Guidance on how to develop a website that is user-friendly for people with disabilities has been issued by the British Standards Institution.
The advice follows an investigation by government body the Disability Rights Commission, which revealed that 81% of UK websites are inaccessible to people with disabilities.
The PAS 78 guidance document, sponsored by the Disability Rights Commission and the BSI, covers six areas:
- The accessible website process, from commissioning to building a site
- Accessibility policies
- What web accessibility guidelines mean
- Involvement of disabled people
- Compliance checking
- Additional useful accessibility provisions.
For many disabled people, the key to a website being usable lies in the design allowing the core HTML to be read by, for example, a text-to-speech reader. Links that can be reached by tabbing rather than using a mouse can help users with impaired motor skills.
Since 1999, website owners have had a legal duty under the Disability Discrimination Act to ensure that services provided via the web are accessible to the UK's 10 million disabled people.
Bert Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, said, "Businesses and the web industry have a responsibility to ensure the web is barrier-free to disabled people. It also makes good business sense.
"An accessible website is easier for both disabled and non-disabled people to use, and is bound to attract more customers."