Making your website more accessible helps you to break down barriers to your organisation and its services. As well as increasing accessibility for disabled people, it’s likely that all your audiences will benefit. There is a lot of information out there about digital accessibility and it can seem overwhelming. In this two-part series (read part one first), Dyfan Wyn Owen, partner in Writing Services, summarises some of the things you can learn from the industry-standard ‘Introduction to Web Accessibility’ course created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)*.
We’ve included links for those who want to delve further, but if you’re a small organisation with limited time and resources, there are still things that you can do that will make a difference to many of your website visitors. Ask for help from your web developer, make sure the work is part of your core strategies and work plans, and focus on one aspect of accessibility at a time. Starting somewhere is better than waiting to do everything perfectly.
6. Talk to your website designer/developer about accessibility
Ask them if they have any experience or training in making websites accessible, and if not, ask them if they would be willing to undertake some training and signpost them to this article or its links and resources.
Ask them to suggest how you would go about auditing and improving your website, and what recommendations they could make. For example, they may be able to tell you about the accessibility standards that your platform conforms to, such as these WordPress standards:
7. Prioritise the issues you want to address
Start with issues that are easier to fix, to help build motivation in the team and demonstrate success. For example:
Install software that can provide immediate improvements, like this plugin, which enables users to increase fonts, highlight links, change colours through an accessibility sidebar (free and paid-for versions are available):
Another easy fix is to make sure your hyperlinks are descriptive. Links should spell out what they’re linking to, to make it easier for screen readers to navigate – so Learn more about health is better than Click here.
Consider other ways to move the work forward and embed it in your organisation’s ongoing activities eg:
- make sure that a named person is responsible for moving the work forward
- develop accessible guidelines, templates and resources to help you create accessible content for the web (there are useful factsheets and webinars on AbilityNet)
- consider accessibility in any re-branding you may be planning
Two useful starting points for deciding how to improve accessibility are:
- Tips for Getting Started with Web Accessibility – introduces some basic design, writing and developing considerations for making your website more accessible to people with disabilities
- Web Accessibility Tutorials – provides guidance and examples on how to create specific components of websites to meet WCAG.
8. Involve users
Involving users is helpful for any web development project. It’s even more important when you’re addressing barriers to access:
- Involving Users in Web Projects for Better, Easier Accessibility describes the benefits of involving users in projects and how to go about it
- Involving Users in Evaluating Web Accessibility goes into more depth about how and when to engage users
9. Include accessibility in your Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and/or your business/communications strategies and plans
The W3C course suggests creating a web accessibility policy. See Developing an Organizational Policy on Web Accessibility, Developing an Accessibility Statement., and the accessibility statement generator tool.
As a small organisation, this may be unnecessary and it may be more likely to get traction and be monitored within one of your existing strategies, plans or policies.
10. Finally, keep up to date with policies, standards, and new technologies …
… or ask your web developer to include this in your contract with them. There are currently two versions of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG):
- WCAG 2.0 ( December 2008) – widely adopted as the standard for web accessibility. It defines 12 Guidelines under the four POUR principles, with 61 Success Criteria divided into three Conformance Levels: A, AA, and AAA.
- WCAG 2.1 (June 2018), which better addresses accessibility for people with cognitive and learning disabilities, people with low vision, and people with disabilities using mobile devices. If your content conforms to WCAG 2.1 it also conforms to WCAG 2.0. WCAG 2.1 has 13 Guidelines and 78 Success Criteria.
See W3C’s Web Accessibility Laws & Policies page for more detail.
* W3C’s ‘Introduction to Web Accessibility’ course is the gold standard for web accessibility. It’s part of the W3Cx training programme, developed by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in cooperation with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.