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Website accessibility and usability

At RNIB, we advocate for inclusive web design practices to ensure that everyone can access and navigate digital content seamlessly.

A person uses a smartphone to access online banking.

What is website accessibility?

Website accessibility refers to the design and development of websites that can be used and accessed by everyone, including those with disabilities such as visual impairments, auditory impairments, motor disabilities, and cognitive impairments. It involves creating digital content that is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users.

Digital content has alternative text for images, captions for videos, and audio descriptions for multimedia elements.

Operable: A website must be navigable and functional for users of all abilities and must be clear of content that may cause seizures or other adverse reactions.

Understandable: Content should be presented in a clear and understandable manner such as using plain language, organising content logically with descriptive headings, and providing instructions and feedback that are easy to comprehend.

Robust for All Users: A website should work with different web browsers and adhere to web standards and compatibility with assistive technologies should be tested to guarantee accessibility for users with diverse needs.

How is website accessibility enforced?

In the UK, web accessibility is not just a matter of ethical responsibility but also a legal obligation outlined in legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. These regulations mandate that websites and digital services must be accessible to all users, regardless of their disabilities. Essentially, compliance with these standards is the baseline requirement for businesses operating in the digital space.

However, meeting the minimum legal requirements does not mean you have taken all the steps to ensure you cater to the diverse needs of all users. Businesses that strive to excel in accessibility often go beyond mere compliance, demonstrating a genuine commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility.

Global corporations like Microsoft have made strides in prioritising accessibility across their products and services. Whilst larger companies like Microsoft have ample resources can indeed invest significantly in accessibility initiatives, accessibility efforts are not exclusive to businesses with big budgets. Even for smaller businesses operating within limited financial means, there are actionable steps that can be taken to enhance accessibility.

Simple steps to make your website more accessible

Improving website accessibility involves implementing various design and development practices. Here are some improvements you can start making today.

  • Provide alternative text for images to ensure that screen readers can convey the content to visually impaired users.
  • Use descriptive headings and proper semantic markup to aid in navigation
  • Ensuring that forms, buttons, and other interactive elements are keyboard accessible. Designing with sufficient colour contrast to accommodate users with low vision
  • Offering text alternatives for multimedia content like videos and audio

By implementing these accessibility improvements, businesses can create digital experiences that are inclusive and accessible to all users.

Important accessibility requirements for the blind and partially sighted

For blind and partially sighted users, additional accessibility features may be necessary.

  • Providing options for resizable text and adjustable text spacing to accommodate users with varying degrees of vision.
  • Offering screen reader-friendly PDF documents and ensuring compatibility with screen reader software.

Addressing these advanced requirements can significantly improve the usability of your website for visually impaired individuals. Attached is a handy resource to help you assess the usability and accessibility of your website.

RNIB website accessibility services

At RNIB, we offer a range of business services aimed at assisting companies in improving the accessibility of their websites and digital services. Our expert consultants provide comprehensive accessibility audits, training workshops, and ongoing support to ensure compliance with accessibility standards and best practices.

By prioritising website accessibility, businesses not only comply with legal requirements but also demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility. Together, we can create a digital landscape that is truly accessible to all.

Contact the Business Services Team to access free tools that can help you start to improve your website accessibility.