Beginners Guide to Intranet Accessibility

by Amy Lewis on June 24, 2016

shutterstock_intranet_design_blog.jpg

Nearly 1 in 5 people (7 million) in Great Britain have a disability according to the Disabled Living Foundation. Intranet accessibility is therefore something that should be a core part of the delivery of your intranet software. Every employee within your organisation needs to have the same intranet experience regardless of any disabilities they may have. I thought it would be useful to provide some insight into intranet accessibility and the benefits of ensuring your intranet is accessible by everyone within your business. If you would like to discuss your intranet software needs, contact our intranet experts, book a demo or attend one of our free showcase events.

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative summarise the needs of users with impairments. It’s important to point out that when considering intranet accessibility, don’t forget to include the needs of your older workforce as they may have impairments too. W3C summarise disabilities into 4 main areas:

1) Vision
Including reduced contrast sensitivity, colour perception, and near-focus, making it difficult to read web pages

2) Physical
Including reduced dexterity and fine motor control, making it difficult to use a mouse and click small targets

3) Hearing
Including difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds and separating sounds, making it difficult to hear podcasts and other audio, especially when there is background music

4) Cognitive

Including reduced short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, and being easily distracted, making it difficult to follow navigation and complete online tasks

Ensuring your intranet is accessible is a legal requirement and there are lots of resources available to guide you to the relevant laws such as: Out-Law.com and Legislation.gov.uk. The best way to know how accessible your intranet is to get it audited and there are numerous organisations that offer this service.

In broad terms here are some suggested accessibility best practices for intranet content for you to think about in terms of your own intranets. How accessible is your content?

  1. Don't rely on colour as a navigational tool or as the sole way to differentiate items
  2. Describe meaningful images in text and make sure Images include Alt text
  3. Functionality should be accessible through the mouse and keyboard and be tagged to worked with voice-control systems
  4. Explain charts and graphs
  5. If you have a video on your site, you must provide visual captions and transcripts of the content
  6. Sites should have a skip navigation feature

Accessibility involves more than great intranet software, it relies on contributors thinking about the accessibility of their content. I have included some resources at the end of this blog that you might find useful. Ultimately if your intranet is accessible to everyone within your business, there are far reaching benefits.

Whilst being legally compliant, an accessible intranet primarily means that all of your employees are being treated equally and everyone can access the intranet, making it more usable. Publishing simple accessibility guidelines for intranet content are a great way of educating everyone on how to make their content accessible.

Benefits of an accessible intranet include:

  1. The intranet is often also a portal to other internal systems and if this is accessible it means it’s much easier for all staff to access everything they need to.
  2. Just by being accessible you are sending positive messages to your staff about your commitment to treating everyone equally.
  3. Overall user experience will increase as everyone will be able to access all of the information and perform tasks.
  4. Productivity may increase as a result of everyone being able to access the information they need to when they need to.

I hope you have found this blog useful. If you are planning a new intranet it’s a great time to speak with your chosen supplier about accessibility so that it is central to your new intranet software. Accessibility can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Make accessibility part of your overall intranet communication strategy so that everyone within your business is aware of it. Get in touch with us at SORCE to find out how we can help. I’d love to know your thoughts on this please share your thoughts.

Useful Resources:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disability-facts-and-figures/disability-facts-and-figures

http://www.dlf.org.uk/content/key-facts

https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/accessibility

Topics: intranet accessibility