estimated £249 billion every year
  • To maximise your website’s traffic and user base - if there are fewer barriers to accessing content, it’s likely that more people will use your website
  • Many accessibility guidelines coincide with UX and SEO best practices and so making a site accessible for people with disabilities will also make it easier to find and better to use for everyone
  • And last but not least, for public sector websites and apps, it’s not a choice - it’s a legal requirement

More information on this can be found in the W3C’s article, The Business Case for Digital Accessibility.

How do we create an accessible digital experience?

How can we tell whether a website or an app is accessible? The answer is by checking it against international accessibility standards - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. While it is easier to build a fresh site adhering to the guidelines, remediation can also be done to improve the accessibility of an existing site. 

Assessing the accessibility of your website can be done in two ways: by using automated testing tools or carrying out a manual audit. Read more about the Pros and cons of a manual vs automated accessibility audit.

Accessibility isn’t a one-off task, but an ongoing commitment.  An audit can help you both establish your current state of accessibility, and then can be used as a tool to check in as your site grows and evolves. 

Following an automated and manual audit, you could look at usability testing with people with disabilities so that further improvements can be made to your site. Regular automated testing, manual testing and training sessions for content authors and developers contributing to the site will help maintain its high level of accessibility and prevent new issues.

Your next steps

Online services are a critical part of modern life. Building accessibility into your digital strategy is ensuring that all people can access the information they need. 

Get in touch with us today to find out how you can embark upon your accessibility journey.