Accessibility / WCAG

At Unc Inc, we apply 'Human Centered Design'. This means that our designs should be pleasing to the eye, should offer an intuitive user experience, have easy to use functionality, and contain technology based on industry standards. 

We like to take less valid users into account, people with a handicap, older people. for many of our clients, mainly in the (semi-)government, this attention to special needs is obligatory, and we need to optimise our websites for be digitally accessible.

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What are the limitations of people that you need to take into account when designing and developing a website?

The most common and well-known limitation is full blindness. In order to make use of websites, blind people generally use a screen reader: software that reads the screen out loud. This software however needs enough context in order to give a clear story to the user. For this, a clear (technical) structure of the website is essential: what is the navigation, where is the main content, what does a photo display, where do links lead to, etc.

Another good example are people with poor eyesight. For these kinds of users, fonts need to be a decent size (or easily adjustable), the contrast between foreground (text) and background needs to be high enough, etc. For people with dyslexia the most important thing is a use of clear and readable fonts, the length of sentences and words needs to be limited, etc.

People with a balance impairment can have difficulty using websites with a lot of animations, especially when large parts of the website move around. A setting in their browser kan reduce motion and animations, but the website does need to actively listen to this setting.

Advantages for users

Any user is helped with a website that has been structured properly. Everyone will like it better if links clearly indicate where they go, buttons are labelled with what action will happen when pressed, and forms that clearly indicate what information is expected.

A good structure and design of a website is also beneficial for other things, such as indexing. After all, search engines benefit from proper structure.

What are the standards we need to adhere to?

There are a lot of standards and certifications, practically they are a lot alike. The Dutch government has committed to Digitoegankelijkheid, where governmental organisations are obliged to declare the extent of accessibility of their website, and what measurements are being taken to improve it. The most common, international standard is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which has two levels: A and AA.

Out point of view is that our websites need to adhere to the WCAG standards as much as possible, which will cover a lot of the above standards. Getting an actual certification is generally not the intended goal.

What is the impact on my website?

In their core, the standards are not set to be limiting, they just define the minimal requirements for design and interaction. Generally, designs do not have to be drastically changed, there is no limitation to which colours can and can not be used, etc. However, the standards require more attention to details. Use fonts that are large enough. Do not use long sentences, but overflow them to the next line. If buttons are simply indicated with an icon, use title attributes to explain what the button does. Give a clear indication of what you expect from users, for instance which elements are clickable, which requirements input fields have, etc. 

It is also possible to get a certification for WCAG compliance. In The Netherlands, the Stichting Waarmerk drempelvrij.nl is one of the organisations that can test a website for compliance. Remember that if there is a wish for certification, there will be extra costs involved. Apart from the price of the certification itself, there is an added cost to design, development and testing. The whole website will be inspected, and the devil is in the details.

We have experience with making websites complaint and getting a certification. We are also registered in the Toegankelijkheidsregister, https://www.toegankelijkheidsregister.nl/register/unc-inc-amsterdam