Accessibility and Accessible Design
Why is it important to be accessible?
Reach the widest audience possible
Your customers are a diverse group of people with a wide variety of skills and experience. They may also be faced with physical and technological disabilities which can make accessing the web problematic. If your website is accessible every member of your target audience can get your message giving you the widest audience possible. The following statistics help illustrate the type of disabilities that hinder web use:
- There are 8.6 million disabled people in Britain, that's one in five of the total population. (Source: Monitoring the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995)
- Colour blindness affects 7% of males and 0.5% of females. Thats more than 3% of the population. (Source: Everyeye)
- From the age of about 40 … as people age their vision becomes more blurred; they can see big things just as well, but have difficulty with the details. (Source: Everyeye)
- About 2 million people in the UK (over 3%) have significant sight loss and over 350 thousand (0.6%) are registered blind or partially sighted. (Source: RNIB)
- Using a mouse is difficult or impossible for a large minority of users with restricted movement and/or control of their hands and arms. (Source: Access IT)
There are also technological considerations from access to broadband to outdated company software. Thus if you make your website accessible you are reaching the maximum number of customers possible.
Disability Discrimination Act Compliance
Making your website accessible makes economic sense but is also a legal requirement. In order to be compliant with the DDA the RNIB recommend your website should at minimum meet the basic Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and aim for Double AA. For more information read the RNIB article on accessibility and UK law
This is what the DDA says:
Where a provider of services has a practice, policy or procedure which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled persons to make use of a service which he provides, or is prepared to provide, to other members of the public, it is his duty to take such steps as it is reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, for him to have to take in order to change that practice, policy or procedure so that it no longer has that effect.