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The key principles of Accessibility - Building a More Inclusive Web

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The key principles of Accessibility 

An accessible website is one that can be easily navigated and understood by all users, including those with disabilities. This means designing web pages in a way that everyone, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, can access the content and functionalities.

 Accessibility involves a range of considerations, from the text size and colour contrast to the inclusion of alternative text for images and ensuring compatibility with screen readers.

The goal is to eliminate barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites by people with a variety of disabilities, thereby creating an inclusive digital world, something we hold dear here at Element 78. Many of our clients are from the NFP and Charity sector for whom the subject of accessibility should be at the forefront of all discussions when considering a new website or website improvements as many of these sites provide crucial support and information to those in need and access to those should be easy for all.

A person holding a Post-It note labelled "usability" on a desk covered with UX designs. Many more yellow and green notes are stuck to a tablet and computer monitors

How do we measure accessibility? 

Measuring the accessibility of a website is a critical step to ensure it meets the diverse needs of all users. This process often involves following set guidelines and standards, most notably the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG provides a clear, technical standard for web content accessibility, categorising recommendations into three levels of conformance: A (minimum level), AA (mid-range), and AAA (highest level). Tools and software are available to assess a site's adherence to these guidelines, including automated checkers and user testing with individuals who have disabilities. At Element78, across all our web design and build projects, our aim is to achieve AA standard as a minimum and we often work closely with clients to address ongoing accessibility improvements.

Graphic image of computer desktop containing accessibility signs for font, colour, zoom, reader, and captioning.

Compliance with Legal Requirements in the UK (and EU) 

In the UK, as well as in the European Union, legal requirements for web accessibility are clearly defined and enforceable. The Equality Act 2010 in the UK mandates that services provided by websites must not discriminate against disabled users, effectively encompassing web accessibility under the umbrella of legal obligations. Similarly, the EU has adopted the Web Accessibility Directive, which requires that all public sector websites and mobile apps meet certain accessibility standards, aligning closely with the WCAG's AA level of guidelines. These laws are not static but are evolving, reflecting an increasing recognition of the importance of digital accessibility. Compliance with these regulations not only helps in avoiding potential legal repercussions, but also signifies a commitment to inclusion, ensuring that digital spaces are accessible to all, regardless of their abilities.

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The POUR principles 

In today's digital landscape, where the internet has become an integral part of our daily lives, ensuring web accessibility is no longer a nice-to-have; it is a must-have. Accessibility is crucial for developers, content creators, and all those involved in creating and maintaining websites and online platforms.

This is where understanding the four key principles of web accessibility - Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR) - becomes essential because they become the foundational principles for creating online content that everyone, including people with disabilities, can access and use.

Perceivable

The first principle, Perceivable, underlines the importance of making content available to as many senses as possible. This ensures that no matter a user's ability to see, hear, or touch, they can still perceive the information presented on a website.

Operable

Operability ensures that all users can interact with and navigate through a website effectively. This includes considerations for users who rely on keyboard navigation or voice commands due to motor disabilities.

Understandable

A website must be understandable to be accessible. This principle focuses on making information and website operation clear to all users. Text should be readable and understandable, and web pages should appear and operate in predictable ways.

Robust

Lastly, the Robust principle ensures that a website's content remains accessible as technology advances. This means creating websites that can be interpreted reliably by a wide range of user agents, including various assistive technologies.

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Strong Foundations 

By prioritising key aspects of web accessibility, your website becomes more navigable, comprehensible, and user-friendly for all individuals, inclusive of those with disabilities.

Here at Element78, we believe there are four critical areas of web accessibility that can significantly elevate the quality and inclusivity of your digital endeavors:

1. Semantic HTML

Semantic HTML involves using HTML tags that your web browser uses to convey the meaning and structure of your web content. This practice is crucial for assistive technologies, like screen readers, enabling them to accurately interpret and present content to users.

2. Colour Contrast

The colour contrast between text and its background can greatly affect the readability of your content, especially for users with visual impairments such as colour blindness or low vision.

3. Keyboard Navigation

Many users rely on keyboards to navigate websites due to physical disabilities or personal preference. Ensuring your site is fully navigable via keyboard is essential for accessibility.

4. Alt Text for Images

Alt text (alternative text) provides a textual alternative for images. This description helps screen reader users understand images' content and context, enhancing the accessibility of visual content.

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Conclusion 

Following the WCAG guidelines can improve your site's SEO, reach a wider audience, and demonstrate your commitment to corporate social responsibility. Accessibility and the four areas highlighted above are the foundation of our design and build process.  In prioritising these areas, we can create more accessible, efficient, and engaging online experiences for all users. Making your website accessible is an ongoing process, but the benefits are not just for users with disabilities but all your site visitors. At Element78 a key objective is to build a web that is open and accessible to everyone, reflecting the true spirit of the digital age.

Curious how we can help boost your digital growth to the next level? 

Tell us your business goals and we'll see how we can create something amazing together.

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