When starting user testing and actual usability of the website I also thought about accessibility because it can only be usable if it is accessible. Accessibility is a word used to describe if a product whether a website or mobile site can be used by people of all abilities and disabilities and in what ways can they be inaccessible?
What is Accessibility?
It is thought that a website is should be accessible to all people whether disabled or able bodied or elderly.
On a website, accessibility depends on how a person’s disability affects the way they perceive information and how they navigate within and between pages.
Elements that affect accessibility include (http://www.bbc.co.uk/accessibility/best_practice/what_is.shtml):
- For people who can’t see very well: the colours and the contrast between colours; the size of text; the choice of fonts
- For people who are blind: how a screenreader interprets the elements on a page (for example, alt tags for images, and title tags for links); the inclusion of audio description for video content
- For people who can’t hear very well: how any audio content is represented graphically (for example, including subtitles or signing on video content)
- For people who find a keyboard or mouse hard to use: the ease with which someone can navigate to parts of the page (for instance, by tabbing); auto-completion of forms
- For people who find words difficult: the length of sentences and paragraphs; the complexity of the vocabulary; the choice of fonts and size of text; the availability of spelling checkers and word prediction; the opportunity to have text read out loud
According to W3C (https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php): The Web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life: education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, and more. It is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. An accessible Web can also help people with disabilities and elderly people more actively participate in society.
Further research into accessibility highlighted you can actually be breaking the law if your site is not accessible to disabled users.
The law and Accessibility
If your business has a website, it should be accessible to disabled users. Along with ethical and commercial justifications for this there is also a legal reason: if your website does not meet certain design standards, then you could be sued for discrimination.
So far there have been two cases, actions were initiated by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), and both out of court. Although the companies weren’t named it is a battle which any business would want to avoid.
More information on the law and accessibility: http://www.out-law.com/page-330
I thought Centre Parcs Accessibility policy very interesting, they include a statement signed by their Director’s and Chairman expressing their commitment to equal access to all.
According to Site Improve web accessibility is about allowing people with and without disabilities to have access to the information they want and need from your website. With a reported 1 in 5 people living with some sort of disability, organisations need to ensure that their websites are both functional and efficient for every user.
Site Improve offer a service and an accessibility review of your website see link below:
Site Improve do not mention costs on their inital screen, it could be thought especially for larger companies and brands that this is a factor in the design of their website they cannot afford to ignore. However regardless of the size of an organisation behind a website this is an area that should be incorporated from the discovery and design stages as the user experience is a huge factor in the success or your site and you cannot provide a good user experience for all if not accessible to all.