Design a website that is accessible for those with disabilities | February 2015

Accessible websites Sunshine Coast QLD Australia

Shopping cart design for the Sunshine Coast

In the rush to get a website uploaded and out to the masses, there are times when corners are cut and testing skipped. That may well have been what happened with the Coles website, as the company is now being sued for not making the site accessible to those with disabilities. The lawsuit was brought forward by a blind woman who was unable to access the info on the site. The accessibility testing that IT people normally do is not difficult, and usually ensures that all the bases are covered when it comes to site functionality and accessibility.

• Technology exists that allows vision impaired people to “view” websites

Most people with sight are probably unaware that technology exists that allows vision impaired people to “view” websites. This is done by screen readers that reads the text on the page aloud, whilst also describing images in vary degrees of detail. In order for that to happen, web designers need to attach a text description to each image on the page. The text is not visible to the naked eye, but can be seen by the text readers.

• Law regarding website accessibility

The law regarding website accessibility was put in place back in 2000 when a blind user sued the Sydney Olympics Organizing Committee after being unable to properly access the site. That was the last such successful suit of its kind in Australia, but there have been some big wins in the US, UK, and Canada. The Disability Discrimination Act is in place to protect those who feel that they have been discriminated against by a specific site, but it’s a case that is tough to win. More from the future of web design (from 2007).

• Website accessible to screen readers - easy!

Sites like YouTube are tough to make accessible due to the amount of new content being constantly uploaded. The costs there are prohibitive for the site owner, but that is not the case for retailers like Coles, as they would not have to spend a great deal of money to add and test a small piece of script that would make their entire site accessible to screen readers. Taking the time to do this creates a win/win scenario, as the business is able to reach the ever-growing number of people with disabilities now using the internet to shop, while the user gets access to a great number of stores and services without having to leave home. Easy to navigate web design Sunshine Coast QLD

Neil Parker

• A website that everyone can access

If you are thinking of starting a website where you sell products, you owe it to yourself to have a professional design team put together a website that everyone can access. It is believed that about 10% of Australians have some sort of vision problems, which means that potentially 2 million people would be left unable to “see” what your site has to offer where that small snippet of code not added. Not only are you basically turning away customers that may well want to spend money at your site, you are also running the risk of having a lawsuit for discrimination slapped against your business. Talk to your website designer about accessibility, and make sure that the site is designed in a way that everyone can see.

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