Charities failing on website accessibility

A survey of 10 voluntary sector websites has found only one – Cancer Research UK's – gaining a minimum standard of accessibility. The survey was carried out by another charity, computing and disability specialist AbilityNet.

The survey looked at both usability and accessibility with a programme of automated tools as well as a wide range of manual checks. Only sites which meet the basic needs of visitors with a vision impairment, dyslexia or physical problem making mouse use difficult attain three stars and above on AbilityNet's five star scale.

Of the remaining nine sites, two – The National Trust and Age Concern Kingston achieved two stars and the rest – Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation, RNLI, Scotswood Natural Community Garden, The Cave Rescue Organisation and Follifoot Park Disabled Riding Group only scored one star.

The report's author was AbilityNet’s Web Consultancy Manager, Robin Christopherson, himself blind. He said: “The voluntary sector is likely to be targeting a proportionately higher percentage of disabled people amongst its stakeholder groups, which is why these results are of great concern."

He continued: "I believe that there is now almost universal awareness of the issues – but it may be that charities feel less able to identify the skills and resources required. They should know that it needn’t be expensive to address even significant accessibility issues on their sites – and that the business case (even for charities) is overwhelming."