Accessibility: what is it and why is it important for your business?

Steve

It’s the policy of key2design that we do what we can to ensure that the websites we design and develop are accessible to people with disabilities.

What do we mean by ‘people with disability’?

When we talk about people with disability we usually mean anyone who requires a screen reader and other specialised software and hardware to be able use a computer. This includes people who are blind or partially sighted, and people with neurological and physical disabilities who have special tools to use their computer.

Why is this important?

For one thing, of course, it is good business practice to avoid discrimination wherever you can. There is also the possibility that you could be prosecuted. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) makes it unlawful for web pages to fail to be accessible to the disabled. The most famous case was in 2000 when the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games was found to have acted in a discriminatory and unlawful manner by not taking measures to help make its website accessible to people with disabilities.

What about other resources available on your website?

In general we recommend that information on your website should be placed on web pages, rather than forcing the website user to download documents such as Microsoft Word files or PDF files. Linking to such files will inconvenience any user of your website, and, depending on how the documents are produced, can be difficult for people with disabilities to use.

Steps can be taken when producing Word and PDF files to make them more accessible. For example, when creating a Word document you should avoid using graphical images and tables. There are many articles available on the Web discussing how to make your Word and PDF files more accessible – a good place to start would be the Microsoft and the Adobe websites.

The key2design website accessibility policy

When we hand over a new website to a client we ensure that the website meets at least the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Priority 1. Usually our websites will exceed this basic standard. For websites that have a Content Management System we will offer advice about how to maintain this level of accessibility.

Want to find out more about accessibility?

You can find out more about the kinds of disabilities that can affect access to the Web here:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/Drafts/PWD-Use-Web/#diff

You can find out more about the The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) here:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/dda1992264/

You can read the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) advice regarding the DDA here:

http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/standards/www_3/www_3.html

To find out more about the W3C and the Web Accessibility Initiative see:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/

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