Your website needs to be accessible to everyone, including users with disabilities, so that as many users as possible can benefit from the content on your website.
The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for a website provider to discriminate against a disabled person by not providing them with access to services which it provides to other members of the public.
There a number of measures you can take to help ensure your website is accessible.
- include alt (alternative) text for all images that you use.
- use heading styles (eg H1, H2) for page titles, headings and sub-headings.
- use a hierarchy of headings, eg always use H1 before you use H2.
- use clear, short and descriptive titles for page titles, headings, and link titles.
- include file types and sizes in download links, eg 'PDF, 45Kb'. Documents should be in an accessible and open format where possible (eg ODT, ODS, PDF-A)
- not use justified alignment. It can make text difficult for dyslexic users to read as it creates ribbons of whitespace. Left alignment is best.
- ensure that any tables in your web pages and download files are accessible.
- ensure the basic design follows design principles that reflect the needs of as many of your users as possible
- offer the user flexibility and choice about features such as font size and colour schemes
- avoid using animation and complex graphics offer a text-only version of the site if it is impossible to make the existing one sufficiently accessible.
- avoid placing barriers in the way of non-academic users, for example by requiring academic user registration or restricting access.
- Maintain a clean, well designed home page.
- Include a clear navigational menu.
- Include a sitemap, and keep it up-to-date.
- Provide a search facility, including adequate help and explanation of errors.
- Provide a 'contact' or 'feedback' link on all pages – include telephone numbers.
- ensure that your website works across all common web browsers (eg Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari)
- ensure that your website is usable and accessible on all devices, including smartphones and tablets
- have a standard page template for your site – this will help ensure the look and feel is consistent across all pages
- be consistent with the copy on your site – it may be helpful to produce a style guide to help content providers write consistently.
- use breadcrumb navigation – for example 'You are here: Home: News: Press releases', so that users know where they are in the site hierarchy.
- be consistent with navigational aids throughout the site.
- use descriptive link text, and avoid using titles like 'click here'.
- add access keys (keyboard shortcuts which activate links) to at least the major navigational links on your site.
- make sure that email addresses are live 'mailto:' links.
- ensure the main site logo on each page is a link back to the home page (and ensure that the logo appears on each page on the site)
- give pages proper titles – this is the text that appears in the title bar of graphical browsers.
- make colours contrast well with each other
- provide a warning that your visitor is about to leave the site when you use external links
- ensure that link names and page names match where appropriate
- avoid the use of pop-up windows for additional content and links
- rely on colour to convey meaning – some visitors to your site may be colour-blind. For example, links should be not only a different colour, but should also have some other kind of visual indicator (eg bold or underlined when you hover over them).
- use bold or italic text excessively.
- use graphics-as-text (images which show text).
- use frames and tables for your page designs; they often provide poor accessibility.