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Why digital accessibility is important: Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2023

Hands typing on a laptop.
Katie Lowe headshot.
Katie Lowe

Digital Content Producer

What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day?

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is an annual awareness day to get everyone talking and thinking about digital access and inclusion. This year, Global Accessibility Awareness Day falls on Thursday 18 May. It aims to create a culture of digital accessibility and ensure digital product development includes accessibility as a core requirement.

Why is digital accessibility important?

In the UK, 1 in 4 people have a disability, which is a total of 16 million people according to the Family Resources survey 2021/22. Someone with a disability will need and want to access digital services online and receive the same level of accessibility as other users. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Scope estimates that 49% of working age adults feel excluded from society because of their condition or impairment and disabled people are over 50% more likely to face barriers to accessing digital and online services than non-disabled people. 

By effectively excluding people with different accessibility needs from using digital content and services, they’re not only unable to participate but organisations and companies are losing out of thousands of pounds of lost income. Research has shown that the online spending power of people with access needs is around £24.8 billion per year to UK business.

How can you tell if a website is accessible?

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a standard for web content accessibility. The guidelines provide a reference to ensure that web developers and designers are ensuring that their websites meet accessibility standards across the board. Websites can be checked against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to demonstrate how accessible they really are.

How can websites be more digitally accessible?

Some common disabilities or impairments include: visual, hearing, cognitive and motor. There are many ways to improve accessibility online for these specific disabilities: 

  • People with visual impairments may need access to alternative text descriptions for images and the functionality to navigate a website with a keyboard instead of a mouse. 
  • People with hearing impairments may need captions on videos.
  • People with cognitive impairments may find clear layouts and navigation on websites and the use of plain English useful. 
  • People with motor impairments may need the functionality to use alternative keyboards on a website. 

Ensuring a website has these key features reduces the barriers that can prevent people with different accessibility needs from accessing digital content.

Our commitment to digital accessibility

We’re determined to ensure that people with disabilities have easy access to our digital services. We’ve been committed to supporting people who have been excluded because of their circumstances since CAP was founded in 1996 and this extends to our online services.

How we’re making our digital platforms more accessible

When we launched our new website in July 2022, we were clear in our digital accessibility goals. In our blog, we explained how we made sure our colours, fonts and contrasts were as easy as possible to read and in line with web accessibility guidelines, used plain English and included built-in accessibility function amongst other accessibility features.

Since then we’ve created thorough digital accessibility guidelines for use across our organisation. We’ve been communicating the importance of digital accessibility across CAP to ensure we each take responsibility and making sure we’re adopting a joined-up’ approach. We’ve also updated our email templates: improving accessibility with better colour contrasts, font sizes and removal of italics for quotes.

However, we know we’ve still got a way to go. In 2023/24, we want to make sure we’re constantly improving our digital accessibility and therefore we’ve created a plan to put this into action. Our plan includes things like improving our video accessibility, improving the accessibility of documents such as PDFs we provide on our website, standardising our alt-text descriptions and annually reviewing accessibility across our digital platforms. 

We want to make sure our digital accessibility is improved at CAP too. We’re going to start by providing written notes to attendees after meetings and improving the accessibility of some of our internal events. We will be providing further training for our organisation to ensure digital accessibility best practice is a priority.

If you want to know more about the technical stuff, like guidelines we’ve followed and how we’re committed to improving accessibility, take a look at our accessibility statement.

Do you have any suggestions for us?

If you see something on our site that you think we could improve, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch by sending our Web Development team an email at [email protected].

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Ruth, Co-Debt Centre Manager

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