Accessibility and the Benefits of an Accessible Website
The World Wide Web is the fastest evolving media platform in modern society. The data found on it is updated at a tremendous pace and it takes mere seconds for an internet publisher to document real world affairs as they unravel. The range and diversity of information available on the web is monumental, and practically any topic desired can be researched – whether that is in an online encyclopedia, specialist website, discussion forum, personal website or a blog.
Unfortunately web designers and publishers often neglect the needs of Internet users with disabilities, or those browsing with older or less widely used software. As a result many websites are not accessible to a large percentage of internet users, and hence their experience is hindered. This is discrimination, and even though the “Disability Discrimination Act (1999)” contains several references to accessible websites, the law is nearly impossible to enforce. Only a handful of very large companies have been pursued with legal action over their websites – this is under 0.00001% of the internet – an insignificantly small fraction.
When a designer builds a site to adhere to accessibility guidelines, he or she writes the most basic markup which will achieve the design already devised. The less markup used, the more likely the final website is to function correctly cross platform. The other advantage to using as little markup as possible is that as a result loading times will be decreased. Only essential images are used, and when they are used ‘text replacement’ is utilized so that text is inserted in place of an image if the image cannot be rendered for any reason. This means if a user has images disabled or cannot view an image, they can still read any text which was in the image.
A number of other, highly specialist methods are also employed to ensure that no matter what operating system, browser or disabilities a user may use/have their experience is not compromised and they have access to all of the data available on the website. These methods range from options to enlarge or decrease the pages font size, options for high contrast versions of the page and a version of a page especially designed to be easily interpreted by a screen reader (a screen reader is a piece of software which reads the text on a page and can output that text for a variety of different uses, such as a specialized keyboard which has a series of small holes through which the below surface is raised to form Braille).
Websites should be accessible by all people, regardless of any disabilities they may have or software they may use. This results in a consistent user experience cross platform and the elimination of discrimination. Therefore increasing the quality of your website, improving the experience of the end user, bettering you/your organizations reputation and, in the case of a company, diversifying the percentage of the public which can view your product/service online.
Strawberrysoup recognize the utmost importance of accessible web design and takes pride in building all of their client’s websites to only the strictest accessibility guidelines, as set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C are the definitive body in web standards and their guidelines are those which a website is compared to if a publisher is ever taken to court over website accessibility (www.w3c.org).
Strawberrysoup also acknowledge that accessible design needn’t mean boring design. Their expert designers can create a bespoke solution tailored to your individual needs that is exciting, eye catching, bold and accessible.