Web accessibility refers to the practice of designing websites that are accessible to disabled people. For example, people with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive impairments. Everyone, regardless of their abilities, should be able to access information and services online.
Why Accessibility Matters for Third Sector Organisations
Third-sector oranisations have a unique responsibility to ensure their websites are accessible to all users. These organisations often work with marginalised communities, including disabled people so, it’s important that their websites reflect their commitment to equality and inclusivity.
In addition to ethical considerations by ensuring that their content is available to all users, these organisations can expand their impact and connect with people who may not have been able to access their services otherwise.
If their websites are not accessible third sector oranisations leave themselves open to potential legal challenges – if they are percieved to be discrimination against disabled people – under the Equality Act 2010. Lawsuits and negative publicity can harm the reputation and effectiveness of third sector organisations.
Designing an Accessible Website for Third Sector Organisations
Creating an accessible website involves following best practices for website design and using tools and resources that can help ensure accessibility. Some best practices include:
Providing options for users to increase text size or adjust colors for better readability.
There are also several tools and resources available to help third-sector organisations create accessible websites. Accessibility checkers can scan websites for potential accessibility issues, and WCAG guidelines provide detailed information about best practices for accessibility.
Feedback from website design and WCAG 2 accessibility audit clients
Published: June 7, 2013
Sealed Envelope Ltd
Jim at extremely short notice kindly provided us with an informal audit of one of our web-based demo randomisation systems. The audit was extremely comprehensive, clear and demonstrated his expertise in the area of accessible web design. From our initial contact Jim was professional, extremely helpful, attentive, responsive and a pleasure to work with. Jim is extremely knowledgeable and skilled and we would highly recommend him. Peter Madden, Project Manager, Sealed Envelope Ltd
CLOSER – the home of longitudinal research
We requested a root-and-branch evaluation of our website to help inform its development, and in a short space of time Jim and his fantastic team put together an incredibly comprehensive report that fulfilled every aspect of our brief.
He was able to identify specific instances of non-compliance, as well as highlight recurring themes and issues and make recommendations to ensure that our web presence not only complies with WCAG AA standards but is fully optimised for usability. Moreover, the first-hand feedback from his auditors provided an invaluable insight into the UX of users with disabilities.
I’d be delighted to recommend Jim and his colleagues to anyone looking to make their web presence accessible to the widest possible audience. Alex Norton (Communications Manager, CLOSER)
Talking About Tomorrow – A Contact microsite
Jim’s involvement was absolutely central in enabling us to get this very ambitious website up and running. From first discussions to final launch, he supported us and worked with us to create a unique information hub for parents and carers of young disabled people. The feedback we have received since the launch has justified the time, attention to detail and energy invested in the project, and we could not have delivered anything on this scale without Jim’s creativity, experience and sound advice. Thank you Jim!
Some of the comments we have received:
“Overall I think it’s brilliant. I liked the appearance and layout. A great colour scheme, very readable font and clear headings to the different areas. It was easy to find my way around and get to where I wanted. I loved the Jargon Buster!” – Parent
“I absolutely love this website! We’ll definitely be referring parents to it and using it ourselves.” – Parent support agency “It looks amazing and is so easy to navigate, and there are no obvious mistakes I can see. I love it and you should be so so proud of the amount of hard work you’ve put into it.” – Parent support agency
“A friend heard about your site on 5 live and suggested I have a look. Wow! I’m very glad she did.” – Parent
Jim provided us with a comprehensive audit of one of the websites we manage allowing us to iron out all the accessibility issues that existed. The informal report was clear, complete and was obviously the result of a meticulous survey of the website. It was provided within days of requesting it. Matt Barber, Toco Digital
Jim provided us with auditing and training services to help the University’s websites and applications meet new government regulations on digital accessibility. His reports were extremely thorough, and have provided an excellent basis for the University to offer better services to students, staff and the public. The training offered gave our staff an excellent insight into designing and developing for users with special requirements, and we look forward to providing an accessible digital experience to all users thanks to Jim’s help and expertise. Ralph Mackenzie, Front-End Website Designer/Developer, University of Strathclyde
Stewart Readman Photography
Great communication during the whole website design process and excellent information gathering to determine what my requirements were for the site and what I wanted it to achieve. Very good after-sales service too with extensive tuition to help me update everything. Strongly recommend. Stewart Readman – Photography
‘Jim provided us with a comprehensive review of 4 of our key websites to ensure that they meet the guidelines regards accessibility. From initial meetings he set out the process that he and his team would follow to audit the sites, any information he required before starting and examples of the format in which we would receive the report and feedback. We were given drafts of each report before finalising the outcome of the audits and it was made clear where we needed to make improvements. Excellent communication throughout and a pleasure to work with.’ Graeme Clifton Coles Business Support Manager | Sustrans Scotland
Evenbreak – Helping talented disabled candidates and inclusive employers to find each other
We needed a new developer to take over our website, and as our customers are disabled people, it was crucial that the site should be as accessible as possible. Jim came highly recommended from experts in web accessibility, and so we engaged him to take over the Evenbreak site for us. However, Evenbreak is an online job board, and therefore a very complex site, with facilities for employers to pay for and post their roles, candidates to register and search for jobs, and many other complexities. Jim took all of this in his stride, having to understand the thinking of the previous developers very quickly. In addition to all of this, we asked Jim to design a bespoke portal for us, with very little lead-in time, which he worked on tirelessly, ensuring it was up to a fantastic standard for when we launched it.
I have vast confidence in Jim’s abilities, and am frankly quite amazed that he met all of our very demanding requirements so quickly and so professionally! We will be asking him to entirely re-build our site using his talents to build in both accessibility and responsiveness from the start. Many developers claim to have knowledge in these areas, but in my experience, very few if any have the practical knowledge and pragmatic approach that Jim has. I would advise any organisation looking for a high quality accessible website to talk to Jim. You won’t be disappointed (he’s also incredibly easy to work with). Jane Hatton, Founder/Director, Evenbreak.
SiTE Scotland – supporting people who are blind or have a visual impairment
I met Jim a couple of years ago when he was presenting to a conference on accessible websites. I contacted him to bid for our new website and he has engaged with me and our team to provide what is a fantastic website which is the central point of our promotion and communication strategy.
Jim worked very closely with us at every stage, listened to what our needs and those of the sight loss community and provided us with exactly what we wanted and more.
None of our team had any experience in web design but Jim took us all through the processes involved in a manner which was easily to understand. and which we have learned so much.
Jim listened to our requirements and he helped us to focus and prioritise during the initial stages when we all felt out of our depth! He put in a power of hard work and creative thinking to deliver a high quality, usable, accessible and visually appealing website, within budget, which we have already had lots of positive feedback about. We are proud of our new website and I would gladly recommend working with Jim. Emma Whitelock Chief Executive Officer
Edinburgh Tenants Federation
“Edinburgh Tenants Federation worked with Jim Byrne in an exciting project to overhaul our branding and website. Jim’s brief was to help ETF develop an easy to use website with a fresher look that would appeal to a younger audience and have increased functionality. We had a vision of what we wanted the website to do, and Jim’s technical brilliance and experience of web design helped us to achieve what we needed.
A big part of the brief was to redesign our branding and logo – and in this we were much less clear how we wanted to proceed. Jim’s patience and close work with his designer meant we got a vibrant new image that we could use across all media.
As an advisory service on technology and disability it was critical for us that our Publisher Lookup website scored well on accessibility. I was delighted recently when a blind colleague was surfing round the site and spontaneously exclaimed “This is a really accessible website”. I told her we like to use people who know their stuff!
As the developer who designed these services with LCIL I am of course extremely happy to hear about this award.
I got this nice email from Catherine Garrod,
Hi Jim, I think Carol has already let you know that LCIL has won a Breakthrough Independent Living Award under the Information category for the LCIL website and the Grapevine Online service. The judges were particularly impressed with the website and asked for the name of the person who designed the website.
So much of the credit goes to you for producing our new website. Breakthrough UK is a user-led disability organisation so it has been a particular honour for us to receive recognition for the website and online service from this group.
Thank you. Such small words to express the meaning of what you have achieved for us. Our charity scoured the myriad of adverts offering accessible website designs; but which one, at what cost, a series of never ending questions, search after search.
One name Jim Byrne kept appearing, not in the form of advertisement and promises, but praise for the work he does in development, design and tutorials on accessible website design.
We are so pleased that we followed what everyone else was recommending Jim Byrne – Accessible Web Design” our new website is a landmark for us, and an example to angling clubs, businesses and local authorities who encourage disabled visitors to their website.
Jim, you are not only professional in what you do, but offer friendly and constructive advice and patience throughout the build. Thank you simply isn’t enough.
I was also very pleased to get the following email from Terry:
We all realise the amount of work that you have dedicated to this project, and the barrage of emails that arrive daily to your inbox from me, you must have the “patience of Job”. On behalf of the trustees I would like to offer our sincere thanks for all the hard work and support for the charity.
ICW Accountancy are very happy with the service that Jim has provided us. From the very first day he set up our website, he has been helpful, attentive and was always willing to suggest things to improve our website and image online. If we required any changes to our website, or help with anything, Jim was very efficient and would take action immediately. We would thoroughly recommend Jim, and look forward to many more years in our successful working relationship together.
Isabella Christie (FCCA) ICW Accountancy
Beaumont Virtual Assistant Services
I was recommended to Jim Byrne and Associates through my graphic designer who has worked with him previously.
After my first initial telephone conversation, I felt very reassured that he would produce a website fit for purpose. I felt that Jim went above and beyond whilst working for me, as he often helped me with technical queries that I was unsure of or didn’t know how to do. He also provided me with additional information on online marketing and Social Media to get me started.
When we were looking for someone to design our new website we literally looked the length and breadth of the country but Jim’s understanding of the sector and his superlative technical skill made him stand out from the crowd!
Jim has been involved with the Get Connected and Lead Project almost from its inception. He has offered us invaluable advice and insight into the best ways to achieve our aims and outcomes via the website. We presented Jim with our vision of what we wanted and he surpassed our wildest expectations with a visually pleasing, technically superb, fully accessible, interactive website.
Jim is very easy to work with, nothing phases him – even when we completely changed our minds about the Virtual Learning Environment half way through then asked him to build a bespoke VLE from scratch!
Jim has conducted several brainstorming and training sessions with our team and his easy manner and comprehensive knowledge enable him to put the message across to people in an easy to understand way.
I would have absolutely no hesitation in highly recommending Jim Byrne and Associates to anyone requiring an accessible website.
Eleanor Brown Project Co-ordinator Lead Scotland, Get Connected and Lead: Maximising the Influence of Minority Voices Project
Scottish Information Commissioner
I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you very much for coming to St Andrews and training us on web accessibility today. All the participants have fed back to me that they found it excellent, really helpful and pitched at just the right level for what we are trying to do.
Susan Gray, Freedom of Information Officer, Scottish Information Commissioner
When CoLRiC needed a new website, Jim Byrne understood the need to deliver against our requirements and our budget. Notwithstanding the fact that the commissioning group were spread across the UK, and Jim is in Scotland, the project was completed efficiently and on budget. Offering clear advice on web technology and design, Jim carefully guided us through the process to taking the project live on the planned date!
Richard Brine, CoLRiC Committee Member
Scottish Accessible Information Forum (SAIF)
Jim has worked with the Scottish Accessible Information Forum, (SAIF) for over 10 years and we regard him as our resident expert on accessibility and the web. Last year, Jim redesigned our website to give it a fresh new look while keeping accessibility as a priority. He is always willing to help out with any questions we have and gets back to us promptly with a solution. We would have no hesitation recommending him to other organisations, and we frequently do whenever we get the chance!
As a user-led disability organisation, we were looking for a website that was easy to use, fully accessible, colourful and attractive. Jim worked with us over many months, listening carefully to our ideas which frequently changed and developed as time progressed.
One of the specifications for the website was for a new online advice facility providing live, interactive advice directly to our service users. Jim provided us with the expert knowledge we needed to set this up. His technical expertise was invaluable and he gave us lots of good advice about what would work best, always ensuring that he was meeting our individual needs.
We are very happy with the completed website that Jim has produced. It is a unique, accessible, eye catching website that will serve us for years to come. We have also had some fantastic feedback from our service users and stakeholders. Jim continues to provide us with advice and help with the website and is always friendly and helpful. We would be happy to recommend Jim Byrne to any organisation looking for help with creating a new website.
Catherine Garrod, Information Co-ordinator, The Lothian Centre for Integrated Living (LCIL)
Health Rights Information Scotland
Jim recently conducted an accessibility audit of the Health Rights Information Scotland (HRIS) website. The report was extremely detailed. It explained what the WCAG guidelines mean, how compliance was assessed, what problems were identified and how these could be fixed. We are confident that implementing Jim’s recommendations will greatly improve the accessibility of our site. The report was, as far as possible, free from technical jargon, and Jim was always more than happy to have a chat about things we did not understand. This evaluation has been extremely useful.
Brigitte Cosford – Project Support Officer – Health Rights Information Scotland
Centre for Social Policy and Social Work (SWAP)
Jim’s support helped us think through the different issues associated with developing our website to meet our needs as well as accessibility essentials. His feedback at different stages of the process was also an important factor in helping us shape and improve our design.
Julia Waldman, Deputy Director Higher Education Academy’s Subject Centre for Social Policy and Social Work (SWAP)
We are a national service working in the field of accessibility and technology in education. We were developing a particular web resource with the Publishers Association and needed someone to build that for us who fully understood the need for a website to be practically usable as well as theoretically accessible.
Jim delivered exactly what we wanted, to a difficult time scale and with constantly changing requirements. He quickly grasped what was required and constantly delivered high quality work right on target. I would have no hesitation in recommending Jim for building accessible and usable web-based resources quickly and effectively. We will certainly be using his services again in the future.
We are an organisation ran for and by disabled people. We needed an accessible website which was easy to use and looked good and that’s what we got! Jim was exactly the right person to do this for us as he understands our sector and could interpret my lay person’s ideas using his high level of technical expertise and experience to translate this into a website.
We were delighted with the results. We were confident in Jim’s track record- who better to do our website than someone who was joint author of the Standards for Disability Information and Advice Provision in Scotland on Making Websites Accessible!
Jim is friendly, helpful and reliable: nothing is ever too much trouble. Added value in using Jim has been his range of articles and tutorials and he is on hand to respond to requests for help even now! With his former background as a lecturer and trainer, Jim was ideally placed to provide training sessions for our staff on using the website and keeping up with new developments. We are still in touch about the website and he has provided a service which has been above and beyond the contract.
I would highly recommend Jim Byrne and Associates to any organisation in need of an accessible website.
As a user-led organisation, run by, for and employing disabled people, it was critical that our new system was fully accessible and met W3C level 2 criteria. We therefore employed Jim Byrne as an independent consultant to fully analyse and test our new website to ensure that it met the high standards for web accessibility which we specified to our IT company. Jim’s expertise was invaluable, he guided us through this complex area provided a bridge to translate our user voice into technical specifications and standards, we were very pleased with his work.
Grant Carson, Manager, Housing and Employment Services, GCIL
Wilkinson & Corr Ltd
We were introduced to Jim by a current user of the product when we embarked on a website redesign, upgrade and link to a dynamic mySql database.
Our business is quite unique and it was obvious from an early stage that significant customisation of the standard product was required. This was done in a challenging time frame and at a cost which we felt was good value for money.
Our site went live without major problems and all relevant staff members have found it straightforward to use Jim’s product on almost a daily basis. We have not had a need for ongoing support as yet but based on the implementation process, I am confident that Jim’s service will meet our expectations.
Barry Corr, Director, Wilkinson & Corr Ltd
South Lakes Society for the Blind
As an organisation providing support to visually impaired people, we had scoured the web to find a content management system that is easy to use AND that produces accessible web output. QnECMS has provided both of these things and we are now in a position where we can update content easily and we have a clean, simple website that transforms gracefully when people change the screen settings. During the set-up, Jim provided sound and flexible support; he responded quickly to all queries and when we did have a few snags he made sure we were sorted out as quickly as possible. All-in-all a very professional service and very reasonably priced too
Dave Egan Development Director South Lakes Society for the Blind
KAS Personal Shopping and corporate gifts
Jim has recently completed my web-site and I have to say I am delighted with it. The results are professional, informative and also fashionable which is important to my business. I was very impressed with Jim as not only did I find him knowledgeable, helpful and patient he was quick on the uptake and seemed to know exactly what I required.
I found it a real pleasure to work with Jim therefore I would not hesitate to recommend him, in fact I have already done so.
Kathy Sharp, KAS Personal Shopping and corporate gifts.
Jim Byrne has designed and created the Scottish Pottery Society web site for us and has this has received very favourable comments from everyone. The management system that he has provided us to modify, alter and expand our domain is clear and very effective. His instruction to us novices has been clear and he has always been quick to help me when I have had problems in creating special items on pages. I am pleased to recommend him and his content management system.
Douglas Leishman, Secretary of the Scottish Pottery Society
Jim Byrne redesigned the Women’s History Scotland website a number of years ago for us on the recommendation of a friend. Prior to its redesign we had experienced a number of problems with the site…these we have no more…the site is user friendly (for both browsers and authors). Jim’s professional, helpful and friendly manner, moreover, is an added bonus!
As website co-ordinator of Women’s History Scotland, it’s my duty to maintain and update the site with any relevant information. I am able to do this quite easily as the website is easy to manage (even for one with limited knowledge of html) and when I need any assistance, Jim is just an email away – and nothing is ever too much trouble for him. I would certainly have no hesitation in recommending him to anyone wishing to utilise his skills and services.
Jim Byrne was recommended to me by a friend who had recently had her website designed by him and was completely satisfied with the service she had received. I am a novice when it comes to technology but Jim took care to talk me though the whole process in plain English.
I found Jim to be most knowledgeable as well as approachable and I am now the proud owner of website I might never otherwise have had. My new business has benefited from a most professional service and the website has turned out to be one of my main sources of new clients. In the fist three months of getting the site up and running it had already paid for itself.
Feedback about my site from friends or clients is always the same: ëvery professional.í Only this evening a client commented that she had chosen to come to me for hypnotherapy as a result of a web search and that she had selected me over other therapists in the area because of the fantastic website which she described as, ëVery clear and easy to navigate as well as calming on the eyeí, which was just what I had asked Jim to produce.
I would recommend Jimís services to anyone who is considering investing in a website. Jim has a professional, patient manner and takes care to listen and act on his clientís requirements.
Karen Campbell Clinical Hypnotherapist
Jim devised, set up and, until recently, maintained the web-site for our project, Teachability. The project was all about accessibility and so we had to get the web design right! Jim did a great job for us. We were particularly impressed by how quickly he responded to our requests for help when anything went wrong, as they do periodically. At a time when the idea of accessible web design was in its infancy, Jim’s help was indispensable.
Anne Simpson StrathClyde University Teachability Project.
As an organisation run by disabled people, for disabled people, LCIL needed a website which was fully accessible and capable of easy update by multiple editors with a wide range (and often lack) of web skills. The QnECMS system from Jim Byrne did all that we required. Jim’s understanding of access issues was of particular value and helped us to debate this with in the organisation. At our earliest meeetings Jim referred to ensuring that “the Web should not be the Inaccessible Housing of the future” this idea has informed much of the design of our site. This means we have a site which is accessible to most people this makes sense both in terms of our philosophy but also in terms as reaching a bigger market.
On a practical level Jim’s support was fast, personal, reliable and effective, this contrasts strongly with other Internet and e-mail providers we deal with. This has been the case from the inception of the site through various changes to the current time. LCIL looks forward to continuing our working relationship with Jim as the internet increasingly becomes a means of communication with all parts of society
Gareth Timms and Eddie Patterson, Lothian Centre for Integrated Living.
I work for Glasgow Association for Mental Health as the Information Manager. Last year GAMH received money to develop an online database. Our old database was on an Apple Mac computer and could only be accessed and edited via one computer. This meant that if more than one volunteer wanted to do updating it was not possible and everyone in our organisation had to phone centrally when ARC was open on a Tuesday and Friday. Other times no one could get access.
After receiving a grant from Lloyds TSB we discussed our needs with Jim and the finance available. At the meeting were service users and Jim is very good at explaining technical computer language to lay people. The database was to be online, the positive solution of the software behind the database means there are no extra software costs, or updating this on all the machines using the database.
A simple system of editing was devised that can be done by volunteer staff who have basic IT skills , i.e. below ECDL.A number of the staff are older and have mental health problems and can operate the system .A track of who is editing is also able to be monitored.
It is easier to search than the previous database. In addition because Jim produced it I can be sure that accessibility has been checked.
It now has widened access to the computer its online so can be searched 24/7 and there can be 2 or 3 volunteers at a time doing the updating. We were able to introduce virtual volunteers who want to take the work away and do it in their own time at home. In addition some of the volunteers take the work away and do it in the library on the free online access when it suits them.
Overall I found Jim to explain the technical language to you level. You may know what you want; he can tell you whatís possible within your resources. He will also point out any problems with what you are planning. I feel he designed an online database to our specifications within the resources and time frames. I would highly recommend his work.
Marie Burns Information Manager, Glasgow Association for Mental Health
Jim is a very good professional. The information was well projected to our audience in a clear and informative manner. His skill level is very high and I would definitely recommend him.
Dale Wright Business Analyst / Web Team Leader Copeland Council
I’m writing to thank you for all the improvements you have recently made to my company’s website.
My existing site, though visually pleasing, was proving difficult for potential clients to find. After visiting me to listen to my problems and frustrations, you were able to offer a practical solution and helpful advice, in plain English. The work you carried out was done quickly, professionally, and in line with my specified requirements. Any changes I suggested to you were carried out immediately, and you always returned my calls – something which is a matter of importance to me.
Since the work was completed, I have spent many hours searching for my site, using various phrases and key words. Thanks to you, the improvements have been substantial; Acanthus now appears far higher in the listings of search hits than it ever did before.
Thank you very much for an excellent job. I will be delighted to recommend your services to anyone who needs help in website design and development.
Robert Corrigan, Acanthus
Testimonials received for work with the Making Connections Unit.
As a charitable trust, Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland wanted to launch a website that was accessible to all potential applicants – including the visually impaired. The Making Connections Unit listened carefully to our objectives and was instrumental in getting our specially designed website up-and-running. We were impressed by the expertise and professionalism demonstrated by the Making Connections Unit and this is reflected in the fact that our website has been extremely well received to date.
Loyds TSB Foundation Scotland
The time that was available to do this was very short, but it looked so good on the day and everyone is really pleased with it. It was a brilliant job done in really short space of time.
Thanks from all the staff at SCLD
Development of W.A.G.E. on-line would not have taken place without the support and input from our partner organisations, including the Making Connections Unit (MCU). Jim Byrne from MCU was a member of the original planning and advisory group, which was successful in accessing development funding for the W.A.G.E. project and he has continued to provide valuable on-going support and advice to project staff and volunteers.
Working Abilities in Glasgow Explored project (W.A.G.E.)