Three tips to take you further along the path to digital inclusion, which won’t break the bank.
First is a simple shift in perspective which, if encouraged to permeate throughout your organisation, will go a long way to improve practices and avoid mistakes. You should encourage people to think of the subject in terms of inclusion and not accessibility. When you think of accessibility as an isolated, bolt-on issue then it is easily forgotten from the procurement process, left out of projects for lack of budget to cover this ‘additional’ item, or thought of as extra work to cater for those allusive disabled customers. Research has shown that inclusive design benefits every visitor to a website – thus it should be core to the business strategy of any organisation. If you struggle to get accessibility and inclusive design given sufficient priority in your company, check out the compelling business case behind inclusive design at http://www.onevoiceict.org/tools/tools.
Secondly, you should review your site against the WCAG2.0 guidelines and decide which of the non-compliant checkpoints can be readily resolved – i.e. identify the low-hanging fruit. The others you can then plan on addressing in the slightly longer term. If the guidelines are hard to get to grips with try starting with the W3C cheatsheet – a quick reference to all W3C guidelines (and optimised using the MWBPs (‘Mobile Web Best Practice’ guidelines) so great on your smartphone too) – http://www.w3.org/2009/cheatsheet/. Bring it up on your phone’s browser now and add a shortcut icon to your home screen. Also having an automated compliance tool will certainly help in this process – being able to scan your entire site for issues is definitely the quickest and most powerful way to get an overview of your site’s overall level of compliance.
Lastly, you should invite user feedback. Clearly flag on your site that you welcome feedback from customers – particularly disabled customers and those using unusual ways of accessing your site. This is ‘free’ user testing that will give you a good reputation for being inclusive and also provide valuable input into your accessibility journey. We (AbilityNet) can also help to provide disabled users if needs be.
Listen to the HiSoftware and AbilityNet webinar on how inclusive design is the fastest way to customer acquisition.
Robin Christopherson is Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet, the UK’s leading technology and disability charity. AbilityNet are passionate about the empowering nature of technology – and Robin, himself blind, is an authoritative global voice on the awesome power of tech.