Jackie Latham, founder of Jackdaw Web Design, is an expert in accessibility for websites. And here she discusses whether your website falls into the legislation that says you must have accessibility features.
“As you will have read in my previous blog, accessible websites work better for everyone. They are often faster, easier to use and appear higher in search engine rankings. They help you talk with more people,
“But if you’re still not convinced, did you know you may actually be breaking the law if your website does not meet accessibility requirements?
“This mainly applies to public sector (apart from schools and nurseries which are partially exempt), but also expands to non-government organisations like charities or public sector broadcasters which are:
- mostly financed by public funding
- provide services that are essential to the public or
- aimed at disabled people
“But note that there is an exemption clause if creating the accessible website would be a disproportionate burden on the organisation.
“These accessibility regulations came into force for public sector websites from 23rd September 2019, but you may be more surprised to learn that the accessibility for commercial websites in the UK is covered by the Equality Act 2010. As far as anyone is aware, the act has never been tested in law, although a few organisations have settled before reaching court including The Royal Institute for the blind.
“The World Wide Web Consortium states:
“Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can: perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web.”
“According to gov.uk, common negligence is often found with websites that are not easy to use on a mobile or cannot be navigated using a keyboard, inaccessible PDF forms that cannot be read out on screen readers, and poor colour contrast that makes text difficult to read - especially for visually impaired people.
“It is currently thought that 4 out of 10 local authority homepages failed basic tests for accessibility, so imagine how many healthcare, charity and service websites are not up to scratch?
For businesses which trade in the EU there is also new European legislation to take into consideration. These changes will ensure that life will be made easier for at least 87 million people – almost one in five Europeans – who have disabilities, including many older people, and for those who have a temporary impairment. The new rules will facilitate these people’s access to websites, as well as public transport, banking services, computers, TVs, e-books, online shops, and much more. For persons with disabilities, accessibility is a precondition for participation in society on equal basis with others. To read more visit the instruction online portal here.
“2023 onwards there is going to be so much focus on getting inclusivity right and accessibility is a huge part of that. Why not get it on target now as part of your strategy and governance?
“It is not an expensive exercise and with the right consultant brought in to do it, you can improve your website to make it as accessible as possible for as many people as possible and do the right things. These include an accessibility statement, the correct documents and the best ways to navigate the site; a good consultant should also be able to help where accessibility isn’t possible, to ensure the website provides an alternative or states a reasonable explanation why in a visible way.”
You can contact Jackie to test your website and provide a report on making sure your website is fully accessible. She can then either consult with your web team or deliver the service to your website herself.