Scribe Academy recently welcomed web accessibility expert Mark Tomkins, Founder & Creative Director of Aubergine. Mark is also the author of the NALC Website Accessibility Handbook and gave us valuable insight into some common web accessibility fail points and tips on how to improve.
Firstly, when was web accessibility introduced for local councils and why is it important?
From September 2020, all Parish & Town Councils are required to comply with web accessibility regulations - WCAG2.1AA. 1 in 5 people have a situation or disability that makes it difficult for them to access information online. It is essential that Parish & Town Councils take steps to make their website accessible so information is available to all members of the community.
Accessibility isn’t just about the technical side of things, it’s making sure that content, information and language used all plays a part in reducing these accessibility barriers. Let's take a look at some of the common fail points and Mark’s top tips on resolving these.
These are usually in the form of small icons on a webpage and once clicked will adjust the font, sizes and colours of content. These are not WCAG2.1AA compliant. If this is something you have - you should consider changing this…
These do not provide easy navigation as the columns and rows but these rely on sight. Where possible, tables should be limited to numerical data only. Bullet points can be used for figurative data (e.g. for the formatting of minutes and agendas) and even better if you can use bullets for numerical data too.
The best way to achieve this is to create the document from a source that has a built-in accessibility checker, for example, Microsoft Word. Using the Review tab in software such a Word will allow you to run an accessibility check and provide you with details of how to fix any issues. Once fully accessible, you can save the document to a PDF - and you have an accessible PDF that can be added to your website.
✏️Document File Names
Follow the process of Who, What, When (e.g. Scribe Parish Council, Minutes, April 2022). When the document is come across by any user, it is very clear what the document is about and helps to reduce the accessibility barrier.
❌Page Content Formatting
Headings should not be chosen based on how they look, but on the number to provide content sequence and page navigation. H1 should only ever be used once - this is your main heading/title.
Avoid small text and formatting such a bold and underline. Underline can be particularly misleading for those who struggle to access information online as it suggests to them a link is available. Text smaller than 14px will be a bit too small.
Also avoid coloured text where possible and consider contrast. Where colours are used, go for those that are strong against white (such as black and grey - no reds or pastel colours).
Websites that have been coded with web accessibility at heart will also provide users the option to adjust size and contrast further to their own needs.
⏯️Missed the event or want a replay?
For more tips, you can watch Mark’s talk on web accessibility.
You can also download a copy of the web accessibility slides (PDF, 794 KB).