Brighton Techie Brek: Online Accessibility

NetSquared's picture

Notes from Tech from Brighton's April 22 online meeting.  
See the shared Google Docs notes.

Techie Brek - 22 April 2020

Online Accessibility 

Everyone is suddenly trying to access essential information on our websites! How do we make sure that our digital services are accessible and can be used by everyone?


David Scurr - Citizens Online / Digital Brighton & Hove 

Ellie Hale - CAST/Catalyst


  • Tom Lavis - Huxley Digital

  • Fran Barton - Citizens Online

  • Mark Walker - AbilityNet

Questions (add your questions here)

  • How can I check if my website is accessible? 
  • Is anyone aware of any user testing groups/websites where you can do live/remote user testing? Specifically with users who have partial sight or colour blindness etc
  • Do you find a lot of people are using browse aloud?
  • I'd be keen to hear any advice for making sites accessible to people for whom English isn't their first language? - e.g. BSL users and people from other countries with basic English skills. 
  • Checking language complexity level and readability?
  • Can you have subtitles on zoom?
  • How do you tackle accessible PDFs?

Answers, useful links and points(add any resources you’d like to share)

Tom: Think about putting forward a business case for accessibility: How is spending this time and money making accessibility changes to a website going to help a business grow? 

3 useful tips:

  1. Find quick tools online that tell you your current accessibility standard, like Wave:
  2. Remember colour contrasts, e.g. use Contrast checker (though Wave has this as well)
  3. User test your site - it shows you how people generally behave and helps you experience issues alongside someone

Fran: Accessibility can be very complicated... but it can also be quite simple! There's a good reason why some people are accessibility experts - it's a craft. However, it can be quite simple to cover the simple things:

  • Have a well-structured page in terms of the HTML mark-up (headers, paragraphs etc.)
  • Include "alt text" on images so that anyone visually impaired will be able to get the same info they could’ve got from an image through text instead
  • A lot of people with disabilities will have their own software, like screen readers, but there are others you can use on your site in addition:
    • Browse Aloud plug-in from Text Help reads the site out - a useful option, see an example here of the plug-in in action. 
    • is another site to test accessibility standards
  • Definitely test! There’s nothing like having someone else testing your site for understanding how well it works for them. In a time of lockdown, there are some good remote testing tools.

Watch this Citizens Online's youtube video on Digital Accessibility for top 15 tips::

Mark: It’s not just about websites! Remember to make your documents accessible 

  • Google Docs automatically checks for accessibility
  • Office 365 has an accessibility checker button
  • In Powerpoint you can enable captions/subtitles to have live text while you speak
  • Microsoft has an inclusive design toolkit
  • AbilityNet runs a conference called Tech Share Pro where you can find loads of great content and training
  • AbilityNet are putting on a series of webinars including free training on digital accessibility, check them out

See Mark’s slides on Accessibility tips. 


Accessible copy:

User testing

  • Build up a core group of users who you can test with informally so you can highlight the most common problems (you can pay them, e.g. £50 for their time)
  • Userbrain is a service that offers general usability testing 
  • Specialist companies can help you test with people with physical impairments like colour blindness, visual impairment - but these are usually paid services
  • A Catalyst blog on user testing in a time of COVID
  • Connect with local digital inclusion networks like Digital Brighton & Hove to get help from local community organisations
  • Possability People in Brighton provide a user testing service for people with disabilities 


  • Sign Video and Signly are specialists in live sign language interpreting alongside live events

Lots of useful advice across various aspects of accessibility on the Government Digital Service blog. Their posters about designing for different types of needs are particularly good.

Future events/training/support