Today I witnessed Birmingham City Council change it’s tune from singing it was fully compliant with the W3C guidelines ‘We are pleased to announce that this web site meets with W3C WAI-AA and WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards.’ to quietly saying it ‘aims to meet’ them [changed at 09.30].

This retraction less than 10 hours after going live on a website costing over £2.4 million+ and we believe a direct result of our responses on Twitter

It fails to get off the starting starting line in accessibility terms yet Glyn Evans is quoted in Birmingham Post saying:

“We have tried to design a site that is suitable for the majority of our residents. We are not designing it for the Twitterati.”.

So that’s all right then – forget that the minority of your residents are Disabled, Deaf or elderly residents, or have English as a second language.

The Disability Discrimination Act doesn’t currently lay out the standards. There are The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and  egovernment guidelines which government sites should follow. A lot of it is common sense.

Try this – my TOP 10 Accessibility Test – my site failed most of them. I now have to upgrade wordpress to enable even basic accessibility – why is this not standard?

TOP 10 Accessibility Test can you?

  • Navigate your whole site without using your mouse e.g tab across? How far does it get you?
  • Navigate your site without using a mouse using standard access shortcuts e.g. b for about, 1 for Home page?
  • Increase your text size – how far does it increase from original?
  • What font style do you use – is it Verdana, Helvetica, Geneva, Arial, sans serif? If not then it is more difficult to read.
  • Can you change the background colour and contrast e.g. black/white, white/black, black on pastel?
  • Does your site use video? Is it subtitled? What about audio described?
  • Do you use audio? Do you provide a transcript?
  • Do you have alt descriptions on your images?
  • Find the Accessibility Statement outlining how to navigate the  site?
  • Find the A A A tab on the home page? Does it work?

If you can’t do even the basics to meet with Level ‘A’ (and there is more to the basics than the above)  how can visitors?

How do you plan and deliver good accessible website design:

Pesky People’s 10 Commandments

I shall …

  • Do my research – I will find out what makes a good website design that is accessible for a range of access needs.

  • Undertake Disability Awareness Training / Deaf Awareness Training and ensure key staff do this too.

  • Know my legal requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005.

  • Consult with local Disabled and Deaf people about my current site – whether a local Disability group or charity – what they like / hate before writing the brief.

  • Write a good website design brief  that demands the includes W3C  compliance’s / egovernment guidelines. This includes budgeting requirements.

  • Ensure my website shall meet Level ‘A’ minimum, Level ‘AA’ would be fantastic. Level ‘AAA’ would put me in the 1% of fully accessible websites – worldwide.

  • Employ web designers who know what they are doing and have a track record of incorporating accessibility  and working to budgets (even if I don’t understand it)

  • Be aware that all Disabled people’ are not a homogenous group – all access needs are not the same.

  • Incorporate usability testing with Disabled and Deaf people to find out what works and what doesn’t at key stages of design and implementation before site goes live and afterwards.

  • Be creative not dull in incorporating disability access. My website can still be sexy not boring.

So what will you be doing to make your website accessible? Pesky People would like to hear from you.