‘Developing Accessible Websites’ Sampler

Short Guide cover: 'Developing Accessible Websites' SamplerFrom the recent Essential Short Guide, this is a ‘Developing Accessible Websites’ sampler.

The Internet has become a fundamental way to access and provide information and services. Web accessibility allows everyone, including people with disabilities, to perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the Internet, increasingly on small devices with touch screens.

Digital accessibility has become even more important due to the rapid growth of information and interactive services provided on the web and through mobile devices. Online banking, shopping, recruitment, customer healthcare, using public services online: the lack of accessibility contributes to the exclusion or partial exclusion of many people from large parts of society.

Our society is becoming increasingly reliant on digital platforms. When checking in at the doctor’s surgery, applying for a school place or submitting a tax return, we are expected to interact with digital platforms every day as governments and public services embrace ‘digital-first’.

Early in the history of the World-Wide Web, inventor Tim Berners-Lee stated:

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone, regardless of disability is an essential aspect”
(Source: W3C, 1997).

However, for disabled people who use assistive technology or need adaptations (such as increased text-size or contrast), there has been no guarantee that digital services will work as digital tools proliferated.

Making websites and apps more accessible results in an overall better user experience for everyone, not only for users with disabilities. Simple changes that make websites and apps more usable can bring huge improvements for everyone. Text-to-speech and closed-captioning are two obvious examples, but accessibility goes much deeper than that.

Web accessibility is not only about technical standards, web architecture and design. It has become a moral imperative important enough to be enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCROWN). Article 9 of the Convention, to which the EU and its Member States are party, requires that appropriate measures are taken to ensure access for persons with disabilities, on equal basis with others, to information and communication technologies, including the Internet.