An article on the BBC website states a shocking statistic that 97% of website’s tested by website Accessibility Agency “Nomensa” are failing the disabled:
In the UK, the websites looked at included Marks & Spencer, Lloyds TSB, British Airways and The Guardian. The BBC’s website was not included in the survey.
The British Prime Minster’s sites alongside the Spanish government site and the German Chancellor’s site were the only three to conform to the most basic standards.
In order to reach the minimum standards – tested against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – websites needed to provide adequate text descriptions for graphical content so that visually impaired people could ‘read’ pictures. 93% of the websites failed to meet those guidelines.
Ninety eight percent did not follow industry web standards for programming code, meaning the foundations for web accessibility simply were not there.
In this day and age that’s a shocking statistic. Especially with new Accessibility Laws that cover access to websites. However, it’s not as easy to make a “truly” accessibile website that looks good and still functions well as these testing groups think.
Often small changes can make a huge difference, such as using ALT tags on images, TITLE tags on links and sensibly naming (and labeling) form fields can help.
The problem is that most online accessibility checkers such as “Bobby” (now rebranded to WebXACT) simply read through the code, they don’t (and can’t) interact with your webpages as a real person would.
Running WebXACT on this site throws up a few errors, which I was expecting, but then again running the same check on the Nomensa website also throws up a few areas of “concern”, but amusingly enough, using the same tool the BBC news website fails Priority 2 and 3 checks – and they’re heralded as one of the most accessible sites on the web!
Part of the problem lies in the use of Content Management Systems to create and edit content. Having written one myself to run this blog (had to get that in – I’m such a big head), I know how difficult it is to produce valid content that is cross-browser compitible and doesn’t throw up CSS/HTML errors.
So, how can we improve our website accessibility? That’s certainly a question I’d like to know the answer to! I know for a fact that you shouldn’t rely on these online checkers, but does anyone out there know any other good tools or is it simply a case of waiting until someone contacts me to make a complaint or suggestion.
What do you guys think? I know we should be ignoring a high percentage of Internet users, so how can we make it better for them without making it more difficult for us?