The presence of an accessibility statement or logo on a website does not necessarily give an accurate picture of that website’s accessibility according to research conducted by Professor Helen Petrie, Director of Research at London-based User Experience consultancy Designed for All.

The research found that out of 500 websites, 40 (8%) had an accessibility statement or logo. However, when 20 of these 40 “accessible” sites were inspected only 6 passed basic accessibility tests. Indeed, 6 other sites were found to be making claims about accessibility conformance beyond what they actually achieved. Only 30% of the “accessible” sites examined in the recent research were making accurate claims about accessibility.

“A company’s accessibility statement is a reflection of its values towards disabled people. People’s trust will be affected if a company makes a public statement that is not reflected in how it actually behaves,” suggested Professor Petrie.

“This research does not mean that website owners are purposefully misleading people”, said Professor Petrie. “Difficulties interpreting accessibility guidelines and following best-practices when websites are updated can lead to accessibility problems creeping in. But accessibility statements need to be accurate if organisations are to develop trust with their disabled customers. After all, disabled people have a spending power of £50 billion a year.”

Designed for All suggests an “AAA-Plan” for getting on top of accessibility:
- Assess the accessibility of your website with disabled users
- Align your resources to meet specified targets
- Act comprehensively to meet your targets and maintain them

“Making your website accessible has tremendous benefits to everyone, not just disabled people”, said Professor Petrie. “Our research shows that an accessible website can be 35% more usable for everyone – that sort of usability gain can really give companies a competitive advantage, especially those who rely on their website as a revenue channel. That’s the kind of results we try to give our clients.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Methodology
250 UK and international financial websites (e.g. banks, insurance companies, credit card suppliers) and 250 UK-oriented e-commerce websites (e.g. travel, CD/DVD retailers, electronic goods retailers) were sampled. Those sites with accessibility statements or logos were evaluated against the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Version 1). The full results were presented at the “Accessible Design in the Digital World” conference held in Dundee 23-25 August 2005 (See: http://ewic.bcs.org/conferences/2005/accessible/session5/paper2.htm)

About Designed for All
Designed for All is a London-based consultancy specialising in website accessibility and usability, designing effective user experiences. We help make online technology easier for everyone to use. We work with organisations of all sizes and from all industry sectors, particularly blue-chip multinationals and government units. Professor Helen Petrie is Director of Research at Designed for All and Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at the University of York.

We provide a variety of services to ensure that websites meet the needs of those who use them. We develop policies, identity users’ needs, design user interfaces, conduct accessibility testing and usability testing, and provide training courses -- all with the aim of maximizing the user experience.

Improving usability and accessibility can increase your sales and customer satisfaction resulting in increased customer loyalty and referrals. Within your organisation it can reduce customer support costs and improve software development efficiency. With our help you can reach more customers and maximise your website as a revenue channel.

Contact
Fraser Hamilton (Director)
Designed for All Ltd
Tel: +44 (0)790 515 2893
Email: fraser@designedforall.com
www.designedforall.com

Published on: 12:00AM on 12th January 2006