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SEO Services > Web Accessibility

In 1999 the Web Accessibility Initiative, a project by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 1.0.

Since publication the WAI recommendations have been widely accepted as best practice guidelines in developing universally accessible websites.

In 2006 the British Standards Institution (BSI) in collaboration with the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) published PAS 78: Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites. Aimed primarily at UK businesses, charities, volunteer organisations, as well as local and central government it describes the web standards and usability testing needed for producing accessible websites.

The guideline is largely based the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines with an additional emphasis on the use of structured mark-up, avoiding presentational attributes, and recommending the use of CSS layouts. PAS 78, in essence advocates the use of existing web standards.

Not only does the Disability Discrimination Act now make it unlawful for 'service providers to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide them any service which it provides to members of the public', but there also are many powerful Search Engine Optimisation and business advantages to creating accessible websites.

Quick to recognise their legal obligations and the commercial benefits, many organisations have adopted the principles of web accessibility as advocated by W3C and PAS 78 with accessibility becoming an important contributory factor in website design and development. A quick Google search for web accessibility today returns nearly 31 million results.

At SEO-MAMA our PAS 78 compliance programs generate win/win solutions. Not only do site visitors enjoy improved accessibility and a superior site use experience but also our clients enjoy the benefits of access to a larger user base, improved Search Engine Optimisation, lower long-term administration overheads and the subsequent rewards to their bottom line.

More than half of the population in the UK may face some form of difficulty in accessing content and information on the Internet with 14% of the population, some 8.6 million people registered disabled.

The needs that Web accessibility aims to address include:
Visual: Visual impairments including blindness, various common types of low vision and poor eyesight, different types of colour blindness.
4% of the UK population, that's 2 million people have problems with their sight.
One in 12 men and one in 200 women have some form of colour blindness - that's 9% of the population.
Motor/Mobility: e.g. difficulty or inability to use the hands, including tremors, muscle slowness, loss of fine muscle control, etc., due to conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke;
Auditory: Deafness or hearing impairments, including individuals who are hard of hearing.
9 million people in the UK have impaired hearing from partial hearing to profound deafness - 15% of the population
Seizures: Photoepileptic seizures caused by visual strobe or flashing effects.
Cognitive/Intellectual: Developmental disabilities, learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.), and cognitive disabilities of various origins, affecting memory, attention, developmental "maturity," problem-solving and logic skills, etc.;
There are 2 million people with learning difficulties in the UK - 4% of the population
An aging population - In the UK 12 million people (21%) are aged 60 or over
The Employers Forum on Disability estimate that disabled people in the UK have a disposable income of 50 billion per year with the over 60 years additionally commanding a significant amount of the disposable income in the UK. Clearly, making your web presence accessible to more users allows organisations access to their spending power.

We offer a whole range of design and development input that can address numerous accessibility issues and at the same time improve general site performance, Search Engine Ranking and Usability through best practice development.

Best Practice Coding
At SEO-MAMA we code sites using clean HTML code to create a site search engines can easily add to their indexes and users can easily access.

Examples include - ALT descriptions are assigned to images enabling the Screen Readers of visually impaired visitors read it out. We make sure that text is displayed through HTML and not images. Text embedded in images is difficult to read and should be avoided.

Link text in an accessible website must always be descriptive of its destination enabling visitors to scan pages by tabbing from link to link listening to the content of the link text.

Flash, like JavaScript, has historically been inaccessible to many users, including those using screen readers. Where possible we minimise any Flash or JavaScript content.

As page titles are one of the most important attributes on the page we make sure they are meaningful. This principle also applies to headings and sub-headings. By tabbing across titles and headings visitors gain a clear understanding as to the nature of the content.

We develop an architecture and workflow that Makes Sense To Search Engines and to your audience. Site maps, or more complete directory offer no nonsense lists of links to visually impaired users,
Well-coded sites form the basis of a successful web presence with a high ratio of content to code and the kind of fast-loading, accessible structure that search engine and users adore.

Increased accessibility of different devices and browsers.
With tens of millions of mobile devices likely to be sold worldwide this year we're extremely keen to make content easily accessible to in-car browsers, WebTV, Lynx browsers, Screenreaders and PDAs. We develop CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) based sites with strong ratios of content to code. This enables screen readers and mobile browsers and devices to more effectively work through the HTML code. Search engines also like high content, clean CSS based sites.

Websites will work well at different screen sizes such as 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, and 1152x864 as well as on all browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Maxthon, Safari, Netscape, Konqueror, JAWS screen reader, and on PDAs, and screen sizes ranging from 600px to 1600px in width.

Improve page download times
Using CSS for the site's layout not only makes it work well across different technologies but in effect separating content from presentation significantly improving web page download times. Usability studies have shown that the maximum time web users will wait for a page to download is in the region of 9 seconds after which they'll get frustrated and go elsewhere.

Save on Bandwidth
For high traffic sites significant savings can accrue through using CSS, reducing file sizes by up to 50%.
 

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