Website Legal Requirements 2 – Web Accessibility and the Disability Discrimination Act
The second part of my Website Legal Requirements series, explains how the Disability Discrimination Act affects your website and what your website requires in order to conform.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where member organizations, full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. They have developed a set of standards to ensure websites are built to best and common practices which also ensure people with disabilities can use and operate websites.
They have split the Web Accessibility Guidelines into three “checkpoints”.
- Priority 1: A Web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for some groups to be able to use Web documents.
- Priority 2: A Web content developer should satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to accessing Web documents.
- Priority 3: A Web content developer may address this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it somewhat difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access to Web documents.
The UK Government and the RNIB both advise that your website must satisfy Priority 1 of guidelines and should satisfy Priority 2 guidelines. If the website is built to these guidelines then it allows people with disabilities to be able to use and operate your website. For example, a Screen Reader could be used to read out website content to a visually impaired user if the guidelines are followed.
The guidelines are not only for the web developer to take into account when building the site, but also need to be considered if content is added by other users using a content manager. For example, images added to the site should have the ALT attribute added to provide alternate text that a screen reader can read out. This is an example of one of the guidelines and with a content manager can easily be overlooked by the website administrator.
If you want to ensure your website conforms then contact your web developer for more information.
How Does This Affect My Website?
Your website should confirm to at least Priority 1 of the W3C Guidelines (or at least show that you have done all you can to adhere to it).