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Web accessibility

What is web accessibility and why is it important?

 

Web accessibility is about making sure that the internet can be used by everyone. This includes people with disability, children, elderly people, people who speak languages other than English – everyone in our community.

It’s about making sure that everyone can be included in the information age.

 

Web accessibility is a human rightA range of people using computers

It is essential that the web is accessible to everyone in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with diverse abilities.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises access to information and communications technologies, including the web, as a basic human right.

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the web:

  • visual
  • auditory
  • physical
  • speech
  • cognitive
  • neurological.


Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, interact and contribute to the web.

Considering how much we rely on the internet to interact and engage with friends and family, with businesses, with the community and with government, this is an essential part of full participation in our community.

 

What makes a website accessible?

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, interact and contribute to the web.

Considering how much we rely on the internet to interact and engage with friends and family, with businesses, with the community and with government, this is an essential part of full participation in our community.

 

What will happen if I don’t make my website accessible?

According to the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), all organisations must have an accessible website.

In Australia, and around the world, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are considered to be the official set of rules outlining what makes a website accessible. There are different versions of WCAG, and different levels. HREOC says that an accessible website meets WCAG 2.0, level AA.

Many people think that it’s only government departments or large organisations that must have an accessible website.

This isn’t so.

Your website should be accessible.

 

What will happen if I don't make my website accessible?

If someone cannot access your website, they can make a complaint against your organisation. By complying with WCAG 2.0 AA, organisations minimise the prospect that a complaint will be made. If you do nothing, you run the risk of a complaint possibly becoming legal action and your business or organisation receiving negative publicity.

According to HREOC, if you are providing services, products or information in the following sectors, you must have an accessible website:

  • employment
  • education
  • provision of services including professional services, banking, insurance or financial services, entertainment or recreation, telecommunications services, public transport services, or government services
  • sale or rental of real estate
  • sport
  • activities of voluntary associations
  • administration of Commonwealth laws and programs.

 

Still not convinced?

There are compelling social reasons for making your website accessible.

  • Ivan, an elderly man who lives by himself in a rural town, uses the internet to stay up to date with what is happening in his community. Websites that aren't accessible prevent him from contributing wholly and staying engaged with the locals. When Ivan cannot use a website properly, the community is denied the knowledge and experience that he could bring to local issues.
An elderly man using a computer
  • Lin has only been in Australia a few months. Her brother recently passed away and she has come to sort out his affairs. English is not first Lin's first language so she often struggles to comprehend official documents. Lin turned to the internet to help guide her with them but has found it difficult to navigate through pages or locate the right information. This means she is unable to settle her brother's estate.
An asian woman using a laptop
 
  • Anita has a vision impairment and has recently moved out on her own. She has been trying to arrange her utilities online but has found that many of the websites don't accommodate her disability. She is unable to process the information clearly and has had to arrange for her mother to help her. Anita was hoping to cultivate some independence, however not being able to use these websites has resulted in Anita suffering a blow to her dignity and now she is unsure if she can handle the responsibility of living alone.

A woman at a computer with her head in her hand

No matter what industry or sector you are working in, we highly recommend that you make sure your website is accessible.

Many accessibility features are easily implemented if they are planned from the beginning of web site development or design. Fixing inaccessible web sites can require significant effort.

A range of people using computers

 

How can the Information Access Group help?

We offer a range of services in website accessibility that help you to comply with WCAG 2.0 AA. These services include:

The Information Access Group specialises in making information accessible for a wide range of audiences, including:

  • people with disability
  • adults with low literacy levels
  • people who speak languages other than English
  • elderly people.

We make documents easy to read and websites easy to use

On a day-to-day basis, the Information Access Group is required to provide accessible versions of the files we produce. Every document that we produce for online publishing is delivered to our client with accessibility checks completed. We provide accessible documents that meet the standards of the Australian Government Information Office (AGIMO). In particular, we prepare accessible PDF according to the following specifications from AGIMO:

 

"PDF does not yet have approved Sufficient Techniques to claim WCAG 2.0 conformance, so it cannot be ‘relied upon’ in the provision of government information. At least one other format must be provided with all PDF documents… This does not mean that PDFs cannot be made accessible to some people in some conditions. If prepared well, it can be a highly accessible and usable document format."

 

As AGIMO clearly explain, PDF cannot be used as the only method to access the information. An alternative, such as a Word document, RTF or HTML version must also be supplied. We regularly supply two versions of all of the files that we produce, most often this is as PDF and Word.

We offer a range of services in website accessibility that help you to comply with WCAG 2.0 AA. These services include:

Accessible website design and development – services for organisations who want a new website that is accessible from the outset

Accessibility audits – testing your website and reporting on areas to be addressed

Accessibility updates – fixing your website to make it comply with current accessibility standards (primarily WCAG 2.0 AA)

Monitoring and maintenance – regular testing to ensure your website stays compliant

Conversion of documents to HTML or alternative formats

Accessible documents, including tagged PDFs and accessible word docs.

 

LetMeLetMe logo

LetMe is an easy-to-use website content management system developed by the Information Access Group to support web editors with little or no experience to manage and maintain their own website and its content, small or large, simple or complex.

Our clients love LetMe because it:

  • is easy to use — people with little or no web experience can easily make updates
  • has accessibility features to help organisations create compliant websites.