Accessible Church Websites
... making your website available to all
Why bother making your site accessible?
Firstly, it would be incredibly thoughtless and rude to not care enough to enable visitors with impairments to find out about your church. Secondly, from October 2004 under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) it happens to be a legal requirement (in the UK) that websites should be accessible. There are also legal requirements in the US, Canada and most of the western world. We believe the first reason alone is enough to warrant ensuring your church site is freely available to all.
Back in April 2004 the Disability Rights Commission carried out an extensive formal study into web accessibility. They found that of the 1000 sampled websites only 19% passed the very minimum standards for disabled access – and that was just looking at the home pages! Things have improved enormously but there are still a lot of websites that fail.
What do I have to do?
For those of you creating a website from scratch you will find below some helpful hints to get you on your way. By default, sites developed with Church123 are very friendly for visitors using accessibility devices (such as screen readers and Braille Internet devices). We have provided a list of links to organisations with additional (and in some cases authoritative) information on this important subject.
Do not have the following on your websites:
- Macromedia FLASH (menus and main content)
Although FLASH can be fun, and may look great, if your site is built in FLASH and has no alternative navigation then very few visually impaired visitors will be able to use it!
Where possible create plain text menus and not generated by code to ensure that all users can access them. If using code make sure it is standards compliant so modern accessibility devices can access it
- Pop Down or Pop Out Menus
This type of menu normally relies on code and can be difficult for those with limited motion control. If using these menus consider providing alternative text navigation options, such as a text-only site map
Frames can cause confusion for some accessibility devices
- Highly Animated Graphics
Fast animations can be distracting for average visitors, but for some users they make a site unusable
- Graphics as links
All graphics on the page should have an ALT tag (in Church123 this is the image description). By providing a meaningful description even those without sight can build up a mental map of the page
- Instructions that rely on colours
For example, don’t say "click the green button to continue"
- Low contrasts
For people with certain visual impairments to use your church site ensure that appropriate contrasts exist. For example don’t use dark orange text on a red background
The above tips are the very basics you should follow. You can still create a good looking website whilst enabling disabled visitors access to your information.
Where can I find out more?
These links will help you understand more about your responsibilities and how you can check your church website:
- Through the Roof
This excellent UK charity can advise on all areas of accessibility for churches.
- World Wide Web consortium (W3C - Web Accessibility Initiative)
This is a fairly technical site and not for the faint hearted. Note, this is widely considered to be the worldwide reference on accessibility issues for the web.
- W3C list of evaluation tools
More tools that may also help accessibility testing.