Web accessibility

In a digitalised society, information and services are increasingly available online. We use websites and mobile applications to do our shopping, read the news, request a taxi, or order food delivery, file taxes and even vote.

Web accessibility means a website or web-based service, designed in such a way which is perceivable, operable, and understandable by persons with disabilities, including when using assistive technologies. So, an accessible website or mobile app should be easy to browse, navigate, understand, operate, interact with it, and use safely, securely, independently, and with dignity by a person with a disability

To advance accessibility of websites, mobile applications and digital content, the European Union has developed two important legislations in the past years: the Web Accessibility Directive, and the European Accessibility Act.

There is a European standard on accessibility requirements of ICT products and services (EN 301 549), which includes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WcAG). These guidelines help web developers and editors to achieve web accessibility.

To learn more about web accessibility and how to achieve it, visit the W3C-Web Accessibility Initiative website.

10 Rules to improve Web Accessibility

  1. Add alternative text

    When using non-text elements such as images or multimedia to convey information, always provide text equivalents that convey the same information or functionality so AT users can access relevant information.

    Fill the alt-text field when uploading an image. You can also name the file so as to convey what it is instead of a generic name such as ‘DSC089’

  2. Do not depend on a single sense

    When using non-text elements such as images or multimedia to convey information, always provide text equivalents that convey the same information or functionality so AT users can access relevant information.

    Fill the alt-text field when uploading an image. You can also name the file so as to convey what it is instead of a generic name such as ‘DSC089’

  3. Organise and structure

    Divide the information into separate blocks and use semantic elements (‘paragraph’ ‘heading 1’ ‘heading 2’ in text editors) to mark each block so AT users can identify and navigate the document sections efficiently.

  4. Do not depend on a single sense

    When providing instructions do not rely on colours or other sensory characteristics such as shape, directions, tone, etc.
    Avoid: Sentences like “mandatory field are marked in red” or “press the button on the left side of this text”

  5. Keyboard access 

    Many people cannot use a mouse so it is important to ensure that all contents and functionalities are accessible using a keyboard.

    Avoid: Drop-down menus that can only be opened moving the mouse over them, drag and drop without alternative, etc.

  6. Give users enough time

    People perform tasks and read at different speeds.

    Avoid: Banners that change fast, or processes where the session expires before the user can complete the task in a reasonable time or that create interferences

  7. Do not create content that interferes with access in other parts of the document

    Avoid: Multimedia components that start automatically. If they are audio, they can interfere with the speech synthesis of a screen reader. If a new window is opened without warning, some users might feel disoriented.

  8. Identify hyperlinks and content

    Use short and description texts for headings and to clearly identify the purpose of links; this facilitates navigation and understanding of the structure of the documents and its whole website.

  9. Use consistent Interfaces 

    Use visual design and internal structure consistently to create easier to use interfaces

  10. Help users avoid mistakes

    Minimise user mistakes by providing adequate labels for form fields and informing about any errors in the data entered, and how to correct them.

Test your content on assistive technologies

Use web standards according to the technical specifications, and always test content with AT.