FTSE 100 websites breaking disability rules

FTSE 100 websites breaking disability rules

Disabled users face problems navigating the sites of the UK’s largest firms, according to research

Three-quarters of the largest UK firms break website accessibility rules on their home pages, according to a new survey.

The research was conducted by website design firm Nomensa, which counts British Gas and Local Directgov among customers. It found that 75 out of 99 sites of companies on a recent roster of the FTSE 100 failed the minimum requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative. The initiative aims to make the web accessible for people with disabilities.

The most common failing was pages not being expandable or able to be contracted, potentially causing problems for users who wear spectacles or accessing the web on devices other than a PC. Sixty home pages contained images with no text-based labels for visually-impaired people. Other common problems included pop-up windows and poorly implemented list boxes.

Nomensa managing director Simon Norris said that many firms begin with good intentions and policies but then let them slip. “There are two points about accessibility - getting there and then maintaining it,” he said.

Legal action can be taken against companies with websites that fail accessibility tests under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Conversely, firms that do an outstanding job of demonstrating accessibility can gain plaudits. The Tate galleries’ Tate Online site recently won an award for its iMap art resource for visually impaired people.