Everyone needs to know - How to make digital services accessible

Our approach to accessibility.

Consider accessibility at every stage

Think about how you are going to address accessibility at the beginning and at every stage of your project.

It's much harder to make a service accessible if you only address it later on.

Make it the whole team's responsibility

Every member of the team should contribute to making your service inclusive.

You should all:

  • have a good understanding of accessibility
  • observe research with people with access needs
  • follow the guidance for your role

Research with users with access needs

Involve people with access needs, including disabled people, in every round of user research.

Consider cognitive and physical impairments, visual impairments, and temporary or permanent access needs.

Use progressive enhancement

Progressive enhancement is about making your page work with just HTML, before adding anything else like cascading style sheets (CSS) and Javascript. That helps people who live in areas with slow connections or whose devices or browsers fail to load or recognise something.

The NHS.UK frontend library uses JavaScript for "enhancement" - as an extra. It works without it.

Test throughout and consider an independent audit

An expert audit can help find accessibility problems with your service and make sure it meets accessibility requirements. If you run your own tests regularly, the audit should find very little that needs changing.

Would you like to contribute to this guidance?

Please let us know how this has worked for you and, in particular, if you have research findings to share. This will help us improve it for everyone.

Before you start, you will need a GitHub account. It's an open forum where we collect feedback.

If you have any questions, you can message us on Slack. You will need a Slack account if you do not have one. Or you can contact us by email.

Updated: July 2019