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Caren Launus-Gamble of KreativeInc

Caren Launus-Gamble

Web Accessibility – You Should Be Very Bothered!

Web accessibility - You should be very bothered!

Why?
Apart from it being a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010, the commercial opportunities are simply too great to dismiss.

The Coronavirus crisis has caused a dramatic shift towards digital transactions. Can you afford to lose customers because your website is inaccessible to them?

Botheration Point #1 – Legal Requirement

Under the Equality Act 2010, your website has to be accessible to all users, and that includes people with impairments such as dyslexia, autism, blindness, deafness or lacking in motor skills.

Botheration Point #2 – Take Early Action

The UK Government has already introduced a legal duty for public sector bodies to make their websites accessible.

The deadline for public sector organisations to make all existing websites accessible passed on the 23rd of September 2020. The compliance date for mobile applications has been set for the 23rd of June 2021.

It won’t be long before the UK Government will introduce the same for the private sector – especially in the current climate. The Coronavirus crisis has left many disabled and impaired people cut off from the “outside world” and inaccessible websites make life even more difficult for them.

Take action now and be ready!

Botheration Point #3 – Commercial Opportunity

It also makes sense from a commercial viewpoint. If your website isn’t accessible to people with impairments, then what are the chances that they and their friends and family become fans of your business and buy from you? Zero!

Currently, one in five people are registered as disabled in the UK, and only 30% of websites are accessible to them. Businesses are missing out on the huge spending power of these potential customers! The “purple pound” was estimated to be £249 billion a year by the BBC in 2017. The “click-away pound” has risen to £17.1 billion in 2019, the value of the potential lost business when disabled customers leave a site because of accessibility issues. Who can afford to ignore the potential increase in turnover here on fixing this?

Botheration Point #4 – SEO

Having a fully accessible website will also positively affect your best practices and usability scores, going a long way with your search engine optimisation (SEO).

Web accessibility and SEO are both relying on machine-readable content. Actually, search engines and assistive technologies such as the screen readers used by the blind are quite similar.

You could even compare the indexing process to how a disabled person may use a website. The search engine’s crawlers rely on good content structure, easy information interpretation and functionality of a website to be able to rank it. The same applies to disabled and impaired users.

If your website is accessible, it is also optimised for search engines.

Website Accessibility – Current Status Quo

Sadly, 70% of UK websites are still inaccessible, which means:

  • Dyslexic or autistic people cannot access them adequately because they have difficulty deciphering serif fonts (“fancy” fonts) or lengthy paragraphs not broken up into small chunks or bullet points.
  • Screen readers cannot access them. They scan and read out the logical flow of the text content and descriptions of the images on a website to help sight-impaired people with navigating through a site. If the alternative text (Alt-tag) for images and a header structure (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are missing, the device cannot read the site content adequately.
  • People who lack motor skills, preventing them from using a mouse or trackpad, cannot navigate the site by using only the keyboard as the site was not designed that way.
  • Colour-blind people who cannot see text that sits within boxes of a particular colour have great difficulty understanding the site content. The contrast ratio on the site is inadequate.
  • Deaf people are often forgotten when telephone numbers are the only contact option. Or, if you offer video chat without a captions option.

There is a good chance that your website is one of the 70% if it is not designed to accommodate users who have cognitive, visual or motor difficulties.

Check Your Site for Website Accessibility

So, how can you check whether your web developer has created an accessible site for you?

There are online tools available that give your website a score for accessibility. For accuracy, I would recommend the free Wave Website Evaluation Tool.

By entering your URL (domain name) into the audit scan, you can see the errors on your website and click on ‘details’ to view the issues one by one.

Get Help

If you have found that your website has many errors after running the evaluation scan, you should check out the options available to fix your site.

Website Accessibility shouldn’t be something that empties your already slim wallet or gives you more headache. You should see it as an opportunity to make your website legal, open up a new customer base and doing something good for the disadvantaged people in our society.

As Website Accessibility specialist and advocates, we can provide you with redesign and redevelopment as well as AI-powered software solutions to make your website fully accessible. We can also offer you professional manual audits and certification services.

We would love to help you find out what would be the best solution for your business. Feel free to get in touch for some free advice.

We are keen to change the digital landscape into an equal playing field for everyone and are always happy to help.