Have you POURed enough into website compliance?


Every organization strives to provide excellence in customer service and we know that your customers and service users are at the heart of everything you do, but does your website live up to your standards?

In this blog, we identify what it means to make sure your website is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. In other words, truly accessible.

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Creating a true first impression

First impressions count, and your website gives prospective clients all the information they need to know before deciding if they would like to work with you. It’s important that your content is accessible, so that your welcoming messages are delivered to every single one of your online visitors. Just as you would make adjustments to physical accessibility, the same should be done within your digital presence, to ensure that your content is equally accessible to everyone.

Removing barriers and creating inclusive experiences 

1 in 7 people are disabled and this number is expected to double by 2050. With a growing population of individuals with physical, learning, and cognitive difficulties, it's never been more important to adopt an inclusive mindset. That means making sure your digital content can be accessed and understood by all.

As you map out your online customer journeys, create your content, and design your digital assets, it's important to think about the diverse visitors engaging with your website. Some people may use assistive technologies, such as computer readers and screen magnifiers, and they should be able to freely navigate your digital content, without barriers. Similarly those with color sensitivities, low vision, and reading or processing difficulties should be able to access and understand your online messages.

Complying to legislation and international standards

As governments worldwide strive towards a more inclusive world, more and more countries are putting web accessibility into legislation.

Equality initiative's protect individuals from barriers they would otherwise face in everyday life, whilst legal regulations for web content accessibility ensures that inclusion within the digital world is not forgotten. It's something that should be on everybody's mind.

So what can you do to become more accessible?

Web accessibility standards exist to help organizations become more inclusive. Existing guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) set the international standard for web accessibility. They use the POUR principles, which outline what it means for a website to be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. For a website to be truly accessible it must follow these four principles.

But, what do they mean?


Perceivable

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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 color contrast and typography. This makes it easier for users to see and hear content.

Some actions you could take include;

  • Provide content in multiple formats
  • Use metadata to provide text alternatives to images
  • Minimize visual overload with inclusive design
  • Use good color contrast between text and background elements
  • Use a font size that’s easy to read (for example a font size of 12pt/16px)


Operable

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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.

Some actions you could take include:

  • Optimize web code to ensure that all functionality is available from a keyboard
  • Ensure users can easily navigate and find content, including visitors using screen readers
  • Do not use content that could cause seizures, for example don't enable moving imagery to automatically play


Understandable

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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.

Some actions you could take include:

  • Use language that can be understood by all site visitors
  • Give users enough time to read and use content. For example, allow uses to stop and start video content
  • Be transparent, so visitors understand what actions to take on the site. For example, use link text that tells a user where they will end up
  • Help users to avoid and correct mistakes. For example, include field labels on forms. And highlight errors with a combination of both text and color


Robust

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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.

Some actions you could take include:

  • Optimize your website for use with assistive technologies
  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools

To help, we've created a guide which outlines some tools to support you as you take action. Get the guide, it's free.