Digital accessibility means building experiences that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age, ability or technology. It's about providing content in different ways, so people can receive it in a way that meets their needs, not assuming that everyone wants the same thing.
Digital accessibility encompasses every communication channel from your website to your Facebook page, consumed on all devices from desktops through to IPTVs.
Accessibility is an essential component of a great user experience. Great user experiences make it easier for people to engage with your brand, access your information, and support your cause.
A key part of accessibility is making text alternatives available for graphical, audio and video content. Traditionally these kinds of content cannot be indexed by search engines, but text can be.
The Equality Act in the UK and the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland require that organisations make their digital (and non digital) services accessible to people with disabilities.
Accessible websites are available to millions of people with disabilities. A conservative estimate suggests that at least 17% of the UK population has some form of disability. That's around 11 million more people your message could reach!
Accessibility is the right thing to do. It also helps encourage brand loyalty and word of mouth recognition. It's also an opportunity to send out a very positive PR message.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are the most well recognised benchmark for web accessibility. Conformance with WCAG is divided into three levels: A, AA and AAA.
The principles of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines can be applied to many different technologies, including PDF, email, multimedia and mobile apps/.
The best way to successfully achieve digital accessibility is to think about it from the beginning. Develop a plan, put it into action, then continue following the plan.
British Standard (BS)8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice explains how to create and implement a web accessibility strategy. It costs £100 to buy a copy for yourself, and is also available from your local lending library.
Assigning responsibility for accessibility to one person (who may themselves lead a team), gives accessibility ownership within your organisation.
An organisational policy should define your accessibility goals, reference any related policy documents, and point to supporting resources that people can use as the policy is implemented.
Web product is a term introduced in BS8878 to refer to websites, intranets, online applications and other browser based technologies. Each web product should have a web accessibility policy of its own.
There are 16 steps that should be documented for every web product. They represent choices made throughout the entire lifecycle of a web product, from inception through to termination.
Find resources that your team can use to build up their knowledge. Good starting points include: Opera Web Standards Curriculum ( http:// www.opera.com /company/education/curriculum/ ) Nomensa Humanising Technology blog ( http:// www.nomensa.com /blog ) W3C Web Accessibility Initiative ( http://www.w3.org/wai/ )
Test as regularly as you can throughout your development lifecycle. Test your wireframes, designs, templates and finished web products against the goals you define in your BS8878 organisational policy.
Invite people with disabilities to be part of your web product development process. Focus groups, individual testing sessions, surveys and informal conversations can all help you understand the experiences of people with disabilities.
It's easy to focus on accessibility for launch, but it's important to continue your hard work for the entire lifetime of your web product. Put in place a programme of regular checks, and if you add new features make sure you follow the same rigorous process you followed for the web product itself.
Delivering digital accessibility (2011)
Delivering Digital AccessibilityLéonie Watson, Director of Accessibility and Web Development
BS8878 Responsibility Identify a person within your organisation who has responsibility for web accessibility.
BS8878 Organisationalpolicy Create a web accessibility policy for your organisation, and make everyone aware of it.
BS8878 Web productpolicies For each web product your organisation is responsible for, create a web accessibility policy that documents your choices.
BS8878 Web productsteps BS8878 includes 16 steps that should be documented in your web product accessibility policy; Steps include defining requirements, choosing technologies, and testing with people with disabilities.