The UK Government recently published a report detailing the findings of a study that explored website accessibility standards on several UK sites managed mostly by large public sector organisations in the health and public service sector as well as government agencies.

Research showed that there were accessibility issues on the overwhelming majority of websites analysed, and that just 59% of them managed to fix the issues within a 12 week period. The main issues found are lack of visible focus, which affects keyboard users, low colour contrast, which affects visually impaired users, and parsing issues, that affects users of assistive technology. PDFs are generally less accessible than web pages, and often do not contain information that helps assistive technology interpret the content.

What we found particularly interesting about this report, is that the Government’s accessibility audit reports were met with mixed reactions by organisations who recieved them. Some organisations welcomed this new information and were grateful for the starting point, but a minority (20%) were less willing and cooperative, even so far as ignoring emails. We feel that this is largely reflective of the perception of digital accessibility in the UK workforce, exacerbated by the ongoing stress of the pandemic which has simultaneously perpetuated a rising in awareness of accessibility in the workplace (particularly for people who are vulnerable and are advised to work from home), and at the same time, highlighted businesses and organisations who argue they are restrained when it comes to financial resources to adapt to such changes. However, the majority of organisations benefitted from the government’s audit and found them to be useful.

This report was published in line with The National Disability Strategy, which sets out the government’s plan to improve the everyday lives of disabled people by navigating various inequalities disabled people still face in society.

In our line of expertise, we often find that the perception of accessibility audits is that they are a burden on organisations when it comes to time and resources, however the issues highlighted through accessibility audits are valuable not only to addressing the needs of users, but also businesses themselves. Disabled consumers (43 million in the UK alone), are not only more likely to trust an organisation that considers their needs, but website accessibility also allows businesses to reap the rewards of higher SEO’s, connect with a wider audience base and improve PR value.

Direct Access can guide businesses to achieving website accessibility in accordance with relevant and up to date legislation, including the National Disability Strategy and WCAG 2.1 web standards. For more information regarding our access and communication services, click the button below or feel free to contact us. We are here to help. Because for us, access is personal.

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