Note: this is a page about Accessibility on the web in general. This website's Accessibility Statement can be found here.
An important responsibility of being a website programmer or owner is to ensure as far as possible that your website is "accessible", meaning it can be understood by people with disabilities.
A decade or more ago webmasters would add a button to their website which made the font size larger and think they'd done their bit, but there is much more to accessibility than that.
Visitors to your site will have a wide range of disabilities which you should try to take into account. If you host audio files on your site you need to consider deaf people for instance. If you are likely to have users with learning disabilities, you need to consider writing your content in as understandable a way as possible.
Making your site accessible is a partnership between a number of different people, not just you and Spanglefish.
For instance, the people who program browsers have (over the years) spent a lot of effort giving disabled users tools to assist them. Nowadays, if you press the Control key (Ctrl) and the + sign on your keyboard the text size in your browser will increase.
Operating system designers like Microsoft and Apple, along with other companies built screen readers which can read the content of pages out to users.
From Spanglefish's point of view, our main responsibility has become making sure that we don't build anything into the code of the site which hampers the tools created by browser manufacturers or people who build screen readers etc. We try to ensure that the code behind your website is clean and conforms to web standards.
We won't always get this right! Feel free to let us know when we don't and we'll do our best to sort things.
Your responsibility is to always consider the needs of your users when adding and editing content on your site.
- Does using lots of different coloured text, different fonts and font sizes in a paragraph of text make it more difficult for some people to read?
- If I add an image to a page, do I need to add an ALT description to it describing the image for blind people using screen readers?
- If I link to an audio file, do I need to provide a written transcript of what is said in the file for deaf people?
- Has the PDF file I'm about to upload to the site been created in an accessible way?
These are just examples, and by no means an exhaustive list. And the truth is there is no way to make any website 'perfectly accessible'. If (for instance) you have a collection of PDF files made 10 years ago with lots and lots of information in them but no way to recreate them in an accessible way, you don't have to remove them from your site. Consider if perhaps you can add summaries of what is in them to the page, or offer an email address that someone who can't read them can make enquiries of instead.
The current web standard for accessibility is WCAG 2.1. It is a long and dry read. You might have been told that your website must comply with WCAG 2.1 - this is the wrong way to think of it. WCAG itself is a set of guidelines and recommendations, not requirements.
Different countries have different laws with respect to accessibility. You should research those which apply to you and your website. Many will refer to WCAG without making it illegal to not comply.
The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018
In the UK new regulations have come into force about accessibility on websites belonging to 'public sector bodies'. Spanglefish hosts a large number of websites which fall under the new rules, especially parish and community council websites.
Note that schools and charities are NOT included under these regulations, although of course you should still try to make your site as accessible as possible.