Accessibility

This website, like all those designed by User Experience Design, has been designed to be accessible.

Access Keys For This Site

Most browsers support 'access keys' to let you navigate using the keyboard. This website has implemented the following access keys:

Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer Microsoft Windows using Firefox Apple Macintosh Feature
ALT+1 SHIFT+ALT+1 CTRL+1 Home page
ALT+2 SHIFT+ALT+2 CTRL+2 Skip to main content
ALT+9 SHIFT+ALT+9 CTRL+9 Email Feedback
ALT+0 SHIFT+ALT+0 CTRL+0 Accessibility Statement

Numbers shown in brackets on this website act as a reminder about these access keys, eg. '(1)' is a reminder that 'Alt + 1' goes to the home page (with Internet Explorer on Windows).

The access keys selected for this site are based on those prescribed by the UK government and used by organisations like the BBC. Changes in recent browsers like IE7 and Firefox 2 mean that numeric 'access keys' now work better than alphabetic, so these have been adopted here.

Universal Design (and it is good for business!)

Most modern buildings have a ramp, in addition to steps, to ensure they are universally accessible and nobody is needlessly excluded because of a disability. The same should be true of websites but instead of the ramp, various small design considerations are needed to ensure universal access.

In 2006, Nomensa studied websites of the FTSE 100 companies and found 75% of them fail to meet minimum requirements for website accessibility. They are, it claimed, exposed to legal action for ignoring the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and exclude 80 billion in revenue by excluding disabled customers. Making your website accessible seems more than a 'nice to have' !

Accessible Design Features of This Website

Accessible features of User Experience Design websites include:

  • A fluid design layout is used throughout and font sizes are not fixed - this allows the user to increase the font size with their browser settings;
  • A Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) handles the visual layout of the webpage so if your browser does not use stylesheets, all the content is still readable;
  • Access keys supports primary navigation so that a mouse is not required;
  • A Search facility is available on every page;
  • 'Skip navigation' allows the user to jump over navigation and to directly to the page content (sometimes useful if you are using a screen reading device like JAWS), (Technical point: the implementation of this now uses an 'offleft' approach rather than 'display:none', since the later defeats screen reading devices - see this Nomensa article on skip links);

You can find out much more about website accessibity from a great website called www.diveintoaccessibility.org.

Validation and Accreditation

One aspect of accessibility concerns making sure the website code is correct. The code behind this website is valid XHTML 1.0 and uses a validated Cascading Style Sheet (version 2.0). The accessibility of this site has been verified through the use of the Webxact tool (formerly Bobby) and gained a 'AAA' rating, as well as a regulation 508 rating. It is also believed to conform to Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) standards at level 3 but there is currently no automated tool to test this.

Cross Browser Compatibility

There are ALL KINDS of incompatibilities between browsers like Internet Explorer 5.5, 6, 7, Firefox and many more. By ensuring XHTML and CSS validates, problems of compatibility are reduced. Sadly though, they are not eliminated and indeed, are often very tricky to sort out. It is necessary to carefully check whether a website design works appropriately on different browsers. Thankfully a new tool called browsershots allows this to be checked quite easily.

Take a look at this website on several different browsers using browsershots if you like.

Accessibility - continually learning to do better

Understanding how to make websites more accessible to everyone is a continual learning experience. If you notice accessibility issues with websites made by User Experience Design, please let us know.