Is your website legal?

By Matt Williams

Many companies think about advertising standards, copyright, and potentially libellous or corrupting content when considering the law. But there is a law that affects everyone who deals with the public in the UK, which came into force in 1995.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the DDA) makes it unlawful to provide a service that is not accessible to everybody. It is irrelevant whether the service is provided with or without payment. The legislation is clearly applicable to information and services supplied via the internet.

The implications for your organisation of having a website that is accessible to disabled visitors is not just that you are conforming with the law. You will be building a reputation as a company that cares, and delivering your message to a significantly wider audience.

Many people believe that if they make the text on their website suitably large, or that they make it resizable and include text descriptions of the images on their website then they are fulfilling the needs of disabled visitors.

However, this interpretation is demonstrably short of the mark, and leaves many disabled users of the Internet with websites that are often partly or completely inaccessible.

When you realise that disability does not just refer to visual impairment, but actually refers to all forms of disability it is easy to understand that very large numbers of people have their rights compromised by poorly considered, constructed and designed websites.

Take a learning disability like dyslexia for example. The British Dyslexia Association estimates that 4% of the population is severely affected by dyslexia, and 10% of the population 'show some signs' of the condition.

This means that if your website contains long, rambling sentences, jargon, or unclear navigational devices then 10% of your visitors may be deterred or unable to use your website.

Ecru’s solution

At Ecru we have experience of fulfilling the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. We create demonstrably accessible websites whilst achieving exceptional standards of design and brand impact.

This rare combination is fuelled by our content management system that has been built deliberately to allow our clients to maintain accessible website content. We have a four stage approach that is aimed at maximising accessibility:

  • Our content management system is built from the ground up with W3C accessibility priorities as a requirement.
  • On screen help assists your colleagues when they are creating content, advising on the industry accepted techniques for presenting accessible content.
  • We provide an accessibility check as part of a maintenance agreement, meaning that your content is regularly reviewed.
  • We have experts who can review the content that you publish and recommend changes that would assist disabled visitors.

What level of accessibility is appropriate?

The W3C is the primary and most highly regarded standards setting group on the Internet. They have published guidelines that allow you to achieve basic levels of accessibility for your website:

Priority Level A

Basic accessibility, which renders your website usable by many Internet users.

Priority Level AA

Disabled users will generally be able to use your website.

Priority Level AAA

The highest standards of accessibility.

Many observers believe that Level AAA compliance is either unachievable, or compromises other requirements of a corporate web presence such as brand impact and design. Ecru believes that a Level AA website that incorporates a managed additional set of facilities is likely to achieve the best balance.

We agree these additional requirements with you during the specification phase of your website to ensure that the target audience of the website have the greatest possible user experience.

This often involves taking into consideration specific user impairments and incorporating targeted level AAA priority enhancements to further improve the quality of accessibility for those users.

Your questions answered: Web Accessibility FAQ

At Ecru we have experience of fulfilling the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. We create demonstrably accessible websites whilst achieving exceptional standards of design and brand impact.

Matt Williams, Managing Director of Ecru Matt Williams, Managing Director of Ecru

This article was written by Matt Williams, Managing Director of Ecru. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to discuss your next web site project with Matt please call him on 0800 0433 963 or get in touch via our contact form.

Is your website accessible to disabled people? Email us or call us on 0800 0433 963 to discuss how we can help you.