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Web accessibility and why it's important for your business website

19 May 2022

Web accessibility symbol

Thursday 19 May 2022 celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a chance to raise awareness around access and inclusion in the digital world.

Now, more than ever, people rely on the internet for everything - from remote working to shopping, digital banking and social engagement - meaning that web accessibility has never been more critical. Yet, with over one billion people with disabilities and impairments, it is estimated that 1 in 5 people do not have access to the assistive technology they need.

What is web accessibility?

Put simply, web accessibility is about making it easier for people with particular disabilities to use websites and interact with them. Whether that's browsing through a shopping site, making a purchase or reading a blog - whatever those individuals have visited a website to do, they should be able to do it successfully without encountering any accessibility issues.

Just like wheel chair ramps and Braille signage help physically and visually impaired people move and navigate around physical spaces, web accessibility best practice helps disabled users to navigate around websites and complete tasks they have visited the website to do.

Web accessibility and the law

In September 2020, it was made law that all public sector websites must comply with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA and publish an accessibility statement listing any areas of their site that do not meet WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards.

Private sector businesses fall under the remit of the Equality Act 2010 which states that UK goods and service providers cannot discriminate against disabled people. Beyond complying with the law, web accessibility should be a key consideration for all websites to help make the internet more inclusive and equal for everyone.

Benefits of web accessibility for your business

Aside from the obvious benefit of helping people with disabilities to easily access and navigate around your website's content, product and services, web accessibility can also benefit your business through the following ways:

Reaching to a wider audience

Making your website accessible for everyone means that you're reaching out to potential customer who otherwise wouldn't be able to interact with your site.

Building positive brand image

Factoring web accessibility into your website demonstrates corporate social responsibility and shows you've taken steps to remove barriers and promote inclusion which helps to build positive public relations and showcases your brand in a positive light.

Improves your SEO

SEO favours useful, user friendly and accessible content which is easy for everyone to read and understand. By making your site accessible, you are helping to rank your pages higher on external search engines which means they are more likely to be found by people making related key word searches.

Tips for improving the accessibility of your website

Conduct a full accessibility audit

If you do not have the in-house skills to do this, consider using a professional web accessibility service such as the Digital Accessibility Centre (DAC), who are currently one of the leading providers in the UK to review your website and identify the current issues.

Bring your site up to WCAG 2.1 level standards

Again, you could approach external specialists to help you with this process or, if you have the skills in-house, make the changes yourself. For information on the levels of WCAG conformance and what needs to be done reach each level visit W3C - WCAG 2 overview.

Invest in web quality assurance software

Invest in web quality assurance software that includes accessibility testing (such as Siteimprove, Monsido, Silktide etc) to help you run regular accessibility checks to ensure your site remains accessible as it develops and you add new pages and content.

Educate staff who write web content

To help avoid bad practice which needs addressing after it goes live, take a ground up approach by delivering training on web accessibility content good practice to help promote good practice amongst those involved in the website and information that goes on there.

Wider business support

For wider busines support on topics such as start ups, business development, financial support and recruitment see our business support section.

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