This simple checklist will help ensure everyone who needs to access your site will be able to do so
There are over 13 million people in the UK with some form of disability, who may have difficulty in accessing digital charity services. Performing a website accessibility evaluation can help charity digital leaders understand where the gaps are in website accessibility.
“Web accessibility is about universality and making something that can be used by as many people as possible. It’s also a legal requirement and is everyone’s responsibility,” says AbilityNet, the charity supporting less able people to use technology.
Charities have a special role to play in helping disabled people access technology. As public facing organisations, charity digital leaders have a duty to make sure that everyone can access website information.
Performing an accessibility audit on your website starts with thinking about how people with disabilities might see or access the website. Our essential check-list starts with:
1. Checking photos and adding descriptors
Does your website include photos? Visually challenged people might struggle to understand your message without alternative text. Alternative text, or ‘alt text’, is an insertion into the web HTML language which is displayed if an image isn’t loaded. For those who are visually impaired, the alt text boxes can be read out loud by screen readers and other assistive technology.
The more descriptive the alt text, the better. When auditing websites, charity digital leaders should check the HTML coding to make sure that the right descriptors are added to images and non-text media.
2. Ensure that videos include closed captions or transcripts
For videos, charity digital leaders should make sure that closed captions or transcripts are included. YouTube offers a free closed-captioning service for its video formats. Charity digital leaders can upload their own transcripts and adjust the added component to the timing of the video. More conveniently, YouTube can use its speech-recognition technology to automatically add captioning.
In terms of more practical advice, the Bureau of Internet Accessibility also advises auditing videos for flashing content, colour and contrast. The Bureau also says to make sure that videos don’t play automatically when a webpage loads, as this can interfere with screen readers.
3. Accommodating screen size
Screen size is important to improving accessibility. The RNIB says that low-sighted users might use simple adaptations to read websites. Increasing font size, enlarging graphics / icons, and use of magnification software help users see more clearly. For charities, making sure that content is the same whether screens are small or large can increase audience reach.
4. Structure and content of the website should focus on accessibility
The logic and flow of charity websites can be essential to how messages and content are received. The NCVO offers pragmatic tips on how to makes sure headings, content text, and links are in the right order and place. The NCVO recommends:
5. External resources can add value to accessibility audits
For charity digital leaders who want detailed results from their accessibility audits, online resources are valuable. The most comprehensive online guides include: