Compliance with accessibility rules

Websites used to be made with fixed designs, fonts, font sizes and colours. That made them inaccessible to the visually impaired.

Then came a set of international standards (available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission)  that mean all websites can be shrunk and enlarged, read out loud by screen reading software such as Jaws (see video), and automatically remove  problematic colours or moving visuals to suit different users.

While most of these standards concern web developers, some rules affect writers. In the main these are:

  • Putting sub-headings in correct heading format (not just bold) so users can scan the page electronically for sub-headings
  • Writing “alternative attribute” description of photos, tables and graphs – as short as possible with key words first (just the person’s name, or “landscape” for a country scene, or “car” for a generic vehicle)
  • Ensuring links that open new windows warn that they do this (either every link needs this warning or group all such links under a heading that says “Links (new windows)”

NB: make sure you comply with copyright law on your use of photos etc.


Whealie is the trademarked nickname of award-winning freelance journalist Chris Wheal. Follow @whealie on Twitter Wheal's Business website is He sometimes blogs at He's on Facebook: And LinkedIn: Flickr: Instagram: YouTube: Vimeo:

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