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Accessibility

Websites must be as accessible as possible for all users, including people with disabilities. Badly designed and implemented websites can make it difficult or impossible for disabled people to use the internet, including those using assistive technologies, for example, text-to-speech screenreaders. Other factors include legal requirements, pressure from government policy and simple good practice in the commissioning and supply of websites. Accessibility should be 'built in' rather than be regarded as an extra layer of usability for a minority of users, not least because accessible websites are easier for everyone to use. Sites should be built to the WCAG 2.0 global web standard.

Headline Results

KEY CC = County Council, SD = Shire district, LB = London borough, MD = Metropolitan district, EU = English unitary, WU = Welsh unitary, SU = Scottish unitary, NI = Northern Ireland district

All Councils CC SD Met EU SU WU LB
Accessibility (% Pass) 43% 52% 36% 47% 46% 69% 41% 45%

All councils (407) were tested for accessibility using four tests. Three tasks from the main survey for each website (one on a mobile device), with the fourth test being on a random selection of the website’s top pages. Tasks tested for different council types were:

Counties and single tier

  • Report street lighting failure (mobile)
  • Apply for blue badge
  • Find out how to register a death

Shire districts and Northern Ireland

  • Report missed bin (mobile)
  • Find out how to vote

Shire Districts

  • Report bonfire problem

Northern Ireland

  • Find out how to register a death

The standard

The Digital Accessibility Centre tests websites for Better connected using WCAG 2.0 as the reference. Sites rated satisfactory or very good overall by DAC pass the Better connected standard. In 2015, 43% of all councils did so.

Testing

14 design and coding best practices were covered in the assessment:

  • unique and informative page titles
  • good heading structure
  • present and functioning visible skip links
  • all-important content reachable by keyboard navigation
  • visible focus indicators on links and form elements
  • clear labels and instructions for forms
  • meaningful links in context
  • appropriate text alternatives for images
  • sufficient colour contrast
  • ability to resize text to 200% without loss of content
  • avoidance of movement on pages
  • no auto-starting for audio or video with sound
  • no flashing content
  • accessible downloadable ‘non-html’ documents

Each criterion was then assigned points and a weight based on the severity and/or frequency of occurrence. The final score for each test was calculated by combining the results for the 14 criteria.

Final Scoring

For each website DAC calculated the final score as a combination of the scores given to each of the four tests (including the top-level pages assessment):

Very good (3): sites needed to obtain a score of 3 for at least three of the tests, and 2 for the remaining test.

Satisfactory (2): a website with three tests scoring 3, but 0 or 1 for the remaining test or three tests with 2 and a score other than 0 for the remaining test.

Poor (1): any combination of three tasks scoring 1, regardless of the result of the fourth test.

Inaccessible (0): three tests scoring 0.

Results

Test/Assessment Pass Rate
 
County Councils
Report street lighting failure 26%
Apply for a blue badge 78%
Find out how to register a death 81%
Top level pages 89%
Overall 52%
Shire districts
Report missed bin (mobile) 31%
Report bonfire problem 30%
Find out how to vote 76%
Top level pages 69%
Overall 35%
Single tier councils*
Report street lighting failure 36%
Apply for a blue badge 59%
Find out how to register a death 81%
Top level pages 73%
Overall 50%
Nothern Ireland (one council tested)
Report missed bin (mobile) 100%
Report bonfire problem 50%
Find out how to vote 50%
Top level pages 100%
Overall 50%
All councils summary
Task 1 from mobile devices 33%
Task 2 from desktop 46%
Task 3 from desktop 78%
Top level pages 72%
Overall 43%

Results 2015 vs 2014

Test 2014 2015 Difference
1 34% 33% 1%
2 35% 46% 11%
3 41% 78% 37%
4 52% 72% 20%
Overall 26% 43% 17%

The results indicate a significant improvement in performance since 2014. Results for task 1 (the mobile task) are nearly the same, task 2 shows an improvement, task 3 shows a significant improvement, and the top-level page test has significantly improved.

Results commentary

176 councils (43%) were rated as satisfactory, ie having few serious and practical accessibility problems, compared with 105 councils (26%) in 2014. However, only three sites out of this total were rated very good.

Seven sites (2%) were rated inaccessible and another 225 sites (55%) were rated poor. The average performance of the two mobile tasks (34% satisfactory or above) was much lower than the average of the two desktop tasks (62%).

The performance of accessible websites in the rest of the Better connected testing was compared with that of the rest. Accessible websites perform 41% better than the others, with 3.5 successful tasks in the main survey as compared with 2.5 in the case of inaccessible site. In a second comparison, overall reviewer rating, councils that passed the accessibility standard performed 23% better than those that failed.

The most common reasons for failure of the accessibility standard from desktops were:

  • lack of clear labels for form fields and/or associated controls
  • downloadable ‘non-html’ documents being inaccessible
  • no visible working skip links
  • poor heading structure
  • moving content without a means to pause or stop
  • insufficient colour contrast

and from mobiles:

  • lack of mobile alternative option for the desktop site
  • lack of clear labels for form fields and/or associated controls
  • lack of a logical reading sequence
  • insufficient colour contrast

Councils achieving a rating of very good overall for accessibility

  • Preston City
  • Staffordshire CC
  • Wealden DC

Accessibility reports

Each council that subscribes to Better connected gets its own accessibility report compiled by the Digital Accessiblity Centre. Reports can be downloaded from https://khub.net/group/socitm-insight/library

Further information:

  • See DVD A world denied: web accessibility – the movie (Socitm with AbilityNet)
  • See Better connected 2015 for summary of survey results
  • Results of individual assessments appear on the pages of councils that subscribe to Better connected
  • The British standard: BS 8878:2010 Web accessibility code of practice.
  • Visit www.digitalaccessibilitycentre.org/ ‘to see how we can help you achieve ‘real life’ accessibility status for your online products and ensure compliance with WCAG2.’
  • Visit www.abilitynet.org.uk/icomply for advice about compliance.Chart 7.35

 

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