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How to optimise your website for Accessibility

How to optimise your website for Accessibility

Today David Goosem and John King co-presented at Sitecore's Global Virtual SUGCON Conference sharing their knowledge and learnings with the Sitecore community. 2000 attendees tuned into the live event. Below is a summary of what the presentation covered.

Every website owner wants to attract and do business with as many website visitors as possible. However, only a few take the steps necessary to ensure their website is accessible and can be used by everyone.

The web for many people is an essential tool for doing business, learning, shopping and engaging with their world. When considering what your business should do to become compliant W3C WACG 2.1 guidelines is always a good start.

People with disability are three times as likely to avoid an organisation and twice as likely to dissuade others because of an organisation's negative diversity reputation. Australian Human Rights Commission

According to W3C, a disability is any condition that restricts a person's mental, sensory or mobility functions. It may be caused by accident, trauma, genetics or disease. A disability may be temporary or permanent, total or partial, lifelong or acquired, visible or invisible.

Digital inclusion doesn’t quite pull on the heart strings like some other human rights campaigns. Many businesses see it as an expense when really they should see it as an opportunity serve more potential customers. According to the United Nations, accessibility issues affects over 1.5 billion people across the globe who have a disability, as well as plenty more with age-related impairments.

In Australia 575,000 people are blind or have low vision. 50.7% of Australians aged over 65 and over live with a disability. 15% of Australia's population is over 65 and this number is expected to rise by 22% by 2057.

When it comes to accessibility it's all about ensuring inclusive participation and access to information for all people, no matter what their abilities or circumstances.

Need to wrap you head around Accessibility get access to our guide. 

So what can your business do to comply with WCAG 2.1 Guidelines?

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including accommodations for blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these, and some accommodation for learning disabilities and cognitive limitations; but will not address every user need for people with these disabilities.

The industry standard guidelines for web content accessibility are organised around these four principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (or POUR). Below is a quick summary of what these principals entail for accessibility compliance.


Starting at the most basic level, users must be able to process information. Information that is not presented in a processable format is not accessible. Among other affordances, this means providing text for those who cannot hear, and audio for those who cannot see. It does not mean creating audio for all text, but content must be consumable by screen readers and other assistive technologies. Websites and apps that require sight or hearing won’t pass the test of perceivability.

Ask yourself: Is there anything on our website that a blind, deaf, low vision or color blind user would not be able to perceive?


People with disabilities need to be able to operate websites and applications with a variety of tools. Many users with disabilities cannot operate a mouse. Alternatives like keyboard-based operation should be implemented.

To help users with cognitive disabilities operate a website, animations and media should be controllable, and time limits for completing an action should be generous or configurable. Most importantly, sites and apps should be forgiving. All people, not just those with disabilities, make mistakes. Offer second chances, instructions, cancellation options, and warnings to help all users.

Ask yourself: Can all functions of our website be performed with a keyboard? Can users control the interactive elements of our website? Does our website make completing tasks easy?


If users can perceive and operate a website, that doesn’t mean they can understand it. Understandable websites use clear, concise language and offer functionality that is easy to comprehend. If a user takes an action, the connection between the action and the result should be obvious. Navigation should be used consistently across a site. Forms should follow a logical flow and provide clear labels. If a user must go through a process — like a checkout — adequate guidance should be provided. If this feels like usability and not accessibility, that’s because usable websites are inherently more accessible.

Ask yourself: Is all of the text on our website clearly written? Are all of the interactions easy to understand?


Users pick their own mix of technologies. Within limits, websites should work well-enough across platforms, browsers, and devices to account for personal choice and user need. While users cannot expect a website to support Internet Explorer 1.0, sites should not dictate the technology users can use. When sites dictate supported technology platforms, they restrict access for any non-conforming user. One of the best ways to meet the principle of robustness is to follow development standards and conventions. Clean code is generally more robust and consumable across platforms.

Ask yourself: Does our website only support the newest browsers or operating systems? Is our website developed with best practices?

Need to wrap you head around Accessibility get access to our guide. 

Understanding Conformance Levels

WCAG 2.0 is divided into three conformance levels (A-AA-AAA) because the success criteria are organised based on the impact they have on design or visual presentation of the pages. The higher the level, the more restraining it becomes on design.

WCAG is separated into three conformance levels:

Level A (minimum)

For Level A conformance (the minimum level of conformance), the Web page satisfies all the Level A Success Criteria, or a conforming alternate version is provided.

Level AA (mid-range)

For Level AA conformance, the Web page satisfies all the Level A and Level AA Success Criteria, or a Level AA conforming alternate version is provided.

Level AAA (highest)

For Level AAA conformance, the Web page satisfies all the Level A, Level AA and Level AAA Success Criteria, or a Level AAA conforming alternate version is provided.

Since 2000 23% of all website accessibility related litigation and settlements happened in the past 3 years - Siteimprove

Design Tips for Accessibility

  • Provide sufficient contrast between foreground and background
  • Don’t use color alone to convey information
  • Ensure that interactive elements are easy to identify
  • Provide clear and consistent navigation options
  • Ensure that form elements include clearly associated labels
  • Provide easily identifiable feedback
  • Use headings and spacing to group related content
  • Create designs for different viewport sizes
  • Include image and media alternatives in your design
  • Provide controls for content that starts automatically

By 20 September 2020, the EU will require all public sector websites to follow standardized accessibility requirements - Siteimprove

Writting Tips for Accessibility

  • Provide informative, unique page titles
  • Use headings to convey meaning and structure
  • Make link text meaningful
  • Write meaningful text alternatives for images
  • Create transcripts and captions for multimedia
  • Provide clear instructions
  • Keep content clear and concise

Development Tips for Accessibility

  • Associate a label with every form control
  • Include alternative text for images
  • Identify page language and language changes
  • Use mark-up to convey meaning and structure
  • Help users avoid and correct mistakes
  • Reflect the reading order in the code order
  • Write code that adapts to the user’s technology
  • Provide meaning for non-standard interactive elements
  • Ensure that all interactive elements are keyboard accessible
  • Avoid CAPTCHA where possible

Break down accessibility issues into priorities, manageable tasks. Siteimprove

Testing Tips for Accessibility

  • To save time automate the bulk of your accessibility testing by investing in a testing tool like Siteimprove.
  • Accessibility testing requires human input. We reccomend using screen reader testing software such as JAWS.

Need to wrap you head around Accessibility get access to our guide. 




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