In the past, accessibility often wasn’t considered until after websites were already built. They would then be adjusted to meet accessibility standards, leading to extra costs and less-than-ideal results. Retrofitting accessibility features onto existing websites often caused compromises and inefficiencies.

On the contrary, when accessibility is made a priority right from the beginning of website development, the benefits are numerous. By integrating accessibility principles into the foundational structure of a website, developers can create a digital space that is inclusive for all users, including those with disabilities. Additionally, building accessibility into the initial design phase makes the development process smoother, reducing the need for extensive adjustments later on.

Mark Mitchell, Digital Project Manager for Shaw Trust, a UK-based charity focused on aiding people in overcoming barriers to work and independence, has learned from the mistakes of neglecting accessibility in past projects. Working with Accessibility Services has shown him the importance of prioritising accessibility from the start for all future projects.

“Including accessibility in the earlier stages of the Shaw Trust website project became much smoother by collaborating with Accessibility Services. Their expertise and dedication ensured a smooth process,” says Mark Mitchell. “Clear communication and a deep understanding of accessibility standards meant we could create a website that’s compliant and user-friendly for everyone.”

From a website perspective, prioritising accessibility brings numerous benefits. Firstly, it enhances usability for all users, improving navigation, text descriptions, and overall user experience. Accessible websites also tend to rank higher in search engine results, as search algorithms favour usability and accessibility.

Secondly, prioritising accessibility expands a website’s reach and audience. By ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies like screen readers and voice recognition software, organisations can reach a broader demographic, including those previously excluded from accessing their content or services.

Moreover, accessible websites are future-proof and adaptable to evolving technologies and user needs. Adhering to established accessibility standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), lays the groundwork for scalability and interoperability, reducing the risk of obsolescence and costly rework in the future.

A Conclusion About The Need To Prioritise Digital Accessibility

In today’s digital landscape, ensuring website accessibility isn’t just a legal requirement—it’s a moral imperative. By embracing accessibility as a core design principle, we can create a more equitable digital environment where barriers are removed, and opportunities are accessible to all. As Mark Mitchell’s experience shows, the journey to a more accessible web starts with a proactive approach that prioritises inclusion from the outset. Learn from his past mistakes and involve Accessibility Services and accessibility from the beginning to ensure a smoother and more inclusive development process.