An Overview to Accessibility

In the increasingly digital landscape of our lives, where work, shopping and access to local council services occur online, the prevalence of websites has expanded to encompass businesses from both the private and public sectors, highlighting the critical need for universal understanding of accessibility and the implementation of measures to ensure inclusivity on our websites.


Accessibility is a term that’s become a lot more common in the digital space in recent years. So much of our daily lives now takes place online, from work, to shopping, to using local council services.

That means almost every business today now has a website, including both private sector and public sector organisations. For that reason, it’s crucial that we all understand accessibility and take steps to make our websites accessible for everyone.

What is accessibility and why is it important?

According to The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): “Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web and contribute to the web.”
A large focus of accessibility for websites and apps is to help make the experience of using technology easier for people with some form of disability. This includes people with:

  • Impaired vision
  • Impaired hearing
  • Motor difficulties
  • Learning difficulties
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Speech disabilities
  • Physical disabilities

Accessibility is about universality, and its purpose is to make technology easier to use for everyone. There’s currently around 14.6 million people with a registered disability in the UK, but there are many more people who can find it challenging to use technology such as websites or a mobile app.
For instance, someone with a temporary injury, like a broken arm in a cast, or someone whose eyesight is deteriorating to the point of struggling to read small text on a computer screen.
Being accessible means ensuring your website or mobile app can be used by as many people as possible. To achieve this, your website’s content and design must be clear and simple, and should be compatible with various adjustments certain people might need to make.

Essentially, it’s about making sure as many people as possible, no matter their physical ability, location, or circumstances, can access and interact with your online content and digital services.

Paul Halfpenny


Standards and principles for accessibility

WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is an international standard developed by the W3 Consortium, in conjunction with individuals and organisations across the world, that is designed to explain how to make content more accessible to those with disabilities.
The most recent iteration of the WCAG highlights four main principles that should be in place to ensure a website is deemed accessible for all users. All organisations, across both the private and public sectors, should be proactively working to have their websites) follow these principles and uphold the standards for accessibility.

  1. Perceivable – All your website visitors must be able to perceive, or understand and be aware of, the content and information present.
  2. Operable – Your visitors should be able to operate your website without experiencing any form of disruption.
  3. Understandable – Your visitors should be able to easily understand all the content on your website, including written, graphic, audio and video.
  4. Robust – Your website’s content needs to be easily interpreted and consumed by visitors.


The WCAG standards have 12-13 guidelines. For each guideline, there are testable success criteria. The success criteria are at three levels: A, AA, and AAA. The success criteria are what determine “conformance” to WCAG. That is, in order to meet WCAG, the content needs to meet the success criteria.
You can find full detailed guidance, explaining how to put these principles into practice, on the W3C website.

Private Sector

It’s been extremely positive to see accessibility becoming more of a priority for businesses in recent years. For many, that has been driven by a genuine moral desire to offer an inclusive, accessible experience to those with disabilities.
However, businesses may be more driven by the requirements and regulations that now dictate the necessary level of accessibility for organisations. These regulations will differ depending on whether you operate within the private sector or the public sector.
The regulations mean that any organisation with a website or a mobile app is required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure their sites are accessible to people with disabilities.
In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 requires you to anticipate the needs of potential disabled customers for those reasonable adjustments, and that’s why it’s so important to raise awareness for all the various people with accessibility needs.

Public Sector

If your organisation operates within the public sector, and your website or mobile app doesn’t meet the necessary accessibility requirements, you could be breaking the law.
Since 2019, UK-based public sector organisations have faced stricter regulations. You’re now required to publish a statement as evidence that you’ve met the accessibility requirements and are compliant with the WCAG 2.1.
If you are outside the UK, you can find more information about the regulations affecting you in this Web Usability article.

Benefits of making technology more accessible

While the primary goal of accessibility for websites is to benefit people with disabilities, there are also advantages to be gained from a business perspective, such as:

  1. Engagement with Larger Audiences – one of the main benefits of making your website and digital services more accessible is that they’ll be readily available to a wider audience and won’t exclude any potential users.
  2. User Experience (UX) and Business Growth – improved accessibility will make your website clearer and easier to use, providing a greatly improved user experience.
  3. Moral Responsibility – it’s a far more ethical approach to digital business, and ensures your organisation is meeting its moral – and legal – obligation to provide an equal experience for everyone.
  4. Search Engine Optimisation – aspects of accessibility such as properly marked-up semantic structure, and well-labelled links and images, make it easier for search engines to discover your website.

Improving your web accessibility

To help create a more inclusive, equal, and accessible experience for anyone visiting your website, we’ve listed some simple tips.
If you want to go above and beyond to ensure your website is truly accessible for everyone, our top tip is to test it with an audience of people who have real disabilities and a wide range of needs.

  1. Use a content management system (CMS) that facilitates accessibility, such as WordPress.
  2. Structure your site logically.
  3. Provide navigation so users always know where they are and where they can go next.
  4. Use headings correctly to organise the content on your web pages clearly.
  5. Make content as easy as possible to see and hear.
  6. Write in plain, simple English.
  7. Structure content so it can be adaptable.
  8. Use alternative text that is simple and descriptive.
  9. Use bold colours and ensure contrast is used well.
  10. Avoid making any touch points on your site too small.
  11. Ensure any PDFs you publish are accessible too.
  12. Provide total functionality via the keyboard.
  13. Allow for plenty of time to engage with your website.
  14. Avoid blinking and flashing content.
  15. Write clear, helpful error messages.

Remember that not all websites that comply with the WCAG are accessible for everyone. Simply being compliant with the guidelines won’t provide you with empathy or understanding for the real-life challenges some people face when using technology.
In order to make significant steps forward with accessibility, hold one-on-one testing sessions with people who require support. Ask for their feedback to identify problems that aren’t covered in the WCAG, and ask their advice to help resolve any issues with accessibility.

The Marketer’s Guide To Web Accessibility

We worked closely with our partners at Web Usability to put together an extensive guide. Aiming to help modern-day marketers adhere to accessibility guidelines and standards.

Accessibility in WordPress

WordPress is the most popular platform in the world for building websites, for both small and large businesses alike. It currently powers 45% of all websites on the  Internet. With that in mind, it’s worth looking at how WordPress as a CMS helps facilitate accessibility for its users.

Web accessibility in the UK is covered in the Equality Act 2010, which protects all individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

WordPress is a great platform if accessibility is a priority for you, your business, and your audience. It’s an open-source platform with a fantastic developer community supporting it, which means that people are able to provide helpful updates to the technology to improve it for everyone.

The WordPress community has been working hard in recent years to ensure the platform makes it easy to build websites that are as inclusive and accessible as possible.
In fact, WordPress’s team has created an annual event to celebrate accessibility within WordPress, called WordPress Accessibility Day. This 24-hour event recently took place during November, featuring a wealth of insightful, constructive sessions from technology and accessibility experts.
As a digital agency, here at Filter we recognise the value that WordPress provides in this area and it is our key content management system recommendation.

How we do accessibility at Filter

During our initial Discovery and Definition period, we work with clients to determine their required success criteria for accessibility, and what level we should be achieving – for instance, A, AA, or AAA.
We then develop the website or mobile app to the required standard during design and development, ensuring that we meet the relevant guidelines for the criteria.

For instance, during design, we will focus on ensuring that the website is easy to use, has clear signage and items such as colour contrast meet the standards.
In development, we focus on producing semantic HTML that can be parsed and easily understood by screen-readers, and ensuring that ‘hidden’ tags such as ARIA and ALT, that provide additional context to users with impaired eyesight, are set up and configured correctly.

Web accessibility in the UK is covered in the Equality Act 2010, which protects all individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

How do we test our work?

We don’t just rely upon our ability to look at a site and tick a box to meet the guidelines.
In the design phase we use tools such as Stark, which plugs directly into Figma, and ensures that the the colours we are employing for the design do not cause any contrast issues using resources like ​​
During development, we evaluate the work we are doing in an ongoing manner using the WAVE Evolution Chrome plug-in.
Finally, we put the sites that we develop to the test using tools such as SortSite, which runs a full scan of every single page on a site and highlights any potential issues where the guidelines are not being met.

This process is completed during the initial QA phase, when we have loaded in draft content for users to test with. Once the full content load is complete on UAT, we then perform a second scan to check if anything has changed as the content has been added.

Manual testing, including using a screen reader and keyboard navigation, is crucial to ensure a fully accessible experience.

The results of each scan are available as both Word and Excel documents, providing both Filter and clients with the ability to see where mitigations need to be put in place. These results are graded in terms of severity – from highest to lowest, and with information for items that have no strict classification awarded.


Filter also partners with agencies that have specialist knowledge of accessibility and usability issues, and can provide further support by testing to an enhanced level.

Related articles

Meet Our Accessibility Partners

Meet Our Accessibility Partners

Meet our new accessibility partners who are helping us to gain valuable insight and knowledge from working with leading experts.

WCAG Guidelines version 2.2 is coming soon

WCAG Guidelines version 2.2 is coming soon

New Marketer’s Guide to Accessibility Launched

New Marketer’s Guide to Accessibility Launched

Find out more about our newly published business resource, focusing on web accessibility and why it’s so important.

Frequently Asked Questions

Web Accessibility refers to the practice of designing and developing websites and applications that can be widely used, particularly by those with disabilities such as visual, auditory, physically, speech, cognitive and neurological conditions.

The overall goal of web accessibility is to make web content available to everyone, regardless of any conditions or challenges someone may be facing.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of international standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to provide guidance on how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are organized into three levels of conformance, each with increasing levels of accessibility: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Find out more about WCAG here.
There has been a lot of talk about accessibility in recent years amongst the WordPress community. As more and more features are introduced, the approach accessibility will continue to improve. We recently published an article detailing exactly how the WP community are improving accessibility.

Some simple accessibilty tips for WordPress users are:

  • Use accessible themes

  • Add alternative text (ALT Text) to imagery

  • Use the appropriate headings

  • Provide captions and transcripts for any video content

  • Use descriptive link text

  • Test your website for accessibility

In short, the answer is yes, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed various documents that cover mobile accessibility. Some of the key considerations include:

  • Consider using touch screen interactions

  • Provide alternative text for images

  • Use more accessible colour contrast

  • Provide clear and concise instructions

  • Use platform specific accessibility features

  • Test your app for accessibility

You can read the full document about mobile accessibility at the W3C website here.
Similar to web accessibility, there are some simple steps you can follow to ensure your mobile app is accessible:

  • Use clear and concise language

  • Provide clear and visible feedback

  • Make sure touch targets are large

  • Use high-contrast colours for your design

  • Provide alternative text (ALT Text) for images

  • Test your app for accessibility

You can test your website or mobile app by using a number of tools, such as:

  • Automated testing tools like WebAIM’s WAVE tool

  • Manual testing using assistive technology including screen readers and voice control

  • User testing with people who actually have a disability or accessibility challenge

  • Consult accessibility guidelines

ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications and is a set of attributes that can be added to HTML elements in order to improve the accessibility of website content for those with disabilities or challenges, particularly those using assistive technologies.

ARIA provides further information about the purpose, structure and the functionality of web elements. This makes it easier for assistive technology to convey this information to users with disabilities.

For example, ARIA can be used to create responsive menus and tabs that are accessible to keyboard-only users.
Yes, there are legal requirements for web accessibility. The United States, Canada and the European Union all have specific requirements which are intended to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to information and services online.

In the United States, websites and mobile apps are covered by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act means that businesses and organisations which provide goods and services to the public must make sure that their websites and mobile apps are fully accessible to those with disabilities.

You can read more about the legal requirements in your country by visiting the W3C policies page here.
You can make multimedia content more accessible by:

  • Providing captions and transcripts for video content

  • Provide audio descriptions for any video content

  • Provide alternative text (ALT Text) for all main images

  • Provide audio-only versions of video content

  • Provide accessible file formats such as HTML5

Alternative Text (known as ALT Text) is a description of an image which is provided within the HTML code of a web page. Alt Text is used by assistive technology, such as screen readers, to describe the content of images to any users who are visually impaired or blind. It also has other benefits such as improving SEO.

Providing accurate and descriptive ALT text is important for web accessibility because it ensures all users have the same access to content. Without ALT text, assistive technologies would possibly miss out on important information and might not understand the context of the image.
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