Saturday, February 09, 2008

Most websites do not meet the needs of the visually impaired

Simpleweb a Bristol(UK) based web design and development specialist, recently discovered that over 75% of local web design companies have websites that are not accessible to the visually impaired or people with disabilities.Mark Panay, MD of Simpleweb Ltd, revealed how he and colleagues tested hundreds of websites from web design companies offering website solutions that should be accessible to people with disabilities, but the majority of the time were found to be severely lacking.

"Out of the 200 websites that we checked we found that more than 75% didn't validate with W3C compliance (correctly made websites), with approximately the same percentage again not passing any of the current web based accessibility tests. We find this very disheartening for the current wave of websites being built for small businesses and their potential users."Accessibility has now become an intrinsic part of building a website. While accessibility as defined by the RNIB and UK government has become a standard requirement for public sector websites; the private sector, especially small to medium sized businesses, are being left in the dark by website design companies that are not practicing what they preach.

The web designers and agencies used in the test were picked out at random from local web design directories in the South West of England, with many having beautifully designed pages but with no thought for the visually impaired or handicapped.The UK's Disability Discrimination Act 1995 states that it is the duty of a company providing services to the public to make reasonable changes to "practice, policy or procedure" if a service is unreasonably difficult for disabled persons to make use of.

The findings from Simpleweb show that the majority of web companies essentially violate this act with their own website, which in turn puts businesses getting online for the first time in a precarious position.There are over nine million disabled people in the UK, two million of which have sight related problems, with an estimated £50 billion worth of disposable income. With just a basic understanding of the current web standards from online agencies, every new website could offer a decent experience for all visitors, the economic benefits alone should encourage any website designer or agency to learn the new skills necessary.

--64 Alma RdCliftonBristol, UKBS82DJ

Simpleweb Ltd ( ) is results driven web design company based in Bristol, UK. Established in 2006, Simpleweb has built accessible websites for large government organisations though to small champagne bars. Simpleweb combines accessibility, content management and simplicity into affordable solutions for small to medium sized businesses, public and private.


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