Charity Digital – Topics – An Overview of W3C Accessibility Standards

With one in five in the UK living with a disability, disability or long-term illness, it is so important that your website is accessible.

If your website doesn’t meet accessibility standards, you’re preventing a lot of people from accessing your services or supporting you with donations or fundraising.

Accessibility, however, is not just about ensuring that people with disabilities can access your content and services. Accessibility is about making sure that as many people as possible can do it.

What is the W3C?

W3C is the World Wide Web Consortium that develops international web standards, such as HTML and CSS. All of their standards are reviewed for accessibility by the Accessibility Platform Architecture (APA) working group.

Is accessibility a legal obligation?

All public sector bodies must comply with the Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Regulations (No. 2) 2018. Public sector bodies include central and local government organizations and certain charities and non-governmental.

The regulations state that you must make your website or mobile application accessible by making it “perceivable, usable, understandable and robust”. Additionally, you must include and update a accessibility statement on your website.

Although all UK service providers have a legal duty to make reasonable accommodations, under the Equality Act 2010 not all charities are required to comply with accessibility regulations . Charities are exempt unless they are primarily publicly funded, provide essential services to the public, or serve people with disabilities.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

WCAG is based on four design principles, which are:

  • Perceptible
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

It is important to note that these principles are not about technology per se, but rather about how people interact with content. For example, if they use a keyboard to navigate instead of a mouse or if they use a screen reader to read content.

Let’s look at the principles in more detail.

Principle 1: Noticeable

This principle concerns the perceptible information and the user interface. This basically means that users should be able to use your service and perceive information using their senses. Here are some examples :

  • Provide alt text on images
  • Captioning video content and providing transcripts for audio and video
  • Content should be logically formatted and structured, using headings and subheadings. Content should be browsed and read by screen readers
  • Use colors for text that show easily against the background so they can be read clearly. here is a free contrast checker check accessibility

Principle 2: Operational

This principle is about making sure people can find and use your content no matter how they access it. For example, if they use voice assist technology.

To respect this principle, here are some examples of what you should do:

  • Use descriptive links so users know where the link will take them. For example, instead of creating a “download” hyperlink, you would hyperlink “download our guide to understand your eligible benefits”.
  • Allow users to play, pause or stop any moving content
  • Make sure your website works for users who only use a keyboard
  • Use descriptive titles for pages

Principle 3: Understandable

This principle emphasizes the ability of users to read the content and that the content can be understood by the widest possible audience. To respect this principle:

  • It should be clear to the user which language the content is written in and tell them if the language changes
  • All UI components that are repeated on web pages must have the same labels
  • Features should be consistent
  • Form fields should have visible and meaningful labels and any errors in forms should be easy to identify and correct.

Principle 4: Robust

This principle is to ensure that the content is robust and compatible with different browsers and assistive technologies, for example. Here is how this principle can be respected:

  • Make sure your website code lets assistive technologies know what each interface component is for
  • Use HTML so that user agents (such as assistive technology) can interpret the content

Is your website WCAG compliant?

Although WCAG compliance for your website is not a legal requirement, it is important that your website is accessible to as many people as possible. Siteimprove provides a WCAG Compliance Checkerwhich will give your website a compliance score out of 100. You will also receive an overview of your website’s accessibility, with 15 common accessibility issues checked, along with recommendations on how to improve.

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