Access for All: why digital accessibility matters and how to achieve it

The number of people accessing digital content is increasing at a rapid pace.

With the widespread availability of internet-connected devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, more people are accessing digital content than ever before. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend toward digital communication and online interactions, as many people have had to work, learn, and socialise remotely. As a result, private businesses and public organisations that want to reach a wide audience need to make digital accessibility one of their priorities to ensure that their content can be accessed by everyone, including those with disabilities. Of course, the move to online is nothing new, with over 83% of businesses now having an online presence.

According to the UK Government’s GOV.UK website, as of 2021, over 95% of charities have a website, while 67% of charities accept donations online. Additionally, many public sector organisations have been mandated to ensure that their websites and digital services are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, under the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

As digital technologies continue to evolve, it’s increasingly important to prioritise digital accessibility.


What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility refers to the practice of designing digital content, such as websites, apps, and documents, in a way that allows people with disabilities to access and use them effectively.

This includes ensuring that content can be navigated, understood, and interacted with by people with disabilities, such as those who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, have physical or motor disabilities, or cognitive or learning disabilities. Digital accessibility also involves making sure that assistive technologies, such as screen readers or speech recognition software, can properly interpret and interact with the content.

The goal of digital accessibility is to ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and benefit from digital content.


Why is digital accessibility important?

As digital technologies continue to evolve, it’s increasingly important to prioritise digital accessibility.

Ensuring your digital presence is fully accessible means you can:

  • Enhance the user experience
  • Improve your SEO
  • Differentiate your business from the competition
  • Boost your brand’s reputation, and
  • Comply with legal requirements.


According to a survey by Click-Away Pound, 71% of users with disabilities will leave a website immediately if it is not accessible, and 81% of users said that they would be more likely to return to a website that is accessible. This highlights the importance of digital accessibility not only for meeting legal requirements but also for retaining website visitors and potential customers.

But where does your website stand? And how can you ensure you meet all requirements, improve your user journey and be digitally accessible?

Here are our top tips for achieving digital accessibility on websites, as well as other digital content and documents like PDFs:

1. Choose the right Content Management System and templates

  • Choose a CMS such as WordPress with built-in accessibility features or plugins that can be added to improve accessibility.
  • Look for templates that are designed with accessibility in mind, such as those with clear and consistent layouts, high contrast, and scalable fonts.
  • Test your website with accessibility tools (see below) before launching to ensure it meets accessibility standards.


2. Structure your content appropriately

  • Use headers to break up content and create a logical flow.
  • Keep content concise and easy to understand.
  • Use lists and bullet points to make information more digestible.
  • Use plain language and avoid jargon or complex language.


You may find the HeadingsMap (Chrome extension) a useful tool.


3. Include alt text for images

  • Write descriptive alt text that accurately describes the content of the image.
  • Include alt text for decorative images as well, indicating that the image is decorative and not providing additional information.
  • Test your website with a screen reader to ensure that alt text is being read accurately.


WebAIM has a comprehensive article on alt text techniques.


4. Use clear and consistent navigation

  • Use clear and concise labels for navigation links.
  • Organise your navigation in a logical and consistent way.
  • Use breadcrumb trails to help users understand where they are on your website.
  • Provide a search function to help users find information quickly and easily.


5. Provide accessible multimedia content

  • Provide captions or transcripts for videos to make them accessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Use audio descriptions for videos to make them accessible to users who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Use accessible media players that allow users to adjust playback speed, volume, and caption settings.


6. Ensure forms are accessible

  • Use clear and concise labels for form fields.
  • Provide clear instructions for filling out the form.
  • Use error messages that clearly explain what went wrong and how to fix it.
  • Ensure that the form can be navigated using the keyboard.


7. Test your website with accessibility tools

  • Use accessibility testing tools to identify and fix accessibility issues.
  • Test your website with a screen reader to ensure that it can be navigated effectively.
  • Conduct user testing with people with disabilities to get feedback on the accessibility of your website.
  • Regularly review and update your website to ensure ongoing accessibility.


There are several website accessibility testing tools that are freely available, and some of the best ones are:

WAVE: WAVE is a free tool developed by WebAIM that allows you to test the accessibility of your website in real-time. It provides a visual representation of your website and highlights any issues with accessibility.

AChecker: AChecker is a free accessibility checker that analyses your web content against accessibility standards and provides detailed reports on any accessibility issues.

Axe: Axe is a free accessibility testing tool developed by Deque Systems. It provides a comprehensive analysis of your website’s accessibility issues and also offers guidance on how to fix them.

Accessibility Insights: Accessibility Insights is a free tool developed by Microsoft that offers automated and manual testing of your website’s accessibility. It provides a detailed report on your website’s accessibility issues and also offers guidance on how to fix them.

These tools can help you identify accessibility issues on your website and provide guidance on how to fix them, ensuring that your website is accessible to everyone.


How can we help?

Design Tribe is a specialist digital agency with extensive experience in creating accessible websites and digital content.

Our team of experts can provide a range of advice and guidance services to help your business or organisation achieve digital accessibility.

Firstly, we offer website, social media and document design and development services that are fully compliant with digital accessibility guidelines.

In addition to design and development, we also offer accessibility audits and testing services. Our team can review your website or digital content and provide detailed reports outlining any accessibility issues and recommended solutions.

We are also an Agency Partner for AccessiBe, a game-changer in web accessibility, simplifying and streamlining the process of becoming accessible and compliant using easily installed widgets alongside AI, machine learning, and computer vision.

Overall, our goal is to help your business or organisation create accessible digital content that is user-friendly and inclusive for all users. By working with Design Tribe, you can ensure that your digital presence is fully compliant with accessibility guidelines, and that you are effectively reaching the widest possible audience.

If you’re looking to improve the digital accessibility of your website or digital content, then we’re here to help.


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