Practical plans for accessible architectures

The United Nations recently commissioned the world’s first global audit on web accessibility. The study evaluated 100 websites from 20 different countries across five sectors of industry (media, finance, travel, politics, and retail). Only three sites passed basic accessibility checkpoints outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0), and not a single site passed all checkpoints.These guidelines are well established and were first advocated by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1999. They simplify the knowledge required to produce accessible code and content. Despite developments in assistive technologies and web content, these guidelines are still invaluable today. They provide developers and editors with a foundation for creating accessible design, which is essential to people who have different access requirements. A second version of the WCAG is now available as a public working draft (WCAG 2.0). Nevertheless, a challenge remains in determining which members of the design team are responsible for accessibility. As more people are involved in the design, development, and editorial process, there needs to be agreement on how to best design for content management and customisation, while also allowing for greater accessibility.

Accessible design requires a deeper understanding of context. It’s about providing alternative routes to information, whether that route is a different sense (seeing or hearing), a different mode, (using a tab key or a mouse), or a different journey (using an A to Z site index instead of main navigation). However, accessibility is much easier to achieve when the right foundations are put in place as prerequisites during site planning and strategy. Read the rest of this article on the Boxes and Arrows website.