What is accessibility?

"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."

Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web. Source: World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

Accessibility is not just about disability, it is about universality!

  • It means making your website accessible to all internet users.
  • It is about the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities using the web.
  • There are lots of different factors that affect the way in which people navigate websites.
  • Browser technology is also an important consideration  - each browser displays information differently.

At Imperial our main website has been designed and built with accessibility as a consideration from the start. For example, the website works with different devices and screen sizes.

How you can make your content more accessible

Some of the most important aspects of accessibility are to do with the way people create and edit content. We have put together some guidance about how you can use these elements in an effective and accessible way:

Further information about accessibility

Facts

  • There are over 11 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability in Great Britain.
  • ‘Over two million people in the UK live with sight loss, that’s around one person in 30’. (RNIB)
  • One in 12 men and one in 200 women have some form of colour blindness.
  • About 2% of the population in the UK have learning disabilities.
  • 10% of the UK population is thought to have dyslexia to some degree.
  • 13% of the population have literacy problems.
  • 21% of the UK population is aged 60 or over.

Legal standards

Worldwide standards

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Legally required in the UK

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities this applies to anyone providing a service; public, private and voluntary sectors. (Websites are considered to be one of the ‘services to the public’.)

What happens if you ignore accessibility?

“A disabled person can make a claim against you if your website makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult to access information and services."

"If you have not made ‘reasonable adjustments’ and cannot show that this failure is justified, then you may be liable under the Act, and may have to pay compensation and be ordered by a court to change your site.”

RNIB 2005

Factors that affect web use

  • Visual impairment: poor eyesight, colour blindness.
  • Motor/Mobility: Difficulty using hands, Parkinson's Disease.
  • Auditory: Deafness or hard of hearing.
  • Seizures: Caused by visual strobe or flashing effects.
  • Cognitive: Developmental/learning problems.

How different the world appears

Visual impairment

Below you can see how the world looks to someone with a visual impairment. You can see more examples at Colour Vision Simulator Examples

Colour Vision Simulator Examples

Imperial's website looks different through the eyes of someone with colour blindness, the colours appear greyed out:

Imperial's study page - with colour blind ilter on. Normal Imperial Study page

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

All pictures, text and icons displayed by most computers are made up from pixels. Most people never notice the pixels as their brains attempt to make sense of whatever is on screen. People with autism may be observing a display of pixels that make very little sense to them. This will be much more pronounced in pictures rather than with text.

Simulations can be used to see how the world appears to people with different types of disability.

Man on bike - as viewed by someone with Autism
Man on bike - as viewed by someone with Autism
Man on a bike seen through 20/20 vision
Man on a bike - picture viewed with 20/20 vision

Accessibility tools

Visually impaired users

Screen readers
  • software which can read out either selected elements of what is being displayed on the monitor (helpful for users with reading or learning difficulties).
  • read out everything that is happening on the computer (used by blind and vision impaired users).
Braille terminals
  • These have a refreshable Braille display which renders text as Braille characters (usually raising pegs through holes in a flat surface) and either a QWERTY or Braille keyboard.

Screen magnification software enlarges what is displayed on the computer monitor, making it easier to read for vision impaired users.

Keyboard users

Some people use their keyboard, rather than a mouse, to navigate the web.

Non-keyboard users

Speech recognition software
  • can accept spoken commands to the computer, or turn dictation into grammatically correct text.
  • useful for those who have difficulty using a mouse or a keyboard.

Keyboard overlays can make typing easier and more accurate for those who have motor control difficulties. oard, rather than a mouse, to navigate the web.

Non-keyboard users

Speech recognition software
  • can accept spoken commands to the computer, or turn dictation into grammatically correct text.
  • useful for those who have difficulty using a mouse or a keyboard.
Keyboard overlays

can make typing easier and more accurate for those who have motor control difficulties.

How long are the URLs on your page?

  • Try not to use really long URLs as some speech synthesised software will read the URL aloud
  • Ensure your URLs relate closely to heading content users will find there
  • You can use the Output URI box in the CMS T4 Site Manager to reduce the size of your URL. (In Modify section).

Accessibility top tips

  1. Use headings correctly: logical and sequential (mostly done for you in T4 CMS).
  2. Plan clear and simple structure and content.
  3. Images: add  alt-text to include a meaningful text alternative.
  4. Multimedia: Be aware you may need to provide transcripts of audio and video.
  5. Links: Use unique descriptive link text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid click here.
  6. Have a consistent page organisation.
  7. Check your work: Use different browsers, screen resolutions, and operating systems. Check as many alternatives as possible, and ask others to do the same for you.
  8. Accessibility covers a lot of ground beyond just disabilities. By structuring your web pages with thought (images and text, meaningful alt tags) the experience will be better for all visitors:
    • Remember clean, concise site navigation with descriptive links that identify where they are taking you.
    • There are those who just prefer browsers other than just Internet Explorer or Firefox.
    • SEO – search engines like semantic, clean text. Poor or non-existent titles or header tags will be detrimental to your pages being found.

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