10 simple tips to improve digital accessibility

15 May 2024

A man is working on a computer system in an office. Three other people in the background are also working.

What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day?

Every year, on the third Thursday of May, people from around the world mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The day gets everyone talking, thinking, and learning about the importance of improving access to digital information. This is critical as one in six Australians live with disability, and as of January 2023, 96% of the Australian population use the internet.

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility is the practice of creating digital platforms that can be accessed, navigated, and understood by people with disability. Digital platforms can include websites, mobile apps, videos, and social media content.

Digital access empowers people with disability, such as visual impairment, hearing loss, or cognitive and neurological challenges, to access information and products equitably and with greater autonomy.

According to the the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.2 (WCAG 2.2), an organisation’s digital platforms and tools should be easy to use and work well for people who use assistive technologies, like screen readers.

Some examples include colour schemes with high contrast text, images having alt text, and clear descriptions for links outside of the webpage. This makes sure everyone can use digital technology in their own way.

Where do most websites go wrong?

A 2024 WebAIM study of one million websites showed that a staggering 95.9 per cent of home pages had at least one accessibility failure, based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The most common accessibility failures include:

  • low contrast text,
  • missing alternative (alt) text for images,
  • empty links,
  • buttons,
  • missing document language, and
  • missing form labels.

This is a major concern, not just for people with disability, but also for organisations as they miss out on reaching the full population.

Through simple solutions, employers can ensure that their organisations’ websites and digital products are built and maintained in an accessible and inclusive way.

Tips to improve digital accessibility

Improving digital accessibility would significantly remove barriers and unlock possibilities for people with disability. It is the responsibility of every organisation with a website or digital product to ensure it is accessible and inclusive.

Building new websites, tools and products using the WCAG 2.2 guidelines is the first step in this direction. Here are simple tips to improve digital access:

  • Use alt text for images as they can help people using screen readers to understand the content of the image.
  • Use captions and transcripts for videos to make them accessible to people who are Deaf or Hard of hearing.
  • Use simple and clear language. Avoid technical jargon or complex sentence structures that can be difficult for some people to understand.
  • Use responsive design and ensure that digital content is accessible and looks good on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  • Always use text or symbols along with colours to convey information on your website or products.
  • Avoid the use of flashing or moving content as this can cause seizures for people with epilepsy or other photosensitive conditions.
  • Avoid using small font sizes as it makes text difficult to read, especially for people with visual impairment. Large text (larger than 18 point or 14 points bold) does not require as much contrast as smaller text.
  • Avoid auto-playing videos or audio as this can be disruptive and overwhelming, especially for people who are very sensitive to what they see and hear.
  • Make sure all the documents available are in accessible versions or alternative formats.
  • Ensure that the colour contrast between the text and background should be greater than or equal to 4:5:1 for small text and 3:1 for large text.

If you already have a website or a digital product, check how inclusive and accessible are they. Ask questions like:

  • Does my website include accessibility features, including colour contrast (difference between background and text colour), alt text descriptions, functional hyperlinks, and clear call to action buttons?
  • Is my website and digital products compatible with screen readers and keyboard short cuts or larger cursors?
  • Do all the video and audio content on my website and social media platforms have closed captions and audio descriptions?
  • Do all forms have labels for screen readers to read out?
  • Is the website heading structure clear, so that the webpage has a clear flow, and screen readers can read out the content in a logical manner?
  • Does my website use flashing lights or images?

If you need a quick report on your website’s accessibility, W3C provides a list of web accessibility evaluation tools to help you work out if your web content meets accessibility guidelines. 

Improving accessibility is everyone’s responsibility. Co-design and check the website and digital products with a variety of people including those with disability so that everyone can access information and experience your digital content, web-based service, and products equally.

Looking for advice on disability employment? Get in touch.

Want to attract, employ, and retain people with disability in your workplace? Get free, confidential, and expert support from JobAccess.

Call us on 1800 464 800 to speak to our resourceful Advisers or visit www.jobaccess.gov.au for more information.

Related pages

JobAccess Employer Toolkit

Employers’ rights and responsibilities

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