Are your website and apps accessibility ready? Five tips to get you started
With one in five people in the UK reporting a disability, digital accessibility is essential. All digital users deserve to have equal access to information and functionality. Websites and apps need to be appropriately designed, developed and edited.
The looming deadline
From September 2020, all public sector websites and apps must meet accessibility requirements. These regulations will make sure online public services are accessible for all users, with a disability or not. If you need an update, there’s more on this here.
Is this only for councils?
No, everyone should consider accessibility, it shouldn’t just be for the public sector. Your staff, customers or patients could have disabilities and that shouldn’t be a barrier to using your website and apps. Accessible websites and apps open up services to everyone. They improve user experience and make things faster and easier to use. Accessibility also benefits websites by ranking them higher in search results.
It’s for everyone not just public services. Here are some standards
There is a global standard for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).
W3C publish an internationally recognised set of recommendations about how to make digital services, websites and apps accessible to everyone and improve web accessibility.
Netcall’s here to help our customers with accessibility
Accessibility is a fundamental requirement of every app development tool. For Liberty Create we test every version to make sure that user interfaces can achieve WCAG 2.1. Our latest version (Liberty Create 2020.1) adds new capabilities. It can help you build accessible apps and websites more quickly. Call us if you need help upgrading to the latest version.
Accessibility dev approach
There are useful external resources that can help with making systems accessible.
There are external bodies such as the Digital Accessibility Centre (DAC) in Cardiff that can help with your accessibility efforts. They are a non-profit organisation that provide testing and other services. We’ve used them and you can too. Find out more about them here.
The way you create matters
Accessibility can’t really be added as an afterthought. It needs to be baked in from the outset. Taking time and care with the user interface (UI) but is especially important, but it’s not the only consideration. Consider asking staff who feel they have challenges to be testers and request their input. We’d also recommend testing using a specialist external agency or software. This will give you an objective reassurance of wide testing as well as ongoing learning for your internal teams.
Some suggestions to test accessibility
There are some automated tools that can help but they’re no substitute for real-world testing. One worth considering is the WAVE browser plugin. WAVE is a web accessibility evaluation tool developed by WebAIM.org. It provides visual feedback about the accessibility of your web content by injecting icons and indicators into your page. WAVE highlights areas for human evaluation and educates your team about accessibility issues. All analysis is done entirely within the Chrome & Firefox browsers. See an example test here:
Our top tips for accessibility
Here are our Top-5 tips for achieving WCAG 2.1 accessibility adherence:
1. Consider your page theme/styling. Keeping it ‘simple’ gives you the best chance of achieving accessibility. There is a very good reason the gov.uk website looks as simple and streamlined as it is.
2. When creating your pages follow the GDS ‘patterns’, even if you’re not a public sector organisation. A pattern tells you how to layout the fields for entering address, dates, emails, names, basically any field types. See them here.
3. Test, test, test… Try the solutions you’ve created on different browsers and devices, including assistive technologies like screen readers.
Then confirm what you’ve created. Use either the WAVE plugin or an organisation like DAC.
4. And finally review everything annually. Low-code allows flexible fast changes. Your changes and updates to accessibility regulations mean accessibility review is essential. Schedule an annual review and to remain compliant.
Need more help?
We know of various other organisations that can offer specialist support. Perhaps you need to audit your solutions, or get advice on your theme or page structures? If that’s the case, then feel free to get in touch via our Community forum and we’ll be happy to make some suggestions. Our team goal is to make sure that you are able to build useful solutions, fast!