Published: 11 August 2017
In order to comply with standards and legislation, websites must be accessible to all users – including those with disabilities that may hinder browsing otherwise.
Business can struggle with meeting these standards, and due to legal implications, a great deal of time and money can be spent on making sure that a website is up to par.
Happily, there is a suite of tools that can be used to achieve this.
What Are the Standards for Website Accessibility?
Standards vary from region to region and country to country, but there are government documents easily found online.
Regarding the UK: As described on gov.uk, you must build an accessible service as part of meeting the following points:
- You must understand the user’s needs
- You must performing ongoing user research to make sure you leave no-one behind, and that user feedback is received
- You must make sure that a user succeeds in using your website service on their first attempt
For a full list of these points, click here.
How Can I Achieve Accessibility Standards?
Overview of Guidelines for Web Content Accessibility (WCAG)
Below is a list of some disabilities, what a website must take into consideration, and how your CMS can be used to comply:
A website’s colour palette can look lovely, but if it does not have enough contrast to make different elements stand out, users with colour blindness will not be able to navigate easily enough to meet accessibility standards. A quick way of doing this is simply to view the website in grayscale, and see for yourself if each of your elements stand out enough.
Images on a website may not be legible for all users, particularly those with partial blindness. To assist users with this hindrance, alt-text should be given to each image, and given in full, grammatically correct sentences – keyword spam will only frustrate your user if they have a text-to-speech extension or application (as well as harm your SEO)!
Navigation must also be given a great deal of consideration, as any text-to-speech application will read the top and side navigation each time a page loads. You can understand how frustrating this can be. This can be solved in your CMS by adding a hidden link in your template that skips down to the page content, or allowing for keyboard shortcuts to skip already-read segments of a page.
Media and Content
Similar to images, any flash or video-based media also requires some form of text description to appeal to text-reading apps. The simple addition of a <noscript> text will allow you to describe to your users what your media is and what the content consists of. Here is a great resource on how to make YouTube video accessible.
Advanced Sitecore Techniques
While the above disabilities can be catered to via the CMS, more work is required in order to meet WCAG and the American 508 standards. As you no doubt know by now, Sitecore is a delightfully capable platform for building websites, and this range of capability means that you can achieve accessibility standards – by utilising automated validation tools, built into the workflow at both ‘field’ level (with a Custom Field Validation) or at the workflow level, via an API to a 3rd party audit service. With this method, content authors will be able to validate content additions as they are added.
Building and maintaining a website can be difficult before even considering how to adhere to legal standards. We at Sagittarius are happy to speak to you about your development requirements and are able to assist you with the extra responsibility that accessibility standards bring. To speak to our experts, get in touch by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or pick up the phone and give us a call on 01233 467800, we would love to hear from you!