Accessibility of a website or application is an important consideration to include in the design process. We understand that and have taken steps to help you provide a compliant service. We can also undertake reviews of your existing website to offer advice on compliance issues and how to resolve them to stay within the law and also to provide a more user friendly environment accessible to a wider customer base.
Designing an accessible website or application (service) in short means that it will be available to the widest possible audience. Allowing anyone regardles of their operating system, browser, technical ability or disablilty to gain the fullest possible benefit.
This concern has always existed to providing the ability for users with different browsers or operating systems to have access to all facilities but was brought sharply into focus with the implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) which states that it is unlawful to provide a service which offers lower levels of accessibility to disabled users. This legislation extends to websites and applications and means that if it can be proved that the owner has not made "reasonable efforts" to provide a service that is not degraded when used by someone with a disability they could face legal action.
Not withstanding the legal compliance issues, it is accepted that a significant percentage of the population suffers from a disablity of some sort that would affect their ability to use such a service; so by providing for a larger cross section of the population you not only increase your potential audience but also improve the public perception of your company.
It is important to consider also that the term disability does not just refer to a visual or audio impairment. Dyslexia affects a large amount of people in varying degrees as does lower hand eye co-ordination. By providing simple easy to use navigation and ensuring that content is simple and concise all goes towards making a website more accessible.
Taking "reasonable efforts" to make your website or application accessible is not as hard as it would appear despite the enormous amounts of different situations to consider.
In an effort to provide an industry standard, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is working with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to provide guidelines on the accessibility and design of websites. Simply providing the ability to make the text larger or providing a non graphical user interface while addressing some issues is not enough. Some users cannot use a mouse or require a special application to read content from a screen to them. A set of compliance guidelines have been issued for websites:
- Priority Level A
This is the basic set of guidelines that any website should comply to
- Priority Level AA
Widely accepted as an industry standard and will allow most disabled users to access your website
- Priority Level AAA
The highest level of accessibility
By ensuring that a website complies to at least Priority Level A you can know that you have made a sizable effort to ensure you have done your part to comply with the DDA and the needs of your customers and have provided a user friendly environment for them. The principles and thinking behind these guidelines can and should also be applied to application development to ensure that the most user friendly environment is created.