Evisible Integrated Media Ltd

Understanding web accessibility

The advantages of adopting accessibility in web design:

  • Increased functionality and usability for all users
  • An online presence built within legal and ethical frameworks
  • Increased search engine presence and audience reach
  • Protected online investment over the long-term, using future-proof technologies
  • Retain compatibility with old hardware and software technologies

Accessible web sites are search engine friendly web sites

As well as ensuring your company undertakes an ethical and legal approach to delivering services to your customers, undertaking an accessibility audit and implementing change to content and code where necessary can create measurable increase in traffic to your web site, increase usability and functionality and increase your ROI in your online marketing strategy.

Ensuring that your web site content and code is ordered in semantic, logically structured way through an accessibility audit has a further major competitive advantage: search engine optimisation.

Search engine optimisation and web site accessibility are intrinsically linked - search engines 'read' or index web pages and web content in much the same way as adaptive or assistive technologies do for users of such technologies.

Ensuring your web site passes the criteria for accessibility will ensure your site is optimised at a fundamental level for all major search engines, including: Google, MSN and Yahoo.

Accessibility - the flexible approach to web technology

A web site built to accessible standards ensures your site is correctly utilising technologies that degrade gracefully over time, as well as future-proofing your investment over the long-term by ensuring best practice is in place to implement new technologies and standards as they emerge quickly and easily at lower cost.

What is accessibility and how does it work online?

Web accessibility is the measurement of how anyone uses a web site successfully, regardless of the software, browsing and hardware technologies that the person is using, and regardless of disability or ability.

Users of the internet will access web sites through a range of browsers and devices – including assistive technologies such as screen readers and screen magnifiers, as well as other computing devices such as personal computers, mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDA’s).

Accessible web site design and implementation ensures that a web site is available across a number of platforms and methods of delivery.

The misconception of web accessibility

Rather than hinder creative web design, accessiblity standards as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Accessibility Inititiative (WAI) encourage the use of mutlimedia features (ie. Flash, video, images, etc) as long as they are implemented in an accessible way.

The Accessibility Guidelines

The WAI, a partnership organisation of the W3C that works with various organisations around the world, has created a set of guidelines and principles which web sites should implement to achieve accessibility.

The current guidelines are known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 1 (WCAG1). There are 65 checkpoints within the guidelines. The guidelines address the following issues:

  • code structure
  • inclusion of assistive coding methods and technologies
  • content
  • presentation and layout

The guidelines are grouped into three conformance levels, known as: priority 1 (A), priority 2 (AA) and priority 3 (AAA):

  • A - The most basic standard. web sites must comply with all of the priority one checkpoints to achieve this standard.
  • AA - A higher standard than A. web sites must comply with all of the priority one and two checkpoints to achieve this standard. A Web content developer should satisfy this checkpoint.
  • AAA - A high standard of accessibility. web sites must comply with all priority one, two and three checkpoints to achieve this standard. A Web content developer may address this checkpoint.

For a detailed explanation of these checkpoints please see the W3C Accessbility guidelines published on their web site, or download a PDF document format of the guidelines.

As a rule, web sites should conform to the ‘AA’ standard. Evisible strive to ensure that all web sites that undergo an accessibility audit and update from Evisible  meet this standard.

Further resources

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