COVID-19 has created a ‘new normal’ for many people. This involves spending much more time at home and relying on websites to provide access to the outside world; often without the assistance and support of friends and family. Surface Impression is helping the cultural and heritage sectors reach people at home with innovations including online exhibitions, at the same time continuing to focus on the experience of all possible audiences and website users.
Now more than ever it is essential that websites are as user friendly and accessible as possible – people need to find what they are looking for quickly and intuitively without getting frustrated.
At Surface Impression, we take accessibility seriously. Many of our clients are disability groups and charities, and our experience is reinforced by working with disabled users with access needs, rather than seeing access as a ‘tick box’ exercise. We continually explore ways of making our products as accessible to as many users as possible, according to different needs, preferences and in different contexts. We have established good practice around using the built-in access tools on different devices, including smart phones and tablets. We are all passionate about accessibility, and our work is overseen by a dedicated accessibility specialist, Shelley Boden, who we have worked with for over a decade.
Over this time we have built up knowledge of the huge range of advice, regulations and guidelines that have emerged from various industry, governmental and NGO bodies. We build our sites and apps with reference to the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium’s) WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). We are experienced in ensuring client sites comply with regulations that affect public sector sites in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe and the EU as part of the Web Accessibility Directive.
At the heart of all of this, the user is central to everything we do, and we regularly test our sites and consult with an access panel of users. Our access knowledge is widely recognized by the cultural and non-profit sectors, and our experience ranges from providing consultancy and training for organisations such as the National Archives, CyMAL (Welsh Museums Archives and Libraries council), BBC, University of Brighton and University of Leicester. Recently Shelley worked as the digital accessibility consultant for RNIB’s Sensing Culture, advising the Oxford Natural History Museum, Lewes Castle, the Beaney Museum and the Conan Doyle Collection at Portsmouth Archives on ways to increase access for blind and partially sighted visitors. This culminated in our presenting at conference and building the site to share resources with other museum professionals.
Every aspect of websites and digital products need to be accessible: from all aspects of the content, to the design, to the photography. We strongly encourage all our clients to prioritize accessibility in relation to all their digital products, old and new. We are keen to discuss any ideas for increasing the accessibility of your site, to reach all your users on all their devices.
Disability Arts Online (DAO) was set up to share disability arts and culture with as wide an audience as possible, supporting disabled artists by getting the word out about the fantastic art being produced by artists within the sector.
Commissioned by the British Council, Disability Arts International promotes the work of disabled artists, disabled-led companies and inclusive arts organisations. It also aims to share the ways arts organisations are increasing access to the arts for disabled people as audiences and visitors.
VocalEyes help arts organisations identify and remove barriers for access and inclusion for blind and partially sighted people. They deliver around 160-180 live audio-described performances in theatres every year, and provide a range of supporting services to cultural organisations.
Get in touch with us
Reach out to our team to learn more about how you can provide an inclusive and accessible experience for your audience:
UK / Europe
Surface Impression Ltd.
Canada / USA
Dr. Amy Hetherington
Surface Impression (Canada) Ltd.