The following is a guest post.
If you’re a developer or are responsible for a corporate site or application, the word accessibility has likely bounced onto your table more than once. Some of you may have been “aced” by a boss or customer who insisted you figure out how to make the corporate site accessible. It could have been the threat of litigation under the ADA. Maybe your company sells to the federal government and you were required to produce a VPAT. Some of you, however, may have tightened your grip on that little wooden paddle and smashed accessibility back over the net.
The problem is, sooner or later, accessibility comes spinning back to your side of the table. So, instead of getting caught in another game of accessibility Ping-Pong, let’s put our paddles down, come out of the basement, and join the rest of the party. There are some great reasons for making any website accessible. Many of them are the reasons your competitors may already be at the accessibility party.
No good party is complete without a big pitcher of ice cold Accessibility Kool-Aid. While there are many business drivers behind accessibility, the real reason to do it is social responsibility. An accessible website is one that can be accessed by all users equally, including those with disabilities. Therefore, regardless of the business drivers behind your decision to make your website or application accessible, you should feel good that it will be designed in a way that includes everyone.
One of the best things about being at a party is that you get to try all the new dishes people bring. The accessibility party is no different. It’s simple, accessible design; inclusive design means more people bringing more things for you to put on your plate. Companies with a website that conforms to accessibility guidelines (Section 508, WCAG 2.0) can realize any number of benefits which may include:
- Qualifying to do business with the federal government.
- Realizing the strong ROI associated with the additional business from the disabled community.
- Potential increase in SEO.
- Mitigating risk of expensive litigation.
- Qualifying to do business with the growing number of companies that require accessibility.
Picking the Right Accessibility Outfit
So now you’re going to the accessibility party. You’re going to need help picking out the right outfit. It’s not enough to have someone that has “worked with accessibility before” look at your site. Accessibility tools can help, but they find less than thirty-percent of the accessibility errors. You need to make sure your site is fully compliant with the guidelines. To get this done right you’re going to need two things:
- A good development company that understands accessibility
- A qualified accessibility consulting firm to work with them.
Let’s Dance – The Accessibility Three Step
You’re looking sharp. Now it’s time to get moving. So slip on those dancing shoes, grab your partner and let do the three step – the three steps to evaluating your website or application and making it accessible, that is.
The process for evaluating and fixing a site that is not accessible looks like this:
- Assess – You will need a good accessibility audit to show you the violations to WCAG 2.0 and other accessibility guidelines
- Remediate – Once you have the audit it’s time for your developers to go to work fixing the issues. Ask your accessibility consultant about services they may offer to help your developers with the remediation:
- Accessibility training
- Help desk support
- Interim quality assurance audits
- Compatibility testing to ensure the product works with assistive technology (the tools that people with disability use to interact with your website)
- Integrate – Now that you’ve gone through the work of creating a website that is accessible you’ll want to keep it that way and make sure future projects are accessible from the start. You will want to look at the following for your organization:
- Corporate accessibility policies development
- Develop best practices and checklists to integrate accessibility throughout the development process
- Accessibility certification
- On-going accessibility monitoring
When you have an accessible website, you can be proud knowing that your efforts don’t just help people with one kind of disability but help all people including those with any number of disabilities. Now that’s worth bringing to a party.
Mark Miller is the accounts and marketing director for Interactive Accessibility, internationally-recognized experts who provide accessibility services for ADA compliance, Section 508 compliance with VPAT certification and WCAG 2.0 Compliance. He can be reached at 603-580-9110 or email@example.com.