Web Design

Web accessibility: why every website needs it

Chloe Toogood
10th November 2022
4 minute read

When creating a website, one of the most important things you can do is make it accessible.

What we mean by this is a website that caters to the needs of everyone, not just able-bodied people. Web accessibility is just as important as physical accessibility, think the inclusion of ramps instead of or alongside stairs up to a building. Every website needs to be accessible, and we’re going to look at what it is, what content needs to be accessible, and how to make sure your site is within the guidelines.


What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility is the principle of including certain features and designs that make sure people with disabilities and limitations can receive the same user experience as those without disabilities. It ensures that there is equality for all types of people using your site, giving them all the content that they need, in a way that makes it easier for them to access. Web accessibility isn’t beneficial just for disabled people however, as even able-bodied people can benefit from accessible features. Things like a bad internet connection, and noisy surrounding environments can be are just a few examples of issues that could happen, and could be helped by accessible content.

There is no choice to make a website accessible or not, as in the UK websites have to be accessible by law, and that’s in both the public and private sector. The UK follows the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) which sets the standard for web accessibility across the board.

What content needs to be accessible?

When creating content for your website, the following things should be taken into account to make sure that you are following the WCAG guidelines:


  • Alternative text: this is for images and non-written content. Alternative text allows for the content to be delivered to the site visitor through a screen reader, but it can also help search engines better understand your content.
  • Videos and audio: they should always have a text alternative for when there are limitations on hearing.
  • Readability: make sure that any fonts used are legible, and arrange webpages in different sections with headings to ensure that visitors to the site can skim through content if they need to.
  • Seizure triggers: for people with photosensitive epilepsy flashing and/or blinking lights can trigger a seizure so do not use content that flashes.
  • Keyboard navigation: every piece of functionality that is on the website should be accessible via the keyboard just as it is accessible with the mouse.
  • Colour and contrast: the colours used should not signify a meaning alone, and should be paired with a text alternative if they are symbolic of anything. The colour contrast ratio should be suitable for those with vision impairments.


There are actually thirteen guidelines in total that need to be followed when it comes to web accessibility, with each guideline being broken down even further and in more detail. When we look at this provider of ADHD services in Newcastle, we can see how they have an accessibility button to the right-hand side, which allows the user to change various piece of content, like the text size, the colour scheme, and the colour contrast.

How to make your site accessible

Web accessibility is centred around four main principles, which help to ensure that your website fulfils the guidelines set out in the WCAG. These principles are:

  • Perceivable: visitors to your site must be able to understand and perceive the content that they are presented with through the use of their senses of hearing, sight, and occasionally touch. For example, those who are blind or visually impaired may make use of a screen reader so they can consume the content through synthesized speech.
  • Operable: a website that is operable is one that can be used without disrupting the user experience, and where visitors can easily use all pieces of functionality with the controls that they normally use. This could range anywhere from clicking on menu links, to playing audio or videos. Excess functionality can be hard to make accessible for visitors to the site, so it is typically easier for users to navigate a site that is simpler and more straightforward.
  • Understandable: it goes without saying that the content on your site should be easily understandable. This goes for all content, written and visual, as it can be hard for impaired users and non-impaired users alike to navigate a website when interfaces can be cluttered or confusing. If we take another look at the provider for adult ADHD services in Newcastle, we can see how much space there is on the page which ensures that it is not too overwhelming for those visiting the website.
  • Robust: your website should function well across all browsers and platforms. In addition, it should be easy for the content to be interpreted by assistive technology, like screen readers. The robustness of a website mainly comes down to how the HTML has been written, and it should be written in a way that these assistive technologies can read through the code without other references.

The best ways to comply with these principles are to conduct accessibility audits, which will help to flag up any violations of the WCAG guidelines, to run regular accessibility checks to ensure that your site is never slacking when it comes to providing accessible content, and to design accessible content from the get go, and not just add it on later as an afterthought.


What is the takeaway?

It is so important to make sure that your website is accessible for everyone who goes to visit it. The WCAG sets out a number of significant guidelines to ensure that these accessibility standards are met, and which are legally required in the UK to make sure that everyone has an equal experience as possible when navigating websites. As there are a broad range of disabilities and impairments, the guidelines set out have to try and cover as many as possible, ranging from physical to cognitive.

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