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Web accessibility: do your sites meet the Standard?

Do you know how accessible your sites are? See the Web Accessibility Standard 1.0 and some tips to help you meet the Standard.

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Have you ever wondered how accessible your web content is to everyone? Simple things like a small font size can restrict people with impaired vision, or a video without subtitles may mean people with hearing loss aren’t able to watch it. This is when the New Zealand Government Web Accessibility Standard comes in handy, making sure content on government sites is accessible to the highest number of New Zealanders.

About the Standard

The New Zealand Government Web Accessibility Standard (the Standard) outlines what is required for web content to be accessible for New Zealanders. By 1 July 2017, this Standard is mandatory for all web pages published by Public Service departments and Non-Public Service departments in the State Services. These organisations must be prepared to assess and report on their conformance with the Standard, and in the case of non-conformance, submit a risk assessment and management plan.  

View Web Accessibility Standard 1.0 and the conformance requirements

Video talk

At a recent SilverStripe Christchurch meetup, Kevin Prince of Christchurch City Council gave a talk on web, mobile and tablet accessibility. Here are some lessons I’ve learnt from his talk that may be useful for you in your attempt to meet the Standard.

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect – Tim Berners-Lee, director of the Word Wide Web, consortium and inventor of the World Wide Web.

  • Think POUR – 4 principles in designing web content:
    • Perceivable: Can users find the content? Let’s say there is a video embedded on a page but the display of the video is so small that people cannot find it.
    • Operable: Once users find the content, can they operate it? If the only way to operate the video is to click on the ‘play’ button using a mouse, what if people don’t have a mouse?
    • Understandable: Do users understand what is going to happen when they action something? Does the ‘contact us’ link going to trigger an email or lead to a contact form page? If the former is the case, maybe you should have written ‘email us’.
    • Robust: Does it run on multiple platforms? Will your video display well on both a desktop and a mobile phone?
  • Think FILTH in creating online documents: Are all these 5 elements working in your documents: Fonts, Images, Links, Tables, Headings?
  • Web accessibility benefits everyone, not just people with permanent impairments and disabilities. For example, anyone can just break a bone and not be able to use the mouse – that’s when you have to think about accessibility.
  • Make use of all the senses when creating content. A movie in a foreign language (sound) may not make sense without subtitles (vision), so think about how you can provide multi-sensory elements to help users access your content better.
  • Other quick tips:
    • MAC users can open Voiceover by pressing Command + F5
    • To test navigation of a site, use TAB, shift-TAB and ESC alone. If you can’t navigate successfully, then it’s likely that your users can’t either
    • Remember to use the built-in accessibility and language checkers in Word

You can learn more about accessibility through Kevin’s video talk below.

About the author
Vinh Nguyen

Marketer at SilverStripe. He is the love child of Marketing and Web Technology.

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