Written by Georgia Goncalves from Voluntary Organisations Network North East.
The pandemic forced the world to go digital in a way that had never been seen before, and with this there's been a huge focus on the digital divide. Digital exclusion happens in a variety of ways and affects everyone differently. Making your website more accessible is one place to start.
1 – Font size
Font size should be at a minimum of 16px. This helps improve readability and makes your written content clear. You can go bigger than 16px and it is recommended to use larger font sizes for different elements, such as titles or subheadings, to make it clear to the reader where their attention needs to be focused first. This one is a quick and easy win to help make your website more user friendly, and font guidelines are available from W3-Lab.
2 – Borrow a nine-year-old
It’s important that everyone is able to understand the content you put on your website, otherwise it isn’t inclusive. Most guides tell you to use language which is ‘clear and easy to understand’ and the way you can test this is by borrowing a friend’s nine-year-old – or use yours if you have one. Ask them to read the content on your website to see if they can understand it. Anything they have difficulty reading or understanding should be simplified to make your website more accessible. The average reading age in the UK is between nine and 15-years-old, so by asking someone from this age group to test your content you will be able to find out if it's accessible for most people. More on this from the Digital Culture Network, and the Government Digital Service.
3 – Audio and written content
If you have any videos or audio clips, it's useful to provide subtitles or a transcript for people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, so they can enjoy the content too. You can either set some time aside for yourself or one of your colleagues to write the transcript, or you can pay an external service to help with this. If you have a bigger budget, you could include British Sign Language (BSL) translation on videos, which can be more engaging as it allows the user to watch rather than just read.
You should also make sure that any written content can be heard in an audio format. You could either provide an audio clip of someone reading out the written content on the page, or ensure the page is screen-reader friendly.
You can read more about making your website screen-reader friendly at Charity Digital.
4 – No mouse – no problem
Making your web pages keyboard accessible means users can access all elements of your website at the click of a keyboard button, without using a mouse or trackball. Without keyboard access, your website may not be accessible for people that experience motor disabilities or tremors. You can find out more about keyboard accessibility at WebAIM.
5 – User testing with people who have lived experience
The best way to ensure your website is accessible is to ask for help from people with lived experience of disability to test the website. They are best placed to tell you how you can make their user experience better, easier and more accessible. When developing new websites, services or anything else, accessibility needs to be ingrained in the entire process from the beginning, not just something you try to fit in later on. Find out more at W3.org, which also has a full guide covering all the key recommendations for website accessibility.
At VONNE, we know we're not fully there yet, but rest assured we're working to embed greater accessibility across our site and services, and learning lots we can share along the way.
This blog was first published on VONNE on 15/07/21.