by Neil Chevalier

This includes individuals with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. In Ireland, legislation regarding website accessibility is set to become mandatory by 2025.

The Disability Act 2005 and the Equal Status Act 2000 both prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in relation to goods, services, and facilities. This includes access to websites. In 2018, the Irish government published the Web Accessibility Directive, which requires public sector websites and mobile apps to meet certain accessibility standards. This directive will become mandatory for all public sector bodies by September 2020, and for all other websites by September 2025.

There are several international standards for website accessibility, including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. These guidelines provide a set of principles and technical requirements for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Some of the key principles of WCAG 2.1 include perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (POUR). This means that web content should be presented in a way that is perceivable (e.g. through text or audio), operable (e.g. through the keyboard), understandable (e.g. through clear language and labels), and robust (e.g. through compatibility with assistive technologies). Going forward these international best standards should be adopted as part of your websites Front end web developmentDigital Strategy Formulation.

There are several ways to make a website more accessible for people with disabilities. Some of these include:

  • Providing alt text for images: Alt text is a short description of an image that is displayed if the image cannot be loaded or if the user is using a screen reader. Alt text helps users with visual impairments understand the content of an image.
  • Using descriptive link text: Link text should clearly describe the destination of the link. This helps users with cognitive impairments and screen reader users understand the content of the link.
  • Providing captions for videos: Captions provide a written transcript of the audio in a video. This helps users with auditory impairments understand the content of the video.
  • Using clear and simple language: Using clear and simple language makes it easier for users with cognitive impairments to understand the content of the website.
  • Designing for keyboard accessibility: Users with physical impairments may rely on the keyboard to navigate a website. Ensuring that all functionality can be accessed through the keyboard makes the website more accessible for these users.

By following these and other best practices for website accessibility, organisations in Ireland can ensure that their websites are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. This not only helps to comply with legislation, but also makes good business sense as it allows organisations to reach a wider audience.

Author: Neil Chevalier

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