Website Accessibility is a Work in Progress

Much of life teaches us that you aren’t necessarily expected to be perfect at everything the first time around. But if you look like you’re trying and actively seek areas to improve, people are often willing to be patient while you learn.

This is especially true when accessibility services are involved.

Companies can face stiff financial and legal penalties for deliberately disregarding ADA rules and refusing to make reasonable accommodations for employees or customers with disabilities. But companies that begin to make efforts in good faith can be encouraged and supported, even if they don’t quite get all details right immediately.

One area where some companies or public agencies sometimes may fall short initially is making sure their websites are accessible to digital visitors, including those who might have physical disabilities or health conditions limiting their ability to see text or navigate with a standard mouse or keyboard.

The ADA does provide a check-list for organizations wanting to update their sites, including how to properly display photos, links, menus or other elements that can be enhanced to make sure they can be fully accessed by any visitors.

If most of the items have already addressed, your organization could be in good shape and may only need a few more fixes to be fully compliant.

More likely, your list could be thought of as more of a starting point, and you may need serious rebuilding. It may even be violating accessibility rules and laws for public agencies.

It could also signal that it’s a perfect time to bring in an expert in website accessibility topics to walk you through the process and figure out strategies to not only get you to say “yes” to all the items on the list, but help you stay compliant in the future.

What we can provide:

  • Current knowledge. This starts with following WCAG 2.1 guidelines, the international standards for web design accessibility.  We provide a thorough audit of your site and indicate what area works and what should be improved. We’ll also offer to make these fixes using current best practices.
  • Part of our quality assurance process includes bringing in a consultant who is legally blind who will access your pages using assistive technology and then document their findings. This hands-on testing goes beyond the ‘fill in the blank’ ADA form to what someone will actually experience.
  • Fixing your site once and calling it good isn’t good enough anymore, especially if you add more pages or more accessibility tools and techniques become available. WCAG guidelines recommend a review every two years; we prefer doing these quarterly especially for sites that are updated quite often.
  • Audio needs. Beyond focusing on visitors with vision challenges, you also can consider site visitors who may not hear well. They may want to read some form of subtitles or closed captioning. Adding this feature can be appealing. It also is a service that popular video site YouTube claims to offer but their captioning is considered not thorough enough, so not legally compliant.
  • Since multiple people in an organization likely maintain and add to the site, they all should have the latest knowledge of what ingredients go into a fully accessible site. Though some of the architecture and basic structure has already been established, individual users may still need to consider using correct colors, fonts or photos.

Accessibility rules will continue to evolve as well as available tools. We can help your organization develop a policy to ensure online visitors are always able to access your offerings.