With everyone in lockdown, it's more important than ever for websites to be accessible to all users. Many websites create barriers to people with disabilities. This can make it difficult for users to access information or order products and services. Many business owners are completely unaware that their websites can cause problems for people with disabilities.
We launched the Campaign to Improve Web Accessibility to increase awareness of the issues and help ensure that websites are accessible to all users.
To start the ball rolling, we scanned 100 websites in and around Bude to see how accessible local websites are. All of the websites tested had issues and some would cause significant problems. Find out more about how we tested and the results below.
What is web accessibility?
An accessible website is one that is designed to be as inclusive as possible, allowing anyone to use it. An accessible website should allow users to interact with it, whether they use a mouse, touch screen, keyboard or assistive technology (such as a screen reader). Text should be clear for users with low vision and text alternatives should be available for any images, audio and video present on the website. Information should be presented in a clear and well structured way to help users understand and access the content.
How accessible are websites in and around Bude?
To get an idea how good or bad local web accessibility currently is, we selected one hundred websites, including:
- Shops and other businesses listed on Welcome to Bude and other business directories
- Local councils
- Local news/information websites
We ran a automated accessibility scan of the home page for all of the hundred sites. Automated scans only pick out around 20 to 30% of accessibility issues but are a simple way to get an idea whether a website is likely to be accessible to people with disabilities or not. The results were analysed to show the most common problems across all the websites.
Some of the top issues included:
- Colour contrast - poor colour contrast can make it difficult to see text on the screen and this can be particularly difficult for visually impaired visitors.
- Links and labels - many people use screen reader software to read out information from web pages. Incorrect naming of links can result in screen readers reading out messages such as "blank", or "link" which obviously makes it impossible for the user to know what the link would do. When filling in forms, it's essential that the form has been created to give the correct information to screen reader users. A poorly set up form can make it nearly impossible for a screen reader user to fill it in.
- Image alt (alternative) text - this is used to describe images to visually impaired users through screen reader software. On many websites, no alt text is added to images at all, and on others the information is incomplete or unhelpful.
We've been monitoring the 100 websites over the last few months and unfortunately the number of problems are increasing.
What you can do to help
Some accessibility issues are simple to fix and can be resolved in a few minutes.
Colour contrast is one of those issues. If the contrast of text to background is too low then a tool like WAVE will detect that. Enter your website address into WAVE and then look for Contrast Errors on the left of the screen. Simply pick a combination of colours that has more contrast and check again.
Your website should allow you to add alt text to images. To find out more it's worth reading WebAIM's article on alt text which details the best approach for alt text for different types of images.
For more information and help, don't hesitate to leave a comment below or contact us. We'll be happy provide a quick overview of your website and point you in the right direction so that you can improve the experience for all your customers.
And please don't forget to pledge your commitment to improving web accessibility using the form below.