Introduction

First Steps to an Accessible Website (Part 1)

First Steps to an Accessible Website (Part 1)

Directional road signs to Confused, Uncertain, Perplexed, Bewildered, Disoriented, and Unclear.

Web accessibility seems to be a hot topic for many today. That may be due to the rise of legal complaints targeting inaccessible websites or that many companies are realizing that offering their goods and services online is an important aspect of staying competitive and reaching their target market. Whatever the reason for the increased interest in accessible content we find that many are at a loss on where to even begin. This is no surprise because accessibility guidelines can be very technical and often vague. We find that even the most talented developers and designers often get web accessibility wrong.

Part of our goal at Converge Accessibility is to help our customers understand what the guidelines really mean and how to apply them in such a way that accessibility naturally becomes part of the overall lifecycle of your website. Unfortunately for most, this process is rarely quick and can take months or even longer to achieve.

To help you get started, we thought it would be good to provide you a few recommendations to get you on the path to accessible content more quickly and at the same time help to reduce your overall risk exposure to an legal complaint.

Accessibility Statement

One of the first things we recommend for any website is to include an Accessibility Statement that is easily found from your site’s home page. We often find a link to an accessibility statement in the footer of a page close to the link for the site’s Privacy Statement. At a minimum, your Accessibility Statement should easily be found via your site's Search feature.

Providing an Accessibility Statement informs your site’s visitors that you care about accessibility and about them. It also demonstrates your commitment to accessibility and provides your users a way to contact you should they encounter any barriers that prevent them from making use of your site. Optionally, you can also provide information about the current accessibility of your content, thereby demonstrating you are aware of existing issues and your plans to address those issues. It is important to be honest and let your users know where you stand in your accessibility efforts. This can demonstrate your social responsibility and help establish trust with your customers.

What goes into an Accessibility Statement?

Accessibility Statements do not need to be complex or long. An effective basic statement will include:

  • Your organization’s commitment to creating accessible content
  • The accessibility standard your organization is targeting
  • Contact information so users who may need additional assistance can get help

Other optional but useful features of a basic Accessibility Statement are:

  • Including known issues and your plan to address those issues
  • An online form to allow users to easily submit feedback

You can include as much detail as you want in your Accessibility Statement, but it is important to make sure that what you include does not increase your legal exposure risk.
The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative website provides a way to generate an accessibility statement by filling out a few details. This statement generator and can be found at https://www.w3.org/WAI/planning/statements/. It does allow for creating more complex statements which you may not need or want. If you are unsure and need assistance, please let us help!

Coming Up

Thanks for reading! In my next post I will focus on some of the most common and basic accessibility issues that can present a barrier to users and expose your site to those drive-by legal complaints.

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Take a deep breath. Then feel free to reach out to our team when you're ready to discuss your accessibility needs.

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