Just like a structurally solid house, your accessible website is a much better product, usable by anyone, anywhere on any device, which brings you more influence, sales and everything you want your web presence to be. It should be a valuable investment for years to come.

If it’s that important, why would you relegate accessibility verification to the end of your web build? That’s like checking your foundations after building the house. Pretty dumb, huh?

House held together with band aidsWhat will you do if there are freaky cracks? Pull it down and rebuild it? Band aid it? What a stupid waste of time and money.

As an accessibility consultant I’ve seen it all. I’ve reviewed countless websites and apps as a final check before go-live. These checks always uncovered fundamental flaws that demanded considerable rework, requiring additional time and money, and launch delays.

My advice? Save a fortune by building in accessibility from day one, alongside quality code, thoughtful design and logical UX… and check it as you go, not at the end.

So how can you make sure your new website is accessible from the get-go? Here are some tips:

  1. 1. Add accessibility to your requirements. Insist that the website must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (ISO/IEC 40500). WCAG is an international web standard published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
  2. 2. Choose a suitably skilled supplier who will back their work with a WCAG 2 level AA compliance guarantee. That supplier will have confidence in their in-house expertise, or will engage an independent accessibility specialist for staged validation.
  3. 3. Unless yours is a static website, use a Content Management System (CMS) that supports accessible articles, fact sheets, products and other content that you’ll add over time.
  4. 4. Insist on accessibility verification (WCAG 2 AA compliance) before acceptance.

Finally, make sure your authors are skilled in writing accessible content, as this is where accessibility of many websites becomes compromised. Here are some tips:

  • Use heading mark up (h1-6) for headings, and only headings
  • Use list, links and table markup correctly to retain structural integrity
  • Add alternative (alt) text to informative images
  • Hide decorative images from assistive technologies
  • Hyperlink text that explains link purpose, rather than ‘click here’, ‘read more’ or other generic labels
  • Avoid images of text where possible. Otherwise ensure sufficient contrast between adjacent colours and provide equivalent alt text for people with impaired vision
  • Add media alternatives for people who can’t see or hear video or audio.
  • Run an automated accessibility check before publication to flag common issues.

Further reading