When designing a new website, many businesses remain completely unaware of the laws that govern the project. Many may know their responsibilities under the Distance Selling Regulations, or even the need to include a physical address on their site, but how many are aware of their obligations according to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995?
Just as your high street store is expected to be accessible to people with disabilities, Section 19 of the DDA enforces similar rules. New websites must comply with the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines which govern how webpages are accessed by disabled users.
The WAI guidelines are intended to open the Internet to everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. To this end, WAI guidelines are intended to help web designers and developers create sites that are useful to the widest possible audience.
When properly applied, WAI allows websites to be “read” by special software and spoken to blind web users for instance. Failure to account for these people could lead to your business breaching the Disability Discrimination Act and being heavily fined as a result. There is also the small matter of negative publicity should your business website fail to meet website accessibility standards.