Meeting WCAG 1.2 AA Accessibility Standards

5 common accessibility problems with town, parish or community council websites

1. Can you magnify your website by 200% without needing to scroll sideways to view the content

How can you check?

If you are working on a PC, you can hold down your Ctrl and press the + key on your keyboard repeatedly. Each time you press the + key, the magnification will increase. Depending on the software you are using, you will probably see the magnification level in the top bar of your web browser – usually just to the right of where your web address appears (the part where is says https://…. You will see the percentage increase each time you press the + key.

If your website is correctly programmed you will be able to reach 200% and the content will still be clearly readable. You may find that some elements of your site will reflow so that perhaps the sidebar content will now appear underneath the main page content, but that is fine.

Why does it matter?

Visually impaired visitors may need to magnify the text in your website. Visually impaired visitors can have a range of disabilities and some may be temporary such as someone who doesn’t have their reading glasses.

2. Can you use the Tab key to navigate through your website?

How can you tell?

Begin by clicking in the top address bar of your website. This is where the web address is (beginning https://….). Repeatedly press the Tab key and see if the cursor moves through the content of your site. Make sure that the menus (tabs) are all fully displayed while you are doing this and that you can get through all the content on the page without the cursor getting stuck anywhere.

Why does it matter?

Visitors with motor disabilities many not be able to use a mouse. This group includes visitors with arthritis for example.

3. Does your website have flashing elements that auto-play

How can you tell if it is a problem?

It is important that anything that auto-plays on your website can be paused. So for example if you have an image slideshow at the top of your homepage it should only show for a short period or there should be the option to pause it. This can either be by controls (a pause button) or by a convention of hovering over it to pause it.

Why does it matter

Visitors with cognitive disabilities can find flashing or changing content difficult to understand and distracting. This group includes visitors who have disabilities such as dyslexia or are prone to seizures such as epilepsy.

4. Does your site use non-descriptive links?

How can you tell?

Look though your site for links such as ‘cllick here’ or ‘minutes’. It is important that the link clearly describes what is being linked to and that the same link text is not used to go to different destinations. Is it clear what is being linked to if the link is read without the contect of the surrounding text?

Why does it matter?

Visually impaired visitors using screenreaders will often just scan the links in the page to work out how to reach the content they are looking for. If they find a series of links saying ‘Minutes’ (for example) they will not be able to establish which set of minutes it is linking to. Instead rename your links ‘Minutes 20 May 2021’, for example.

5. Are any forms your site uses accessible?

Do your forms have labels that clearly identify what should go in each field. This will enable visually impaired visitors using screenreaders to identify all the fields. You should not use ‘honeypots’ as these can also trap visually impaired visitors.

Another issue is with forms that time-out after a certain time period. This can create a problem for visitors with motor-impairments who can find it difficult to fill in all the fields and need extra time.