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Understanding Website Accessibility in the UK

Website accessibility is not just on compliance; it is also about fostering inclusivity and adhering to legal mandates. In this article I explore the legal facets and basic principles that underscore website accessibility in the UK.

1. The Importance of Web Accessibility:

Making your website accessible is more than just a checkbox exercise. An accessible, usable site is a gateway to diverse audiences, enhanced user experiences, and legal compliance. Statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that about 22% of the UK population reported having a disability in 2021. Taking heed of inclusivity is not just an ethical issue, it also ensures your content is available to the widest possible audience.

Statistics on Disability in the UK:

  • The ONS indicates that mobility issues affected approximately 11% of the UK population in 2021.
  • With disability prevalence increasing with age, it’s essential to cater to the diverse needs of the population.
  • The UK government’s “Family Resources Survey” reported that in 2019/20, approximately 8.3% of adults in the UK reported using some form of assistive technology.
  • A report by the “Click-Away Pound” survey estimates that in the UK, online retailers lose approximately £17.1 billion a year due to the barriers faced by disabled online shoppers.

2. Legal Implications of Non-Compliance in the UK:

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 places a legal duty on service providers to make reasonable adjustments to ensure their digital services are accessible. Non-compliance not only invites legal repercussions but potentially puts up barriers to a significant portion of your audience. Accessibility is not just an option; it’s an ethical and legal necessity.

And if you don’t get it right the danger is that you will tarnish your reputation and your brand. The last thing you need is to find that a disabled person, backed up by the expertise of an organisation such as the RNIB, threatening to take you to court because your website was found to be inaccessible.

3. Key Principles of Accessibility (WCAG) and UK Standards:

To craft an inclusive digital space, the UK government looks to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines, backed by the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018 (for public secor organisations and those recieving funding from the public sector), set the standard for accessibility. Embracing these principles ensures websites align not only with best practices but also with specific UK regulations.

Website accessibility isn’t just about ticking boxes, it’s about embracing diversity, it’s about your legal obligations and it’s about looking after your brand. The last thing you want is to be outed as an organisation that does not take its equality obligations seriously. Instead, you can be proactive by being a champion of accessibility and at the same time connect with a broader audience.

Get in touch if you need help ensuing your digital content is legally compliant and is accessible to your widest possible audience.

Take my Web Accessibility Online Training Course - WCAG 2.1 Compliance

Learn to design and manage WCAG compliant, accessible websites with my online course

You will learn both the techniques of accessible website design and an entire ‘framework for thinking about the subject’. It will equip you with the skills to understand, identify and fix issues any accessibility issues you come across. Watch the free videos to get a taste of what is on the course. Video image from Web Accessibility Online Training Course - WCAG 2.1 Compliance

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