Sector is 'failing to deliver online'

Accessibility on charity websites is "shamefully low", according to new analysis of the top 120 charities' online operations.

Not one charity assessed in the latest IT benchmarking survey carried out by voluntary sector new media consultancy iConcertina Creative conformed to its full set of accessibility criteria, which included aspects such as user control, for judging how easily site users can navigate sites and obtain useful information.

Only 43 per cent of charities' homepages met the basic accessibility requirements, and two of the 120 organisations analysed met none of the criteria. In addition, 88 per cent of the charities failed to comply with HTML coding criteria.

Although these results represent a 14 per cent year-on-year improvement, iConcertina had expected more significant change.

"Accessibility continues to be the Achilles' heel of charity websites," said Adrian Melrose, managing director of iConcertina. "Progress is slower than we hoped and expected. With the continued high level of coverage on accessibility across all mediums, it is surprising that charities have not taken up the challenge.

"The fact that no single site met all the criteria is worrying. If individuals feel that a site isn't designed for their use, they may begin to question the charity as a whole or simply go away quietly, never to return."

Melrose suggested that websites could improve accessibility by including pages explaining how to use their various site options.

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