Britain’s online newspapers accessibility scores – should do better

By Nic Price on 20 November 2007 — 1 min read

Today Martin Belam publishes the scores from his excellent series of articles looking at the accessibility of the UK’s main national newspaper websites.

The Times came out on top, even though it makes no use of an on-screen text-resizing widget, nor of accesskeys as shortcuts for keyboard users.

Overall my conclusion has to be that only a couple of newspapers are taking seriously any obligation to make their services accessible. I was particularly concerned by The Sun and the Daily Mail using CAPTCHA technology with no alternative for users with accessibility issues, but the general pattern for most papers was quite poor. Many are putting completely unneccessary barriers in the way of people reaching their content by making simple decisions like using fixed font sizes, and not including ‘skip navigation’ links.
[source: currybetdotnet]

The results are worrying but not surprising. And as Martin says, he’s still really only “scratching the surface” in his tests.

Sadly all too few website managers understand their obligations as far as accessibility and the law is concerned. Webcredible have a useful summary here, but in a nutshell you can be sued if you do not make reasonable adjustments to provide equal access to your content to everyone.

The RNIB has approached two large companies with regard to their websites. When they raised the accessibility issues of the websites under the DDA, both companies made the necessary changes, rather than facing the prospect of legal action (in exchange for anonymity).
[source: webcredible]

People really shouldn’t need convincing. I wonder if it would make any difference if they realised that by improving the accessibility of their websites, they will also make them more usable and more “readable”. And when it comes to the big internet search engines, being readable means being findable.

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