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What is Website Accessibility?

Having an accessible website is about making your site available to all visitors, even if they are blind or disabled . The Disability Discrimination Act states that anyone providing a service must not discriminate against disabled people. A website is considered to be a service under this law and it is therefore important that your website is accessible to everyone.

What does this mean for your website? Put very simply this means having a website which is built to the latest web standards, where the html structure is created with valid code and in which the elements of the site which are not made up of readable text (such as pictures, Flash headers, video) have alternative descriptions. A Quick overview for creating an accessible website can be found on the W3C.org website.

What are the Benefits of an Accessible Website?

Apart from the obvious advantage of making your website and its content accessible to every visitor, there are other benefits for your business.

"" Accessible Websites are quick to load & easy to manage

Websites created to the latest web standards separate the content of the website such as the words and pictures, and the styling. The styling for an accessible website is created using separate Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This means that changes to the styling of the site is made to the CSS document and the changes are applied site-wide. This is obviously quicker, and therefore easier on your wallet, than having to make styling changes on every page.

"" Accessible Websites are Search-engine Friendly

Search engines like websites which load quickly and whose style information is stored separately from the content. They cannot see images, Flash headers, video clips or javascript. In providing alternative information on these aspects of your site for blind visitors, you are also giving the search engines more information about the content of your site and potentially improving your ranking.

"" Your website will be viewable using new technologies such as mobile phones

This is a fast-moving area of the web and the number of people viewing websites using hand-held devices such as mobile phones is increasing daily. The most effective websites are "Responsive". They alter their layout and navigation to suit the screen size on which they are being used.

Read more about responsive website design.