The Internet can be a great tool for disabled people, as it allows for access to information and can lead to the creation of disabled communities. However, this information can only be communicated effectively if it can be reached and understood by those with disabilities. There are lots of international organisations dedicated to making the whole web accessible; here is a brief overview of what is out there.
As is widely known, there are four main types of disability or impairment, all of which require different adaptations:
Vision– including colour blindness, and partial and full sight loss
Major adaptations: colour contrast and screen reader compatibility
Auditory– including deafness and hearing loss
Major adaptations: Captioning and subtitles
Motor-includes any condition which would impede effective movement
Major adaptations: Making all websites entirely navigable via keyboard
Cognition– includes any condition which could inhibit understanding or cognitive processing.
Major adaptations: clear navigation and link labels, ordered and hierarchical text.
The best thing about this is that they are usually quite straightforward to implement even with limited knowledge of web-design, and benefit everyone, as clearly communicated information is more easily understood by all.
The most comprehensive web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) are published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), now in their second iteration. W3G are a community made up of full time staff, member organisation and interested members of the public.
5 key principles guiding an accessible web:
- Provide alternative text for all images, which could mean writing a caption underneath or ensuring that not being able to view images will not impact understanding of the page.
- Make sure content is easy to read and clearly formatted,- keep to standard fonts, medium size (between 14-18ppt) and introduce a hierarchical and consistent structure.
- Do not rely on colour to convey meaning, and ensure that colour contrast is high on all pages. This normally involves using black on white, or any other complementary colour combination (colour wheel opposites). With meaning, make sure that everything can be understood reading the text alone- do not draw attention to something important iuusing red, for example.
- Use quick links to content, so that everything can ideally be accessed from one page, and content is immediately available to view. Clicking through a lot of links will confuse and disorient people.
- Avoid vague hyperlinks. Always use content based links, and avoid ‘click here’ or ‘read more’, so the user knows where the link will lead to.
Our Petition- get involved!
You may have noticed that I have broken a few of the rules set out above. This is because the WordPress.com platform is very limited from an accessibility point of view. As part of this inquiry the Halve the Gap Team is pleased to announce our petition calling on WordPress to implement accessibility features available for paid subscribers via WordPress.org Please help us make the web more accessible, one step at a time. You can sign our petition here.
Hope you enjoyed the post, please like, share, comment and spread the word! There is still time to make a submission- keep them coming. Please note that this post does not represent the views of Disability Rights UK or the APPG for Disability.