What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility refers to the making of pages on the Internet accessible to all users, especially those with disabilities. By making your website accessible you ensure that it's an inclusive technology rather than one that discrimiates against those that may have problems accessing it.
Does my website have to be accessible?
If you or your organisation is covered by the UK Disability Discrimination Act (1995) then you should also make your website accessible. In 1999 this act was extended to stipulate that businesses and organisations are now required, within reason, to adjust their way of providing services so that disabled people can take advantage of whatever goods or services are being offered.
Why does it matter?
The Internet is an increasingly important source of information for many people, providing invaluable resources on topics such as education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation and much more. As a result of this it is essential that everybody should have equal access to these resources, regardless of any disabilities they may have.
From a business point of view, if your website is not accessible you could be losing a large number of valuable sales.
When should I consider accessibility?
You should take into account accessibility issues from the very beginning of the design process for a website. It is much easier to build an accessible website from scratch than it is to attempt to change an existing website to make it accessible.