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Web accessibility can be daunting, especially when there are legal requirements and real consequences for public sector organisations, such as councils, government departments, and housing associations when your website is not compliant, and when there is the risk of excluding some of your target audience. 

At Spindogs, we get it. We offer an Accessibility Assessment to review your website and lay it all out on the table in a way you can get your head around, so that we can make a plan to resolve any accessibility violations that have been flagged before your website gets reviewed by the government.

Inaccessibility is proactive, so at the beginning of a project it is important to ask the question, “who are we willing to exclude?"

— Gareth Ford Williams 'A Little Book of Accessibility'

The GDS (Government Digital Service) have been ramping up their reviewing efforts, last year they reviewed 437 websites and 10 mobile apps, they found 3100 accessibility issues that have now been fixed. Unfortunately, for over 100 of the reviewed organisations, GDS worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to take further action.

Currently, the government is reviewing websites and mobile apps against the WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards. These are guidelines written and maintained by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organisation for the Internet.

In October 2023, W3C published a new version of the guidelines, WCAG 2.2, and from October 2024, the government will be reviewing guidelines against this new version.

WCAG: 2.1 compliance ensures 2.2 compatibility

The new WCAG version is backwards compatible with the old version, so if you satisfy all of the 2.1 criteria, you will satisfy all of the 2.2 criteria. In the new version, there are 9 additional criteria and one has been removed:

  • 2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (AA)
  • 2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (AAA)
  • 2.4.13 Focus Appearance (AAA)
  • 2.5.7 Dragging Movements (AA)
  • 2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (AA)
  • 3.2.6 Consistent Help (A)
  • 3.3.7 Redundant Entry (A)
  • 3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (AA)
  • 3.3.9 Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (AAA)
  • 4.1.1 Parsing (Level A) is to be removed

What are the levels of accessibility

1. Level A (Basic Accessibility):

This is the minimum level of conformance.

  • Addresses the most basic accessibility requirements.
  • Focuses on ensuring that web content is accessible to some users with disabilities.
  • Provides a foundation for improved accessibility but may not address all user needs.

2. Level AA (Standard Accessibility):

This is the standard level of conformance and is recommended for most websites and web applications.

  • Builds upon Level A and includes additional criteria for a more comprehensive level of accessibility.
  • Many organisations aim for Level AA compliance to meet legal requirements and provide a more inclusive online environment.

3. Level AAA (Enhanced Accessibility):

This is the highest level of conformance and includes the most rigorous accessibility criteria.

  • Provides the highest level of accessibility, accommodating a broad range of disabilities and user needs.
  • Meeting Level AAA criteria may be challenging for some websites and may not be feasible in all situations.
  • Some criteria at this level may be difficult to implement without impacting the design or functionality of the web content.

We focus on Level AA for our Accessibility Assessment, in part because this is what the government reviews against, but also because we believe this is the best of both worlds as it addresses a wider range of disabilities and ensures a better user experience for a broader audience.

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Overview of changes for Level AA

When an element receives keyboard focus, the element is not entirely hidden by other content or elements on the page.

What to do

Ensure when an item gets keyboard focus, it remains partially visible.

Why it’s important

Maintaining visibility for elements in focus is vital for users who rely on keyboards, as they need to perceive which element is currently selected without mouse interaction.

Functionality that uses a dragging movement for operation must be achievable by a single pointer input without dragging.

What to do

Ensure there is a straightforward pointer-based alternative for actions that typically involve dragging.

Why it’s important

Some users may face challenges using a mouse for dragging actions, and need to use alternative methods to operate dragging movement.

All interactive targets (i.e. links and buttons) should take up at least 24×24 pixels. This can include white space around the target.

What to do

Verify that interactive targets either meet the specified minimum size or have adequate spacing around them.

Why it’s important

Some individuals with physical impairments may find it challenging to click on small buttons placed closely together. Ensuring a minimum target size enhances accessibility for all users.

If a page contains a website help mechanism that is repeated on multiple pages, they must occur in the same order relative to other page content, unless a change is initiated by the user.

What to do

Ensure that help elements are consistently located when present on multiple pages.

Why it’s important

Maintaining a consistent placement of help features aids individuals seeking assistance, as they can more easily locate and access help resources when they are positioned in the same place across various pages.

Information previously entered by or provided to the user that is required to be entered again in the same process is either auto-populated or available for the user to select.

What to do

Incorporate autocomplete, auto-fill mechanisms, or refrain from requesting identical  information more than once.

Why it’s important

Reducing the need for redundant data entry minimises cognitive load and lowers the risk of errors in the user’s interaction with the system.

Making sure a cognitive function test (such as remembering a password or solving a puzzle) is not required for any step in an authentication process.

What to do

Avoid requiring users to solve, recall, or transcribe information during the login process.

Why it’s important

Individuals with cognitive disabilities may face challenges in solving puzzles, memorising credentials, or entering one-time passcodes. Eliminating such requirements enhances accessibility for a broader user base.

Assess your website’s accessibility compliance

While undergoing an accessibility assessment is not sufficient to make your website fully accessible, it can be a crucial step. We offer actionable recommendations to enhance accessibility, helping you allocate time and budget effectively and provide an accessible web experience for both user satisfaction and commercial success.

Find out more about our accessibility assessment

How can we help?