Demystifying Digital Accessibility
I attended a “Demystifying Digital Accessibility” webinar hosted by the Government Digital Service (GDS).
GDS is the government body responsible for monitoring and enforcing the accessibility regulations. They talked to us about what the regulations mean and what you should be doing now.
I know time is precious so let’s see how efficiently I can share the highlights with you...
- The public sector bodies accessibility regulations 2018 is UK law unaffected by Brexit.
- Useful info on making online public services accessible: https://accessibility.campaign.gov.uk/
- GDS test a sample of websites based on the population of the UK, they can't possibly test them all but you just never know if your website is one that will be picked!
What happens if you don't comply?
Legal powers under various acts can be used to take court action against offending organisations.
Content creation tips
The average reading age of the UK is 9 years old. Try to stick to sentence lengths that can be said in 1 breath, approx. 25 words. Advise using no more than 5 lines per paragraph.
Link text - format with underline and colour (ensure sufficient contrast!). Start with a verb if instructing people to do something i.e. apply for a passport.
Colour contrast tool - this is especially useful as you can input code for the text colour, object and page background colour.
Font size - 12 minimum (people can use screen magnification) or 32 for presentations.
Whats the deal with PDFs?
PDFs should be used for printed documents only. They are not responsive and are difficult to read on mobile devices. GDS are trying to move people away from PDF downloads and the option to request an accessible version. It should be presented accessibly initially. A poster designed for printing off is acceptable. Clearly mark PDFs as "Print these resources, stick them on the walls and spread the word". Ideally though, web pages and documents should be published in HTML by default. Also, save docs in an open document format (ODF).
Make all forms of communication accessible
A website is only one channel in which we communicate with our audience. Keep in mind that we also need to consider making other forms of communication accessible. Social media and webinars for example, we need to be mindful of the readability of their content.
Podcasts - you must publish a transcript of the content using HTML.
Social media - limit links to 1 per social post. Alt text is a feature to most now, use it. Familiarise yourself with social media accessibility features. Don't rely on imagery alone i.e. a picture of a quote must also have the quote written by it.
I hope you've found even just one of these points helpful. Although the mobile applications accessibility deadline passed us by in June 2021, it is important we continue to move beyond what’s required by law and understand best practice advice in order to create content and platforms that are inclusive for all.
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