According to the latest estimates from the Family Resources Survey between 2020 to 2021, one in five people in the UK reported a disability – a total of 14.6 million people.
Although not all disabilities impact internet use, organisations should act and remove any digital accessibility barriers to create a more inclusive world online.
We live in an ever-changing world, and the Covid-19 outbreak played an important role in altering the way people interact and access information online.
In this post, we are going to outline the importance of digital accessibility, highlighting some of the key principles to help your organisation deliver a more accessible website.
What is digital accessibility?
Digital accessibility allows people with disabilities to use, navigate and interact with websites, tools, and other digital assets.
However, there isn’t a one size fit all description for website accessibility, since it covers wide range of conditions, including:
- Vision: Visual impairments
- Mobility: Motor difficulties
- Thinking and understanding: Cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
- Hearing: Deadness or hard of hearing
Creating an accessible website means anyone can use and interact with your content, whether it’s via screen readers that help read out the content, speech recognition, or eye-tracking software.
Why is website accessibility important?
With more and more people using internet and relying on the web to do everyday activities, web accessibility should be part of the overall diversity strategy for all organisations.
Web accessibility is also a legal requirement in the UK. The Equality Act 2010 stabilises that all UK service providers are legally required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people. However, there are other factors that will benefit organisations when making efforts to improve web accessibility. Some of these include:
- Improving overall users experience – this has become an important ranking factor
- Enhancing your brand presence
- Increasing your market reach
- Better indexing your video and audio content
How to improve your website accessibility?
Organisations are required to meet the international WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standards, which are a set of recommendations to help improve web accessibility.
Here are some recommendations that would help enhance your SEO, user experience, and accessibility:
Use HTML heading tags (H1, H2, H3…H6) to structure your content. This will help screen readers navigate the content by headings, and help search engines understand the hierarchy of the page. The H1 tag is the main description of a page and an important ranking factor.
Use descriptive page titles to help users understand what the page is about without needing to read or interpret the content on the page. Page titles are an important ranking factor, so it’s recommended to have unique and descriptive titles for each page.
Use anchor text that describe the purpose of the link, to help users understand and decide whether they want to follow it. Internal linking also helps search engines understand the hierarchy of the site and the relation between the pages.
Add descriptive Alt text in your image elements to help users with visual impairment understand the appearance of the image. Alt attributes are also indexable by search engines, which helps them better understand the content on the page.
Being consistent with page layout helps users with cognitive limitations and visual impairments to interact with your content, as they will recognise the patterns and find it easier to locate specific information.
Usually located at the top of the page, breadcrumbs help with overall page experience as they indicate where the page sits on the site. The path links back to each page, making it easier to go back to the previous page or the homepage. Using breadcrumbs is particularly helpful for people with short attention span.
There’s no doubt about how important web accessibility is, especially with the increase in internet usage and the way users access critical information these days. Organisations should lead the way accommodate a more inclusive digital world by making small changes that could make a big impact on individuals with disabilities.