Web accessibility for users of all abilities is an ongoing challenge for organisations and their websites. It's estimated that disabled users spend around £50 million per year online in the UK whilst websites delivering public services need to serve the needs of everyone.
Organisations are therefore paying much more attention to ensure that their websites are configured for easy accessibility. But, so too are disability rights groups that have taken several test cases to court concerning non-complying websites!
The UK Equality Act 2010 also places a legal duty on organisations to take reasonable steps to change any business practices which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use their online services.
In April 2004, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published the results of a study of 1,000 websites carried out on its behalf by the City University. This study revealed a very low-level of compliance with accessibility standards.
Services to which the duty towards disabled users applies include access to and use of means of communication and information services, and the services of any profession or trade.
- Address accessibility standards in the contract(s) with your web designer and builder.
- Make sure that you all understand the legal requirements for disabled access to your online services and build the standards into your contract.
- Point out that bodies such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind are becoming increasingly active in singling out websites that are non-compliant.
W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines
The W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines set out current best practice for compliance and web accessibility. You may also want to refer your website designer and builder to the Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites, published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
A well-designed website which is accessible by all can really help users engage with the digital world.
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