What exactly is Web Accessibility?
Web Accessibility means making websites and other digital platforms user-friendly for everyone, including people with special access needs.
This includes people with sight, hearing and physical disabilities as well as cognitive impairments such as autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia and the colour blind, to name just a few. It also affects people with temporary or situational access difficulties such as a broken arm and a noisy or light-sensitive environment.
To be ‘accessible’, digital platforms must be designed and developed so that ALL users can perceive and understand the information provided and navigate and interact with the functionalities of the site easily.
Why should you be very bothered about Web Accessibility?
If you had a shop, would you put obstacles in the way of customers coming through your door or set them some riddles to solve before you let them in?
☝️ In the UK, 70% of websites are doing exactly that! They are not user-friendly and particularly not for people with special access needs and situational limitations.
☝️ 20% of the UK population are registered as disabled – so businesses with ‘unfriendly’ websites are ignoring at least one in five of their potential customers. And this estimate doesn’t include the dyslexic, colour-blind, elderly or others with impairments or limitations not classed as disabilities!
☝️ This ignorance has cost UK businesses £17.1bn in lost revenue in 2019 alone as frustrated site visitors clicked away from their website and a potential sale. 70% of these click-aways will never return. (source: The Click Away Pound Report 2019)
☝️ The “Purple Pound”, the spending power of disabled people and their families, is worth £249bn to the UK economy on an annual basis. Businesses don’t even consider tapping into this market and they are not aware it exists or haven’t even considered that their customers could be found there (source: BBC Report 2017).
☝️☝️☝️ This is why you should be very bothered about having a website that is designed and developed anticipating your customers’ access needs so that everybody can enter your “shop” freely!
Examples of Special Access Needs
These are just a few examples of special access needs. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Five Tips to check if your website has basic accessibility features
Including an alternative text option, ‘Alt Text’, for images is essential to make your website accessible to the assistive technology used by blind and sight-impaired site visitors.
Here’s one easy way to check if your site images have Alt Text:
Move your cursor over the image you want to check. Right-click the image and select “inspect” or “inspect element” from the menu that appears.
You should now see some HTML code lines. Look out for “alt=.” If you can see a text description of the image, then it has alt text. If not, add the alt text in your site’s media folder. If you don’t know how to do this, contact your web developer for guidance.
Keyboard Navigation is vital for users that are blind and use a Braille keyboard or users with motor control or other physical limitations who cannot use a mouse or trackpad. Users with low vision often also prefer to use the keyboard to get around a site.
Here’s an easy way to check if your site can be navigated via the keyboard:
Click the ‘Tab’ key on your keyboard. You should move forward within the site with each click. Can you see at all times exactly where you are on the site, i.e. is there a focus on any text, image or links? Can you navigate and interact with all controls, links and menus in a logical order?
If so, your site has keyboard accessibility.
If not, then your site must be fixed by a web developer to make it keyboard accessible.
Contact form related accessibility problems are the most common issues on a website.
You can test your contact form for the main issues by checking this:
Are your contact form labels clear enough? E.g. are you asking for “Your full name” instead of “Name” etc.? This is important for all people but particularly for those with cognitive issues such as autism. Ambiguity in any context can be frustrating and cause site visitors to click away rather than send the contact message, which could lead to a sale.
Can you see where you are on the contact form whilst you are using it?
Is the cursor moving into the field when you click on the text next to an input field?
Do you get a message after sending the form, and is it easy to spot and understand? It’s important to see whether a click action has had the desired effect.
Are any input errors or omissions highlighted and are you getting an explanation about what the problem is if the form isn’t sending? It is frustrating to any user if they don’t know why the form can’t be submitted.
If you can do all the above, your contact form is accessible. If there are problems, you should ask your web developer to fix them urgently. You could be losing sales otherwise!
Is your website’s colour contrast good enough for customers with low vision, colour blindness, dyslexia or light sensitivity and other cognitive or sight limitations?
To get a free colour contrast analysis of your website, check out this tool https://color.a11y.com/Contrast/. The result will give you a clear overview of the colours used on your website and whether their contrast ratios are compliant with the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG).
If the results are negative, ask your web developer for help.
Mobile responsiveness is important for all site visitors. If you cannot view the website information on a smartphone, tablet or other devices with a small screen, then your site is not user-friendly and therefore not accessible.
The easiest way to check if your site is mobile-friendly is to use Google’s free tool: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly.
The result will also tell you what the issues are if your website is not mobile friendly. You can then ask your web developer to fix these issues.
There is a lot more to web accessibility than the above five basic checks. However, these tips should give you a good first understanding of what is involved in making your website accessible to all your potential customers.
If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts available. For more advice, connect our expert* Richard on LinkedIn.
*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.