Nearly 1 in 5 people in England and Wales are reported to have a disability that limits their daily lives and activities.
For any business, that can equate to a large percentage of their target market. The pressure is, quite rightly, being put on cities and towns to become disabled-friendly and businesses of any size should look to make accessibility a priority.
The definition of accessibility
Accessibility is the degree of availability of a:
• Scenario to as many people as possible, whether they have a disability or not.
And the term encompasses digital experiences too.
Your online business and website accessibility standards
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the organisation that has set Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to an international standard with WCAG 2.0 which was extended to 2.1 in 2018.
There is no legal obligation to adhere to WCAG 2.1 unless you are part of the UK’s Public Sector.
But surely all businesses want their products and services available to as many people as possible.
The W3C accessibility standards WCAG 2.1 is split into three levels:
A, AA, AAA with AAA being the highest standard and most difficult to achieve.
The majority of businesses online should strive to pass AA as this intermediate level is set by the UK’s Government Digital Service.
AA covers a large number of accessibility issues and requirements, bringing your business in line with WCAG compliance.
4 examples of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines at Level AA Standard W3C’s accessibility technical standards are grouped into four principles which are then set against the success criteria levels of A, AA, AAA:
Example 1 – Perceivable – Non-text content should be described
Level A for the perceivable principle covers the need for descriptive assistance with non-text content.
For example, the use of Alt Tags for an image on a website: these are short descriptions that hang around in the Meta of the webpage.
A screen reader will pick the alt tag up and read aloud the accompanying text.
Another example would be any navigation or user input section displayed as non-text that can be described by an easily understood naming convention.
CAPTCHA’s security interface comes to mind as an example of this. Level AA for perceivable concentrates more on audio and video-only media, especially when time-based: as in ‘live’ not pre-recorded.
The standard asks that captions are presented for all live audio content in synchronised digital media.
Example 2 – Operable – Clarity in headings and labels
If your website is keeping to the latest SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) advice then this next AA level operable standard will fit your business’s website seamlessly.
When headings have clarity and labels are descriptive your website visitors and any accessibility tools they are using can find the information they seek more easily.
Content will flow and descriptive labels help users identify specific topics within the content.
Example 3 – Understandable – Keep navigation consistent
Not having consistency across your website, especially when you are expecting people to navigate it flawlessly, is a recipe for abandonment.
Someone using assistive technology that is reading the screen for them is going to find it even more challenging if you’ve ‘moved things around’.
As this AA level standard states, when specific information or functionality needs to be located more than once users look for visual cues.
Keeping important areas of a website consistent helps deliver these and gives your website visitor confidence in themselves and your business.
Example 4 – Robust – Status messages kept in context
As with all ideal online customer journeys the website visitor needs to know they are reaching the goal they want to achieve via status messages.
From someone searching for relevant information about your services to a consumer about to pay at your online checkout, there’s nothing wrong with giving them a virtual helping hand with status messages.
A screen reader giving announcements of progress or errors at the right moment limits any confusion, frustration or, worse still, abandonment.
To sum up As mentioned earlier, your business is not required by law to comply with WCAG 2.1 level AA, unless you’re in the Public Sector i.e. run by the Government.
Your websites and apps should try to adhere to these standards to make them accessible though. Your business should be open to everyone, as this benefits everyone.
The four examples listed above are just a small part of what W3C has put together for accessibility, but they hopefully give you and your business a starting point.
For more information on the website accessibility standards within WCAG 2.1 visit https://www.w3.org
Or why not contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on how your online business can be accessible to everyone.
Alternatively, you can visit www.leantiger.co.uk for more information on our conversion optimisation products and services.