What accessibility means
Web accessibility is ultimately about people. Technically, it’s designing and building websites so people with disabilities can use them. What we’re really talking about is removing barriers that might stop any person from using your website.
Why accessibility matters
Making your website accessible is morally and ethically the right thing to do. If your company values talk about things like “fairness”, “inclusivity” and “respect” then your website should be actively supporting those values.
Accessible websites typically load and display faster. This is important for people on older devices, slow network connections, or limited or expensive bandwidth. Besides, everyone hates slow websites.
Accessibility is a legal requirement for most public sector websites, due to regulations enacted in 2018.
Reach all your audience
It also makes good sense. We wouldn’t build a museum that didn’t allow people to look at what’s inside? Why have a website that isn’t accessible for a large part of your audience? It just doesn’t make good business sense – or good customer service.
An estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability. This represents 16% of the world’s population, or 1 in 6 of us.” (The World Health Organisation, 7 March 2023)
Here in the UK, 11% of children, 23% of all working-age adults are disabled and 45% of pension-age adults. (House of Commons Library, 23 August 2023)
That’s a lot of people.
We asked our accessibility advocate and Front-End Lead, Nicola Saunders, why accessibility is so important
Web accessibility is all about making sure as many people as possible can use your website.
When talking about accessibility, it’s clear to me that people tend to think about screen readers and people with no or low vision. In fact, there are more people with mobility, audio and cognitive challenges than with vision impairments.
Ultimately, it’s barriers within society that are the source of disability for people. And an inaccessible website is a barrier to a whole host of people:
- Good colour contrast makes it easier to see what’s on your screen in strong sunshine – and helps people with low vision.
- Larger buttons and inputs make it easier to place that order while on a bumpy train or trying to feed the kids – and for somebody with arthritis or Parkinson’s Disease.
- Video captions are really helpful if you’re trying to watch a video in a quiet library or a bustling airport – and for those who are hard of hearing.
It’s highly likely that we will all, sooner or later, experience situations like these when using the web, so let’s do better for others and ourselves.
Our approach to accessibility at Studio 24
Accessibility is at the heart of what we do. By championing an accessible web, we help make sure that nobody is left behind.
Maintaining an accessible website is an ongoing and collaborative process. It is easiest and most cost-effective when considered at the very start of a project – from research and planning, through to design and development. And it continues long after your website first “goes live” – with edits and additions to your content.
We like finding simple, elegant solutions to complicated problems. We always explain our advice and approach. We never take these decisions lightly, and always have the best interests of you and your audience in mind.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are internationally recognised recommendations on how to make digital services and content accessible for everyone. WCAG contains three conformance levels: A, AA and AAA. Level A is the minimum conformance level, addressing the most fundamental accessibility considerations for the broadest group of people, while level AAA is the highest possible conformance level in WCAG.
For all projects we aim to meet level AA for the latest version of WCAG which has been published for at least a year – currently version 2.1. But, we like to go above and beyond where it makes good sense to do so.
The gap between the release of a new version of WCAG and when we support it allows our team time to update our approaches. If regulations require updates to occur sooner or to meet a newer version of WCAG, the regulatory requirement will take precedence.
We have extensive experience designing human-centred, data-driven websites and applications. We have a reputation as a ‘thinking agency’ with a strong focus on accessibility. We work with a range of organisations both large and small (e.g. W3C, UK Parliament, CBM Global Disability Inclusion) and build long-term relationships based on transparency, openness, and trust.
At the heart of our design decisions is the desire to create positive and inclusive user experiences, which ensure audiences aren’t marginalised or ignored. We’ll consider your users’ motivations, the barriers they may face and the ways in which they interact with and consume your content.
Our design approach is always evolving and considers many things. For example:
- Clear and consistent navigation options
- Use of typography and spacing to aid comprehension
- Providing enough colour contrast
- Not using colour alone to convey information
- Ensuring that interactive elements are easy to identify
- Designing for different viewport sizes
- Usability of forms and transactions
- Controls for moving content – video and animation
- Alternative options for visual information
We’ve developed our own, open source, accessible front-end starter kit – Amplify. This is our preferred starting point for websites and web apps.
Using Amplify we can build our projects on a strong foundation of tested, accessible code and principles. It means much of our front-end code already has accessibility baked in.
Amplify was tested for accessibility during the W3C redesign project.
Start your accessibility journey with us. We offer a single page accessibility review to identify where you have high-impact issues. We’ll explain the problems these cause for your visitors and offer recommendations on how to fix them.
Part of our process is to provide you with guidance and advice on how to create accessible content, such as writing text alternatives for images and meaningful link text. This is vital to your website’s success as accessibility is a shared responsibility between us and you.