Early October, we celebrated Accessibility Week (Week van de toegankelijkheid, website in Dutch) here in the Netherlands. For this occasion, the Dutch Human Rights Board (College voor de Rechten van de Mens, website in Dutch) invited the Dutch Accessibility Foundation to test several websites. How easily accessible are online stores, travel organisations and websites of utility companies for someone who is blind or someone who isn’t able to use a mouse to navigate a website? Is a blind person actually able to purchase a robot vacuum cleaner at Coolblue to clean up the hairs of their guide dog?
The results were disappointing. Moreover, they don’t even seem to have improved over the past two years. Which is quite remarkable, to say the least. (The test report: “Your shopping cart is empty” / “Uw winkelmandje is leeg”, website in Dutch)
20% of all people benefit from a digitally accessible website. That’s like stretching your target market with another 20%! All real people who, despite of all your efforts to rank high in search engine results, potentially leave your site disappointed because it’s hard or even impossible for them to use it. There is a lot to be gained here.
From past experience, we know that users with restrictions typically won’t file complaints. They simply give up and go elsewhere.
What is digital accessibility?
A website, or application, needs to be accessible to as many people as possible. No matter the device they use. That could, for instance, be a desktop computer, an iPad or a smartphone, but also a device that uses assistive technology like a screen reader or speech operated software. Additionally, some people are restricted to using a keyboard instead of a mouse or a touch screen to navigate your site.
And accommodating everyone is well possible, as long as a website has been designed and developed by a well trained team.
As a result, your website features:
- A crystal clear structure, with navigation that is easy to understand, and pages that support scanning;
- A well thought out design, with ample contrast and a color scheme that is easy on the eyes of all users;
- Meaningful, solid & sustainable code;
- Clearly structured and easy to understand copy.
How is this arranged by law?
The Netherlands has ratified the VN Convention concerning the rights of persons with a handicap. This convention determines that people with restrictions need to be able to fully participate in society.
Governments, service providers and retailers need to ensure people with restrictions are not restricted from obtaining what they need. Even if they do not explicitly ask for it.
Nobody expects you to have a huge website fixed by tomorrow. A step by step approach is perfectly ok.
So there’s work to be done. Imagine the next report, in about two years, raving about the progress that has been made. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
How can Level Level help?
Unfortunately, existing sites don’t become digitally accessible all by themselves. At Level Level, we help governments and businesses with optimizing the accessibility of their websites. We are one of the few web agencies in The Netherlands whom employ a seasoned accessibility consultant. One that recently became an IAAP Certified Web Accessibility Professional!
We host trainings and workshops for (future) clients, designers, developers and content creators, and needless to say for our team members. Also, during every stage of developing websites, we’ll keep everyone involved attuned to web accessibility.
- performs reviews: how accessible is a website or application;
- provides consultancy: what is the best roadmap to fix accessibility issues;
- hosts trainings and workshops;
- takes care of adjustments, or, if needed, full website reconstruction.
Trainings and workshops
This November, we’ll host three accessibility themed workshops:
- Accessibility 101: for everyone who is involved in conceiving, designing, developing and maintaining websites as well as for everyone who creates and publishes website content;
- Developing accessible websites 101: for web developers;
- Designing accessible websites 101: for designers.
These training sessions currently are only available in Dutch. Please send us a message if you’d like to learn more about future sessions in English.
About the author
Would you like to find out how accessible your website currently is?
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