***Webcredible Creates Accessible Website for Postwatch, the UK Watchdog for Postal Services***

LONDON, England: Postwatch (http://www.postwatch.co.uk), the UK watchdog for postal services, today announced its new fully accessible website. With the increased publicity of its work, the Postwatch website has seen a large increase in traffic over the past few months. The new website was formed after consultation with, and development by, Webcredible (http://www.webcredible.co.uk), a company that specialises in web accessibility and usability.

Unlike the vast majority of websites, the main content of each page on the new Postwatch website is at the top of the HTML document and the navigation is placed underneath. Blind Internet users utilizing screen readers (that read the content of each web page aloud) can therefore access the content immediately. Before the content begins, they are also given the opportunity to skip to the navigation, enabling them to easily move around the page.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the new website. With our diverse user base, it is essential that everyone can access it,” says Daryl Barrett, External Relations Manager of Postwatch. “Not only does the website aim to conform to the highest standards of accessibility but it is also designed in a way that reflects our brand image.”

The new website aims to conform to level AAA of the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines. The W3C is the Internet governing body and its Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines are regarded by governments and accessibility professionals as the most important accessibility criterion. Level AAA is the highest possible level of accessibility a website can achieve.

The usability needs of non-disabled visitors were also a major consideration in the design. When a site visitor prints a page from the website navigation, formatting and images disappear and the page prints perfectly on paper. Page download time has additionally been significantly improved.

Postwatch was keen to avoid creating a separate text-only version and used the expertise of accessibility and usability specialists Webcredible.

“Creating a separate text-only version is the worst thing a company can do when it designs a website,” says Trenton Moss, Managing Director of Webcredible. “Not only does it marginalise blind and disabled web users by segregating them from non-disabled users but it can also be costly and time-consuming to implement.”

As a non-profit organisation, Postwatch is hoping that their new website sends out a message to other organisations, namely that a fully accessible website can incorporate an organisation’s branding.

“Web accessibility is not rocket science,” continues Moss. “It is far easier to implement than most organisations believe and needn’t place any limitations on the design of a website.”

About Postwatch

Postwatch is the consumer watchdog for postal services. Postwatch acts as the voice of the consumer in all postal matters, ensuring that customers get the best possible service at realistic prices. Visit http://www.postwatch.co.uk for more information.

About Webcredible

Webcredible (http://www.webcredible.co.uk) is a web usability and accessibility consultancy, working with a number of organisations to ensure their websites are user-friendly and legally compliant. Webcredible’s ground-breaking research articles have been featured on over 100 websites and in numerous off-line magazines.

Published on: 12:00AM on 29th June 2004