Charles Dickens wrote, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” At this time of the year, we often look for ways to lighten the burdens of those around us. Have you ever thought about giving the gift of accessibility? Think of it as simply holding the door for a stranger. When you provide digital accessibility on a website or a document, you are holding the door for a friend and a stranger to let them enter and enjoy the same valuable information every other person visiting your website or reading your documents enjoys.
How do I give the gift of digital accessibility?
As with any gift as grand as accessibility, you first need to have a plan. To develop this plan, we have compiled a list of questions we recommend asking yourself (or your tech guy). As a bonus, we have also provided answers. Everyone loves an open-book test, right?
Is my website developer trained in accessibility?
If you already know your developer is trained in accessibility, you have most likely already had some type of discussion with them about providing an accessible website. If an accessible website was promised and your website is complete, you are ready to test it to confirm it is actually accessible. Note: If you are a School Webmasters client, your answer is yes. Our development and management staff are trained in accessibility and have made sure the content on your website is accessible.
If your developer is not trained in accessibility, you can pretty much count on the fact that your website is not accessible. If this is you, stop and contact us right away before you are known as the Scrooge of the season!
If you are not sure, this is the first sign you most likely do not have an accessible website. Developers who are trained in accessibility do not hide this amazing skill. We shout it from our desktops. We know how important it is and, we have spent many hours learning what it takes to create and maintain an accessible website.
Are all staff who submit content for and manage my website trained in accessibility?
In addition to your website developer and website management teams, you want to be sure anyone creating and submitting content for your website understands and has completed website accessibility training. At a minimum, this training should include what website accessibility is, who it affects, why it matters, and how to create accessible documents.
If you are a School Webmasters website management client, we provide free accessibility training for all your district staff. You have the ability to view and print reports to show who has completed training. If we do not manage your website and you are interested in training, visit our Website Accessibility Training page for more information. We are sure you won’t find it for a better price anywhere else.
Have I tested my website for accessibility?
A trained website accessibility auditor uses both manual and automated testing procedures to verify the accessibility of a website. Additionally, we recommend using people with visual, auditory, cognitive, and/or other disabilities to determine the actual accessibility of your website.
If you have not already tested your website, W3C offers a list of automated tools you can use to test web content for accessibility. While these tools are extremely valuable and will give you a general idea of how accessible your website is, it is important to remember that automated testing alone is not sufficient to determine accessibility. You will still need to perform manual testing to actually ensure accessibility. Since W3C’s list includes numerous tools, we recommend using the filters provided to help you decide which tools will work best for you.
How do I fix accessibility errors?
If you outsource your website services, we recommend providing a detailed list of errors to your website provider. You will need to work closely with them to ensure every barrier is removed. After barriers are removed and remediation is complete, test your website again to confirm accessibility.
If you are a School Webmasters client, great news! We do it all for you. In addition to developing your website accessibility, we will keep it accessible day in and day out. Our quality control team continuously reviews our clients’ websites for accessibility. There are no extra fees or hidden costs for our accessibility services. We know the importance of accessibility and include this with all our website packages.
Are my PDF and other documents accessible?
Remember to test the documents you link from your website also. What good is a lunch menu if someone can’t actually read it? Be sure every document you link to that has information about your services is accessible, including menus, board documents, registration forms, handbooks, classroom policies, etc. If the content on your web pages is accessible but you have failed to supply accessible documents, the web page that includes the linked document is not completely accessible.
As with the content on your website, the best way to handle document accessibility is during development. This means creating accessible documents rather than remediating them later. Of course, this will also save you money. If you do not have access to original documents, it will be more difficult, but it may be possible to remediate them in their current format. If you are not sure how to do this, let us know. We offer document remediation services to help you with all your document accessibility needs.
Do I have a statement of accessibility on my website?
Whether you are in the process of remediating your website, developing a new website, or have already verified accessibility, we recommend providing a statement of accessibility. The content of your statement depends on where you are in the process. If you are in the process of remediating your website, state this. This lets your users (and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights) know that you are aware of the barriers and are working to correct them.
We also recommend providing a form (an accessible one, of course) so your viewers can easily contact you in the event they experience a barrier. This way you can address any barriers right away.
I’m not sure I have the budget for website accessibility.
We know paying for website accessibility is not always something schools originally plan for when creating a budget for their website. However, we also know that not including accessibility means you may be facing a much bigger budget item when someone does not have access to your content. In addition to the cost of remediation, you must consider the legal fees you will encounter should you receive a letter from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
Think of your accessibility budget as your emergency savings account. If you plan correctly (with School Webmasters), you will never have to actually use it. Planning ahead allows you to include accessibility during every phase of website development and management without hurting your budget. It allows you to keep your website accessible. If you are our client, you don’t even have to buy expensive accessibility monitoring software. We do it all for you!
Don’t be the person giving the belated gift. Give accessibility now!
Let’s get started today! We will help you feel the joy of giving as you provide digital content accessible to everyone. Contact us to see how easy it is to not only provide accessibility but also meet all the requirements of the Americans with Disability Act, Section 504, and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines!