If you’re among the growing number of organizations embracing digital accessibility, chances are you already grasp the “what” and “why” behind this imperative.
But what about the “how”? Here are some steps to take to lay the foundation for ensuring your web content is accessible to everyone.
1. Review digital content and prioritize digital accessibility remediation efforts.
Review websites, apps, digital documents and tools to identify issues. (In addition to manual review, you can use our free Accessibility Checker to get an idea of how accessible your web content is today.)
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), have been adopted internationally as the uniform standard for digital accessibility. The volume and detail of these guidelines can be overwhelming. Here are some considerations for prioritizing initial efforts:
- Developing a new site or digital asset? Make accessibility a goal at the outset. It’s much easier to build it in from the ground-up than to go back and retrofit, which can have far-reaching implications in terms of color choices, writing style, navigation, and more.
- Fix top errors that trigger accessibility lawsuits. These typically include issues affecting people with vision or hearing impairments, including missing alt text from images, missing labels in forms and improper table mark-up.
- Address errors on pages with high visibility or traffic.
- Fix any accessibility issues that limit the customer journey or ability to use the site for its intended purpose (e.g., product description and checkout pages on e-commerce sites).
2. Secure organization-wide commitment to digital accessibility.
This step can be as useful for small business owners as it is for large, geographically-dispersed organizations. Making a team commitment and putting it in writing goes a long way toward internalizing digital accessibility rather than relegating it to an afterthought.
- Get all stakeholders on board, from top decision-makers to customer-facing teams to support staff.
- Craft a
written commitment to digital accessibility:
- State your organization’s intent to make web content accessible to everyone.
- Reference standards and guidelines you aim to adhere to (e.g., WCAG 2.0 AA).
- Include contact information for requesting help or reporting issues.
- Make the statement available to staff and the public.
- Establish policies and procedures on digital accessibility.
3. Provide focused training for key job roles.
Web accessibility will affect some staff members more than others. These might include content strategists and marketers, digital copywriters, developers, designers, various IT roles responsible for web quality assurance, QA engineers and others, depending on organizational structure.
While WCAG provides detailed techniques for conforming to digital accessibility standards, at the outset, understanding the “POUR” principles of accessibility lays a good foundation for building digital accessibility into the company mindset.
According to the POUR principles of accessibility, web content should be:
- Perceivable – Information must be presented in ways that users can perceive (i.e., detect with their senses).
- Operable – All users must be able to operate interactive components of your site.
- Understandable – All users must be able to understand information presented (e.g., through predictable navigation and simple language). Check out Mailchimp’s guide on writing for accessibility and Google’s material design for accessibility guidelines.
- Robust – Websites should work well across varying platforms and devices (e.g., assistive technologies).
Creating checklists based on these principles for use across the web design and development phase is a good way to ingrain digital accessibility.
4. Select a partner for a full audit and ongoing remediation.
Digital accessibility is not a one-off effort. Relying on in-house resources to monitor and remediate digital accessibility issues drains staff time and diverts attention from other strategic efforts. It also potentially leaves your web content vulnerable to violations that either go undetected or unfixed due to time constraints.
On the other hand, partnering with a web accessibility consultant offers several advantages. These firms have extensive experience in the digital accessibility space. They’re dedicated to staying up to date on changing standards and legislation. And they often use software platforms that make it simpler and more cost-effective than ever before to find and fix digital accessibility errors.
In fact, the Make-Sense solution reduces the cost and complexity of digital accessibility by continuously monitoring and providing real-time fixes to keep websites compliant with WCAG standards. Start your journey today toward better web accessibility for all.