What do I need to know about accessibility

Accessibility is just a term used to describe the ability of various disabled groups to be able to use your website.

There are some industry standards known as WCAG that define how a website should be written so that it is accessible to disabled users and also the specialist software used by disabled users. Unlike most web designers, OpenGlobal follow these standards. They are fairly simple to comply with so there's no reason for not doing it.

Some people are worried about the legal situation regarding website accessibility.

The Disability Discrimination Act says that all commercial websites should be accessible to disabled users. There is no definition of what makes a website accessible, so the general assumption is that a website must comply with the WCAG standards. In the UK, nobody has been taken to court yet over an inaccessible website so there has not yet been any test case to firmly set down the precedence on whether the WCAG standards are a suitable definition. In short, until further notice, it is probably safe to assume that WCAG compliance is enough.

In the US and Australia, there have been successful court cases over inaccessible websites under similar legislation, so it probably will not be long before the same happens here. the Disability Rights Commission has already written to 800 companies to demand that their website is modified to make it accessible or face court action. All 800 companies complied with the instructions.

So what are the risks for you? As a large company, I would say, check your website, and get it fixed. Quick! But as an SME, it is probably not as urgent. There are bigger fish to fry at the moment. However, if you site is not accessible to disabled users, you could be losing out on potential new customers, so it is in your best interests financially, to check your website and get it fixed.

Having said that, I am not a lawyer, so if you decide to do nothing about it because you are only a small company, you can't blame us if you get sued. All websites should be WCAG complaint as a matter of course. If you've paid a professional to design your website, you don't expect to get sued because it isn't legally complaint.

You can check the WCAG complaince of your website at http://www.cynthiasays.com. I suggest you do, and I suggest you do something about your web designer if your website doesn't pass the test.


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