Opening the digital doors currently closed to people with disability

Too many organisations are leaving their digital doors closed to online customers with a range of disabilities, according to a new review.

A review of Australia’s most-used government and non-media commercial websites reveals widespread shortcomings in online accessibility.

Conducted by U1 Group, a consultancy specialising in online user experience and accessibility, the review checked each website against a list of 10 key criteria. The results demonstrated government websites currently outperform those from the commercial world considerably.

However, was the only website out of the 10 most-used government sites to score 10/10, with all other government websites assessed scoring between seven and nine out of 10.

When it came to commercial organisations, none of the top 10 most-used websites received a perfect score, with three sites scoring as low as four out of 10. University website was the top commercial site with nine points, while scored eight.

U1 Managing Director Shefik Bey suggested many people don’t realise that inclusive design helps all web users, not just those with a disability. A readable font size with decent contrast is always going to be well received, particularly by people of a certain age.

“Some people believe that making a website accessible compromises its aesthetic appeal, but that’s a myth,” said Mr. Bey. “Creative elements such as images, diagrams, video and even PDFs are fine to use, provided alternative measures are in place such as alternate text, captions and keyboard operability.”

For organisations committed to improving their web accessibility, the rewards can be abundant. While increasing market reach by considering the many Australians living with disability, they can simultaneously demonstrate a commitment to fairness, increase brand equity and positive social standing, improve search engine rankings and avoid the legal and reputational risks associated with discriminating against somebody with a disability.

U1 Group has developed a suite of online mentoring and training packages to assist businesses in creating accessible websites. More details can be found here.