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Over the years, websites have transformed from simple text-based pages to interactive and dynamic personalised user experiences. Website accessibility was introduced several years ago and is becoming increasingly important to date. In the digital era, ensuring that websites are accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, has become an essential aspect of website development.
In this article, we’ll explore the importance of website accessibility and discuss how web developers can create more inclusive and user-friendly websites.
Website accessibility is the practice of designing and developing websites that cater to the needs of all users, including those with disabilities. It allows the web to be more inclusive, ensuring that everyone can access, navigate, and interact with online content without barriers.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This is a set of recommendations to make website content more accessible. These guidelines have become the global standard for website accessibility, offering web developers a roadmap to build websites that can be accessed and enjoyed by all users.
WCAG recommendations are organised into three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA.
In the UK, public sector organisations must ensure that their websites and mobile applications conform to WCAG 2.1 Level AA accessibility standards. This was introduced in September 2018, with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018. Public sector bodies are also required to publish an accessibility statement on their websites, detailing the level of compliance and any known accessibility issues.
While the Accessibility Regulations specifically apply to public sector organisations, private sector businesses are still subject to the broader requirements of the Equality Act 2010. It is considered best practice for all organisations in the UK to strive for WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance, as it helps meet legal obligations under the Equality Act and ensures a more inclusive web experience for all users.
Many nations have adopted or aligned their website accessibility guidelines with WCAG.
However, different countries may have specific requirements or variations in the way they enforce website accessibility standards. Here are a few examples:
While there may be variations in the specific regulations and enforcement methods, the WCAG serves as the primary reference point for website accessibility standards worldwide.
To achieve compliance with accessibility standards, web developers should aim for WCAG compliance as well as adhering to country-specific requirements. Accessibility should be implemented appropriately through website design, development, and testing practices.
The role of website accessibility is important for organisations and website developers for many reasons. Here are just some of them:
Let’s discuss the importance of website accessibility in more detail…
Accessibility is a fundamental human right, and making websites accessible to everyone is a social responsibility. By creating accessible websites, developers can break down barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in the digital world. This not only ensures inclusivity but also fosters a sense of belonging among all users.
In several countries, website accessibility is a legal requirement. For example, in the UK, public sector bodies must comply with WCAG 2.1 Level AA accessibility standards, or they could face hefty fines.
An accessible website not only benefits users with disabilities but also improves the overall user experience for all visitors. A well-designed, accessible site is typically easier to navigate, more responsive, and has better content structure. Moreover, accessibility features often overlap with best practices for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which can lead to improved search rankings and increased website traffic.
By ensuring website accessibility, businesses can tap into the spending power of users with disabilities, who represent a significant demographic. Accessible websites can also appeal to older users, who may experience age-related impairments. In short, making a website accessible can help businesses reach a broader audience and maximise their potential customer base.
Whether you’re developing a new website, or updating your existing one, you should consider the following factors to ensure website accessibility:
Here at Codeminers, we’re a website development company, offering custom web development solutions. We’re experts in website accessibility, so our custom built websites will always adhere to the latest website accessibility standards.
If you have an upcoming website project and are interested to hear more about our web development services, then contact us for a chat.