Why make your website accessible – design issues

Welcome sign with Braille characters. Making your business website accessible to disabled web users is a balancing act between complying with legal obligations (see the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and creating something that remains visually appealing and accurately disseminates the information you need to share. Websites designed for the screen reading software used by blind web surfers for instance often works best with plain text; this however is unsuitable for sighted users.

Instead, site owners need to carefully consider colour schemes to ensure text is easily distinguished from its background. Yellow text on a white background is problematic even for those with perfect sight, yet certain shades of grey are similarly difficult to read. Similarly, other design elements need to be correctly tagged to ensure that they are properly recognised by accessibility software.

When designing for accessibility, the actual words used on the page are of great importance. Where pictures and video can be used to reinforce a point for unimpaired web users, blind and partially sighted surfers cannot see these embellishments. Instead the text on your website needs to be finely tuned so that your message is easily understood by everyone.

Designing an accessible site that is legally compliant, and which is actually usable by the widest possible audience, is an expert job.

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