This Thursday, May 21, marks the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), celebrated across the world to bring to light the importance of opening up work, education, and social opportunities to as many people as possible.
A large section of the population is disabled in some way; in the UK alone at least 11 million people – over 15% of the population- have some form of impairment. The level of online effectiveness and satisfaction experienced by people with disabilities is significantly lowered when the needs of these users are not taken into account. It is estimated that at least 80% of sites fail to meet minimum requirements for accessibility.
Digital inclusion isn’t only about whether people can access the internet: it’s also about their ability to use it. 22% of UK adults (11.9m people) are classified as not having the Essential Digital Skills needed for day-to-day life, according to the 2019 Lloyds Consumer Digital Index.
But what does it mean for your business?
Ensuring that you’re keeping up to date on best practice in the digital accessibility arena isn’t easy, but there some basic rules of thumb that you can follow. The following fifteen tips are supported by a page on the Citizens Online website providing further information and links to other resources and organisations, including British Standard 8878 and the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).
In summary, the fifteen tips are:
- Make accessibility part of the contract when commissioning apps, software or websites
- Use themes and plugins deemed ‘accessible’ when using Content Management Sites
- Allow users to customise their experience of pages, and use responsive layouts
- Always let users know where they are and how they get to somewhere else
- Make sure that every action can be completed using the keyboard alone
- Give the user control over moving content
- Provide captions and transcripts for audio and visual content
- Add ‘Alternative Text’ to images
- Make your text easy to understand
- Organise your text and add ‘mark up’ to make the structure and features perceivable
- Make links stand out clearly from surrounding text
- Test text and background colour combinations
- Let visitors extend their sessions
- Provide an accessibility statement
- Use alternatives to CAPTCHA
So make sure you’re up to date and get involved on Thursday. There is a range of activities planned, with beginners especially welcome. In addition, the UK government is taking a lead on laying out how businesses should run their digital operations with accessibility in mind.
Indeed BEIS is running a number of sessions, from how to carry out basic checks, to a look at typical accessibility fails. There’s even a Marie Kondo-inspired session looking at decluttering your website.
At Paul Beare Ltd we’re committed not only to providing a properly accessible service to our clients but also to helping those same clients make sure they’re taking the right steps themselves. So, if you’re in need of advice or support, We’re right here for all your needs, and you can contact us for help in a number of areas, from tax and payroll to accounting and banking.