Web Accessibility Beyond the Check List

In these lean times there is often a temptation to ignore issues such as web accessibility, especially when the budget is tight.  Let’s be honest here even with a holistic approach making a web site fully accessible can be a costly exercise, often way outside the budget of medium to small business.   This is particularly true if you are considering a few rounds of accessibility testing as well.

So what can you do.  As you know it is a legislative requirement all over the western world 1 to adhere to a degree of accessibility for a web site.  Sure you can go through the usual checklist of accessibility issues, work out the ones that are within your budget and leave it at that.  Yes you will have ticked that box off.  However in some cases your web site may still not be accessible despite your limited, but best intentions.

Accessibility is not Checklists

The issue with going down this route is that accessibility is not about checklists – it is about people.

People  like you and me. People with families and friends, with an sphere of marketing influence.  They have wants and needs, and money to spend.  It is sad that this to often the forgotten segment of any market.   Maybe in these lean times that’s a market that you should be focusing on.

One thing is certain you should not be ignoring any accessibility issues when you are planning for your web site to be redesigned.

Over the years I have often heard people say  – “Oh we  don’t have any disabled customers, so accessibility is not an issue for us.”  Well the thing is accessibility is more than  just getting web sites to work for people that have been registered with a disability.  The reality here is that all of a site’s audience will at one time or another  encounter some form of an accessibility issue.

Remember that could be the 65 year old retiree with eyesight issues, or the twenty-something recovering from sports injury to their hand.   Both these people could be potential customers.   And if they have a bad experience trying to access your web site then they are likely to remember that and prefer not to use your site over your competitor, be that in the next suburb or overseas.

What can you do

So what can you do about all the web accessibility issues if you have a limited budget.  First off you need to talk with an experienced web professional  to ensure that the information and functionality of your web site is accessible by anyone within your budget.

To often with a web site redesign in order to win a project the aspect of the site’s accessibility is swept under the carpet and not mentioned.  This isn’t the best outcome for the client (you),  that will assume that all these professional aspects are being taken care of.  The way around this is to just ask about the accessibility aspects of the web re-design process.

In times when every customer is never more important, this could have the potential to render your web site not as effective as it could be.   Something to think about.

Examples of Accessibility Legislation

Untied States

  • Section 255 of Telecommunications Act of 1996
  • Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act 1973
  • Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act 1986 (amended)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act 1990.

Untied Kingdom