UK online retailers fail to meet accessibility standards
A study by Nomensa, a digital agency which specialises in perfecting online user experiences, has concluded that many of the top UK retailers do not conform to the internationally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). That’s based on both human and automated tests carried out on their home and terms and conditions pages.
MD of Nomensa, Simon Norris, said that there were over 10 million disabled people in the UK, and that many of them found it difficult or impossible to use online retail stores. Even those wearing glasses, those with a mild visual impairment, or those suffering with RSI, could find many sites unfriendly to use.
“Many of the corporations audited invest millions each year in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. Today I am calling on the boardrooms of these retailers to really start to take their online responsibility just as seriously.” he said.
It’s not all bad news, though, with John Lewis, M&S and Tesco being commended for showing particular consideration of accessibility issues.
Have you had problems with accessing online shopping sites?
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thank for article
What companies do not seem to understand is that improving accessiblity by writing valid code and implementing features aimed at making a site usable for those with disabilities they are also making the site much easier and more satisfying to use for all their users.
Happy users, that find a site easy to use equals more money and return visits. Accessibility needs to be pushed to companies as a benefit which has a positive return on investment rather than a cost with little benefit for the majority.
UK citizens could take legal action under the UK Discrimination Laws like the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has against Target in America.
RNIB might support such an action, they are good advocates in the UK, sending out non-compliance notices to UK firms with inaccessible websites. The Queen’s website is also inaccessible and has 33 HTML errors and fails every accessibility test.
If the Queen (A patron of the RNIB) cannot get it right, who else can be expected to do the right thing by the visually impaired?
Many companies use Content Management Software CMS to make their pages, which entrenches errors. They need to employ a professional who can hand code W3C validated HTML which is accessible with a keyboard alone. They can afford it.
I cannot afford to be in business and not validate my code as well as designing it to be accessible. For good commercial as well as technical reasons, validated code is indexed better by search engines. It is also a legal responsibility and a moral obligation I believe to treat everyone with respect and make it as easy as possible for them to access your services without leaving their armchair, which they may be confined to.
At least in the UK, the government is trying to lead by example. On average, UK government sites have fewer HTML errors and more accessibility features than Australian or USA government sites.
An international validity and accessibility comparison I recently completed.
Australian government web sites