Websites are useful points and contain a wealth of information but very often they are not accessible, or the information is not useful. If the visitor cannot access the right information they won’t visit. The design and production of electronic text, web pages must be appropriately designed to allow blind and partially sighted people access. With a clearer understanding of these issues, implementing accessibility will become second nature. An accessible information policy should be built into your planning and delivery schedules early on. This will reduce costs and ensure a valuable and inclusive experience from the outset. All venues should aim to:

  • adopt an accessible information policy
  • produce information in a range of accessible formats
  • ensure web pages are accessible

 

Top Tips

  • Websites should follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which can be accessed here: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/
  • In HTML structure elements exist for paragraphs (p), headings and subtitles (h1, h2, … h6), lists (ul, ol and li). In a table one should identify the table headers by using the elements. The caption element does what its name suggests.
  • Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language
  • Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure
  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background
  • All functionality must be operable from the keyboard.
  • Ensure link texts are meaningful: avoid “click here”.
  • Ensure text with a Hyperlink can be visually distinguished from text that is not a link.
  • It is recommended to underline all links inside a text block.
  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard
  • Provide users enough time to read and use content
  • Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures
  • Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are
  • Make text content readable and understandable
  • Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways
  • Help users avoid and correct mistakes
  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies
  • If a website contains audio or video material, bear in mind that many people do not hear or see it.

 

Forms

  • In a form it is essential to mark up all instructions (e.g. first name, street, country) with a label element. Then link each label with the corresponding form field. Therefore, the value of the for attribute in the label element must be equal to the value of the ID attribute in the input, select or text area element.
  • When a form contains related fields, group them in a field set element.
  • Make sure the mandatory fields are identified in way that isn’t purely visual.
  • Avoid the Captcha technique that requires the user to type a code that is depicted in an image. This code cannot be read by a screen reader and many partially sighted people will have trouble to decipher the code as well.
  • Clearly state that a form has been submitted correctly or that errors were detected. In the latter case the user should be informed what the error is, where it occurs and how to fix it.

 

Your Turn

With your venue in mind, answer the following:

  1. What process would you need to follow to adopt an accessible information policy? List this in a step by step format.
  2. What web pages do you have that can be reviewed for accessibility?
  3. What points would you include in an accessible information policy?

 

Credit: Zoe Partington and RNIB

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