What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility is an inclusive practice which ensures a barrier free user experience, for every person navigating the world wide web.

It’s a way of thinking that makes us stop and question whether our digital content is accessible to everyone. That means making sure that online content can be accessed, regardless of digital skills, physical abilities, literacy, language or cognitive challenges.

Why is web accessibility important?

Imagine a world where everything is within grasp, but just out of your reach. You struggle to access any piece of information, and every service you need is closed, every single day. 

For some people, that’s their experience of the digital world - because barriers to digital access still exist.

As more services move online, access to information for people with disabilities becomes an increasing problem. We’re expected to do more digitally now than ever before. With that, there’s a risk of leaving some of the population behind. It’s with inclusive thinking that we can begin to break down barriers. That’s where web accessibility is key. 

Web accessibility matters for your business, your customers and your obligations, and here’s why...

  • Your business
  • Your customers
  • Your obligations

First impressions count. Your website is your digital presence. Every visitor should have a welcoming experience that leaves them feeling valued. An accessible website allows visitors to navigate successfully. And access and digest your content. It’s good for business.

Increases your audience reach and market share

Over 7 million people in the UK have digital access needs. These are needs which arise because of the effects of their disability when interacting online. Their combined spending power is around £24.8 billion. A recent survey found that 70% of this audience will leave a website if they experience barriers. Meaning they take their business elsewhere. The cost of this equates to an estimated £17.1 billion.

Enhances brand loyalty - inclusivity is appreciated!

For people with digital access needs, an inclusive brand is incredibly valued. In fact, 75% of this market would rather pay more for a product from an accessible website, than buy the same product again from one that was less accessible.

Promotes a positive brand image

Sharing in the beliefs, ideals and values of consumers is powerful in building a positive brand image. Taking measures to increase your website’s usability for people with disabilities, means showing your consideration for digital inclusion. And that speaks volumes. In fact, 62% of consumers prefer to purchase from brands that stand up for issues that matter.

Optimizes your searchability

Web accessibility and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are aligned. Websites with easier navigation help people with disabilities to access information, but it also improves bounce rate. That means people stay on your website for more than one page visit. And this improves your site’s authority with search engines. What’s more, providing closed captions on videos, and alt tags on images helps people with access needs. But it also allows search engines to discover and index the content too.  

Webinar: The proven impact of digital inclusion

Having an accessible website boosts your brand's reputation, increases your market share and customer loyalty. But above all, it's another step towards creating a barrier-free digital world.

In this recorded webinar, hear real life results from inclusive brands. Gain insight into the impact of digital inclusion to both brand and consumer. Explore recent case studies, and discover what brands are doing to achieve accessibility.

What does an accessible website look like?

An accessible website is one which considers inclusive design. That means it’s designed and maintained in a way that's inclusive of everyone. So that every person can discover, access and digest content, including those using special devices and screen readers. 

To help businesses become more inclusive guidelines, such as WCAG 2.1 exist.

Understanding the web content accessibility guidelines 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). They were created to help organizations make their websites and applications more inclusive.

WCAG is considered the international standards for web accessibility. Within them there are different levels of conformance - Level A, Level AA and Level AAA. Businesses should aim to comply with the standards at a Level AA at minimum. So as to achieve accessibility for a wide audience. For a website to be truly accessible, it must be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. The WCAG guidelines are based on these four principles - otherwise known as the POUR principles.

What are the POUR principles?

The POUR principles are used to guide businesses on how to meet the WCAG standards. They provide guidance on the functional elements of a website.

Perceivable

Every part of a website should be able to be perceived by every visitor. This means that content should be available in multiple formats. It also considers accessible design choices. For example, good colour contrast and typography. This makes it easier for users to see and hear content.

Operable

Web content must be able to be accessed by every visitor. This includes people who use adaptive devices, and those who may suffer seizures or physical reactions. It must also be easy to navigate, helping users find content, and decide where they are.

Understandable

Content that someone can access is not necessarily accessible. It must be readable and understandable. Factors to consider are the use of language, abbreviations and pronunciations. This principle also considers how intuitive the website is. Meaning whether it acts in a way which users would expect. Additionally, where visitors are asked to input information, support should be in place. So that users can avoid and correct mistakes.

Robust

Each individual accesses the web using technology which suits their needs and preferences. That means your website should be compatible for use across different devices and browsers, including assistive technologies.

Your free guides to creating an accessible website

To help you become more digitally inclusive, we have created two handy guides.

The first guide explores the POUR principles. It outlines some actions you could take to become more compliant with accessibility standards. The second guide identifies best practice to writing accessible web content, and maintaining accessibility across your teams.

Guide to web accessibility for beginners: understanding the POUR principles

To help you to kick start your efforts, we've created a handy guide focused around the POUR principles. In the guide, you'll explore more about what the POUR principles mean. You'll also discover some identifiable actions you could take to increase your website compliance.

Guide for maintaining web accessibility best practice: making content accessible

If you’ve made a start on making your website more accessible, that’s great! To help you keep up your good work, we’ve put together this practical guide. It'll help you and your teams to create and add online content with digital inclusion in mind. And help you to outline best practice to the website owners in your business.

Making content accessible & inclusive

It's important to open up every piece of digital content. From pdfs & graphics, to videos & social media. That way, it's available & accessible to everyone.

To help you increase your knowledge, we've created free resources created with WCAG in mind. Gain a recorded webinar and WCAG checklists for your teams. You'll hear from communication and accessibility experts from Content Design London and AbilityNet. And gain advice to creating accessible content in line with best practice.

You'll receive:

  • A recorded webinar with the experts
  • A WCAG checklist for marketers
  • A WCAG checklist for designers

Test your knowledge

As you're increasing your knowledge around web accessibility, why not test the knowledge you've gained so far?

Take our free quiz to see how much you know about web accessibility. You'll also have the opportunity to access free resources, to take your expertise to the next level!

Let's talk about inclusive marketing

Diversity, equality, and inclusion is something that should be on every organizations mind. Important elements include: creating accessible content and designing inclusively across all your digital campaigns.

Gain advice to help you at every step with this recorded webinar. You'll hear from Robin, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet. He identifies simple steps you could take to make your website more accessible. You'll also hear from Jennifer, Brand Director at Radley Yeldar. She shares advice on creating more inclusive marketing campaigns.

Did you know?

7 million internet users in the UK have digital access needs. These are needs which arise as a result of an individual’s disability when interacting online.

Of this audience, 70% will leave a website if they experience barriers. Meaning they take their spending power to an accessible alternative. The cost of this equates to an estimated £17.1 billion. Web accessibility software can help by providing additional support.

Take action with ReachDeck

ReachDeck is our accessibility and inclusion software. It helps you to make your digital content inclusive for everyone.

Breaks down communication barriers. Improve the accessibility, readability and reach of your online content.