Did you know that the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) mandates websites be accessible by visually and physically disabled persons?
If you are designing a website in the UK you have an obligation to make your website available and accessible to anyone who wishes to visit it, and this includes those who fall under the DDA.
FACT: According to a report published by the Danish Center for Accessibility as many as 25% of the worlds Internet users have some form of visual, auditory or mobility disability.
Firstly, so that you can provide adequately for your users it is important to know what challenges users can face in terms of accessibility.
- Using old, out-of-date and unsupported browsers, or specially designed browsers that don’t function in the same way as those that we are typically used to, such as text-to-speech services.
- Colorblind users who struggle to distinguish between your colour coded navigation and order buttons.
- Poorer and Lower screen resolutions where the user may require a larger font display to easily read the content.
- Users that suffer motor impairment that may not necessarily use the same pointing devices that you would expect a typical user to have.
Luckily, in order to maintain some kind of standard the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published a series of Web Standards, of which the main focus of your research should be the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines )WCAG) 2.0.
There are of course a number of tools that various companies have developed to help you ensure your website is as standards compliant as possible. Here we’ll take a look at a few examples.
Tools for Design
WAVE is a free web accessibility evaluation tool provided by WebAIM. It is used to aid humans in the complex technical report, WAVE shows the original web page with embedded icons and indicators. Simply submit your URL and click WAVE this page!
COLOR ORACLE is a simple colorblindness simulator for Windows, Mac and Linux systems. It allows you to remove the guesswork from your design process.
IMAGE ANALYSER examines all your images found a given web page and checks them for accessibility issues.
READABILITY TESTING allows you to perform simple tests on your web page text to determine its level of readability.
Use Accessibility Tools
There are a whole range of free and low-cost tools available online to help you with your web accessibility quest. The W3C maintains a full list of the commonly used tools.
The Future of Web Accessibility Design
The UK obviously has accessibility laws, as does the USA, but as time moves on it appears highly likely that other countries will introduce similar legislation, meaning that you are at risk of breaking them. By ensuring that your website is designed with accessibility in mind from the outset will ensure you provide a legal service in the future.