New Government regulations mean that from 23rd September 2019, every public sector website will need to meet certain accessibility standards, and by 2021 apps will also have to make changes to comply with the regulations.
So, why has this law come into place?
The aim of the change is to ensure websites and apps are usable by all, particularly those with disabilities.
The regulation specifically outlines that these platforms must be ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’ in order to cater to those with disabilities including impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities and deafness or impaired vision.
What can you do to become more accessible?
The first step is for you and your team to read the GDS guidance on what accessibility is and why you need to invest in it.
Next, you need to rethink the fundamentals of your website and all areas that need to become accessible. This includes:
A cluttered layout may overwhelm users, so it may be worth streamlining your content, adding in options to alternate format, such as larger print. Ensuring that users can adapt the layout to fit various screen sizes will also be a crucial part in redesign, as it will help those with impaired vision.
Your messaging is another element that needs attention. Structure of text is important and a logical journey will be paramount to easy navigation.
Uneven spacing, long sentences or paragraphs, italic fonts and text colour are also design features that must be considered. Whilst colour is important to branding, make sure no elements of your platform rely solely on colour.
Where appropriate, video and audio content must have text or sign language added, as well as audio aid so all messaging can be communicated. If you feel added audio/video is not vital, explore other media outlets. Also remember that the new regulations will not affect live/pre-recorded audio and video published before 23rd September 2020.
Whilst it is currently public sector bodies such as governmental or charity organisations who must obey these regulations, it is interesting to open the conversation surrounding website accessibility. This regulation may be a good starting point for everyone to start to take a deeper look into online platforms to make sure they are truly inclusive for all customers.
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