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Why the web needs symbols

The Internet has made a wealth of knowledge available, but still excludes a huge number of people from accessing that information. Everyone has a right to access information, but some people are unable to do so because of physical impairments, learning disabilities or language barriers,.

Technology and new official guidelines for website creators have made great progress in supporting people with physical and sensory impairments, but content itself can often fall short of being accessible. Symbols can make information much easier to understand. The addition of visual support means that visitors to a website do not have to rely entirely on the written word.

What does 'accessible' mean?

In this context, 'accessible' means making information easier to understand by using clear, straightforward language and supporting it with symbols. Easily understandable content is a powerful addition to common features such as providing speech or high-contrast alternative colour schemes for visually impaired users. Symbols help illustrate the meaning of new or unfamiliar words.

How do symbol websites work?

The easiest way to understand how symbols can be used on a website is to look at which has been created specifically for symbol users, with symbols and photographs supporting the text:


This websites shows how existing text can be transformed and made accessible to a much wider audience, regardless of age, ability, language or culture.


Widgit's plans for the future

  • To provide straightforward and easy-to-implement tools that use symbols to make existing websites more accessible without compromising design or layout. See Widgit's new web tool Point
  • To enable website creators to add symbol-supported content to their websites quickly and easily. See Widgit's new web tool Insite
  • To provide online tools for symbol users to create their own content.


What can you do to make your website more accessible?

  • Ensure that your website still makes sense when viewed in plain text.
  • Provide high-contrast and alternative colour schemes to help visually impaired and dyslexic users.
  • Provide or support text-to-speech.
  • Use clear and simple language.
  • Use symbols to support text for readers with different levels of reading ability or language comprehension.