Reasons for Accessibility

First and foremost it is illegal to produce a website that is inaccessible. The law covering this in the UK is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and has been in force since 1st October 1999. Whilst the Act makes no explicit reference to websites the supporting Code of Practice [PDF], published on 27th May 2002, does. This means that the majority of websites in the UK are already in breach.

The specifics from the Code of Practice [PDF] are:

Moral

No-one is better than anyone else, except in how they treat them

The web was born with a principle of inclusivity and it is the responsibility of everyone involved to ensure that it is possible for everyone to be involved.

Whilst this presents some of the statistics it is also important to consider users who are colour blind (approximately 10% of the male population), those with hearing difficulties, motor impairment (including the increasingly common RSI) and cognitive impairment (for example dyslexia).

There is no technical reason that these individuals should be excluded from the internet.

Financial

Many companies have benefited from ensuring their websites are accessible. This has almost been as a side effect of the conversion rather than a main goal. Legal and General in the recent launch of the PAS 78: Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites noted the following benefits following a program of re-design:

When one considers the surfing habits of the 1.08 billion people with internet access, it is clear that accessible sites are the most obvious choice for business:

Accessibility will provide a direct benefit to all these users either by supporting the browser platform they adopt or by reducing the size of the download. There is also a direct benefit to your organization as accessible sites tend to result in:

It is worth noting that the most prolific user of the internet is blind. Their name is Google! In creating an accessible site you are ensuring that it is easier for search engines to read your site. This will have a direct effect on listing position.

Dewoollery is a software development, usability and accessibility consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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