31st May 2024

What is web accessibility, and why is it important?

What is web accessibility and why is it important?

Web accessibility ensures all individuals, including those with disabilities, can easily use websites. By following guidelines like providing alt text and keyboard navigation, your website can offer equal opportunities online, ensuring inclusivity and access.

An accessible website is vital for ethical standards and legal compliance, improves user experience, and supports businesses’ search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts. Our detailed guide will explore exactly what web accessibility is, why it is so important and how it can be implemented on websites.

For more information about how britweb can help with our web accessibility services, including website accessibility audits, accessible WordPress websites for your business, and providing accessibility training, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

We offer free, no-obligation quotes across our services and will be happy to help.

What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the design and development of websites and web applications that ensure they can be used by everyone, including people with disabilities. This includes making content perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for users with a variety of impairments, such as visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, and learning difficulties.

By implementing features like alt text for images, keyboard navigation, and transcripts for audio content, websites become more accessible to assistive technologies used by individuals with disabilities. The goal is to create an inclusive web environment that allows everyone to access and interact with digital content effectively and involves following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Learn about our web design and development services.

Why is web accessibility important?

Web accessibility is crucial for ensuring that everyone can navigate and interact with online content seamlessly. By prioritising inclusivity, websites can reach a broader audience, adhere to ethical standards, and meet legal requirements. Improving web accessibility also enhances user experience and boosts SEO performance, making it a vital aspect of website development and maintenance.


By adhering to web accessibility guidelines, you’re actively promoting inclusivity and breaking down barriers that may prevent individuals with disabilities from fully engaging with online content. Over 1 billion people worldwide have disabilities, so it’s essential to cater to a diverse range of needs.

Ethical considerations

Considering the global impact of web accessibility on inclusivity and equal access, ensuring accessible online content is ethically crucial. By catering to diverse user needs, accessible websites play an important role in bridging the digital divide and promoting social inclusion. Companies embracing web accessibility demonstrate their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and uphold the rights of individuals with disabilities.

Legal obligations

In the UK, web accessibility is governed by several legal requirements aimed at ensuring digital content is accessible to everyone. The primary legal frameworks include:

  • Equality Act 2010: Requires businesses and organisations to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled individuals are not at a substantial disadvantage when accessing services, including websites and online services.
  • Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018: These regulations mandate that public-sector websites and mobile apps meet the European Union (EU) Web Accessibility Directive standards and comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 at the AA level. Public sector bodies must publish an accessibility statement detailing the accessibility of their websites or mobile apps and how they plan to address any issues.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): While primarily focused on data protection, GDPR emphasises that information and communication technologies should be accessible to all users, ensuring that information about privacy is presented in an accessible manner.

Non-compliance with these legal requirements can lead to reputational damage and enforcement actions, such as fines.

User experience

Accessible websites benefit users with disabilities and improve all visitors’ overall experience. Features like text alternatives for images, clear navigation structures, and adjustable font sizes make websites more user-friendly and easier to navigate.

Enhancing web accessibility can lead to several benefits, including increased user engagement, higher satisfaction levels, and improved website usability. Research shows that accessible websites experience higher conversion rates and longer user sessions, positively impacting businesses.

SEO performance

One of the significant advantages of implementing online accessibility is its positive impact on search engine optimisation (SEO). Accessible websites and each accessible web page are often more readable and usable by search engines, leading to improved search rankings and increased visibility.

Generally, an accessible website will experience lower bounce rates, better indexing, and increased mobile friendliness, all of which are beneficial to SEO.

A visually impaired man uses a phone

The key principles of web accessibility

When it comes to web accessibility, there are four key principles to keep in mind as part of the WCAG:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust.

By ensuring your website follows these core principles, you can ensure that individuals with disabilities can easily access and interact with your content. Here, we’ll take a look at each principle in more detail:


Perceivability focuses on presenting information and user interface components in ways that are easily discernible by all users. This principle incorporates providing text alternatives for non-text content, such as images, to ensure accessibility for individuals with visual impairments.

It also emphasises the importance of distinguishing web content by differentiating foreground and background elements, catering to users with visual challenges. By offering content that can be presented in various formats without losing its essential information or structure, perceivability plays a crucial role in ensuring equal access and usability for all individuals.


Operable guidelines focus on providing accessible pathways for interaction, making websites usable for those with varying physical abilities. To ensure operability in web design, prioritise making all functionality accessible via keyboard or alternative input methods for effective navigation and interaction. This particularly benefits users with motor disabilities.

By emphasising keyboard accessibility and alternative input methods, individuals who may have challenges using a traditional mouse can still navigate websites effortlessly.


Improving the understandability of web content is a fundamental aspect of web accessibility, focusing on clarity and simplicity for all users.

When creating content consider the following:

  • Clear language: Using clear and concise language ensures that information is easily understood by all users, including those with cognitive disabilities.
  • Simple navigation: Implementing straightforward navigation structures helps users easily find and access the content they’re looking for.
  • Plain language: Avoiding technical jargon and using plain language promotes inclusivity and ensures content is accessible to a wider audience.
  • Instructions and error messages: Clear instructions and error messages that are easy to comprehend help users recover from any issues they may encounter.

As part of our web accessibility services, britweb can help your business write accessible content.


When focusing on the understandability of web content for all users, it’s important to recognise that robustness is a key principle of web accessibility. According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), robustness ensures that web content can be effectively accessed by a wide range of user agents, including assistive technologies.

This means that as technologies evolve, robust web content remains accessible, providing longevity and adaptability. By following robust guidelines, websites can sustain accessibility across various platforms and devices.

Common barriers to web accessibility

Barriers to web accessibility impact individuals with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities. Issues such as a lack of alt text for images can hinder those with visual impairments, while inaccessible audio content may pose challenges for individuals with auditory disabilities. Difficulties in navigating websites or interacting with forms can particularly affect users with motor or cognitive impairments.

It is essential to address these barriers for an inclusive online experience.


When designing websites, overlooking common visual accessibility barriers can impede users who have a visual impairment from accessing online content effectively. Here are some key points to consider for your web pages:

  • Low colour contrast: Ensure there’s sufficient contrast between text and background colours to aid users with low vision in reading content easily.
  • Small font sizes: Use legible font sizes and styles to enhance readability, especially for users with visual impairments.
  • Reliance on colour: Avoid relying solely on colour to convey information, as this can be challenging for colour-blind users.
  • Alt text for images: Include descriptive alt text for images to provide context and information for users relying on screen readers.


Auditory barriers encompass a range of obstacles, including the absence of captions for videos, reliance on audio-only content, and inaccessible audio controls.

To enhance accessibility for those with hearing impairments, provide transcripts for audio content. Ensuring compatibility with screen readers can further improve user experience. Implementing solutions such as sign language interpretation for videos can also play a vital role in making online content more accessible.


Motor disabilities present unique challenges, particularly in the ability to utilise traditional input methods like a mouse or keyboard. People with motor disabilities may struggle with interacting with web content, but there is assistive technology to enhance their browsing experience:

  • Alternative input devices: People with motor impairments often rely on alternative input devices such as switches or joysticks to navigate websites more effectively.
  • Keyboard navigation: These allow movement through a website without the need for precise mouse control.
  • Voice commands: Voice recognition software enables users to navigate websites hands-free.


Cognitive limitations, such as learning disabilities, can make it hard for users to comprehend complex information, follow instructions, and remember details while browsing the web.

Websites that don’t cater to these challenges may have confusing layouts, difficult-to-understand content, and distractions. It’s crucial for websites to use plain language, provide clear instructions, maintain consistent layouts, and minimise distractions.

A woman uses a tablet.

How to implement web accessibility

To effectively implement web accessibility, a helpful starting point is to conduct an accessibility audit of your current website to assess what it does well, and what can be improved.

Here are some other steps to help you ensure your website is accessible:

  • Optimise your site for screen readers
  • Follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Regularly test and update your website
  • Team training.

You should also consider working with experienced web designers and digital marketing professionals with the knowledge and skills to implement an effective accessibility strategy for your website.

Benefit from an accessible website with britweb

At britweb, we’re passionate about creating accessible sites and all of our staff have had accessibility training. Adept at designing and building accessible websites, we’re also experienced in website accessibility audits, which allow us to retroactively make your current website more accessible. As part of our accessibility work, we aim to comply with WCAG 2.1 AA.

Based in Horsham, West Sussex, we work with local, national, and international businesses, offering world-class standards and personable support. Contact our team today to discuss your project, whether you require an accessible web build or web accessibility guidance on your existing website, including navigation, alt text, and content.

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