Summary: An introduction to web accessibility statements and why they are important to have on each page of your website.
The first practice of each basketball season John Wooden would famously spend it it teaching the team how to put on their socks and tie their shoes correctly. Many 5 star recruits were surprised to spend this much time without a ball or even conditioning. The reason is Wooden knew the importance of doing this simple thing right and it set the tone for the season. He considered it fundamental.
Web Accessibility statements are a fundamental of web accessibility that might seem odd to you at first. It isn’t actually improving the accessibility of existing content after all, but it is a relatively simple thing you can do that can have a big impact on your web accessibility efforts.
What is a web accessibility statement?
A web accessibility statement is simply a statement about how accessible your website is. It should be linked to from each page on your website and provide a contact method for feedback from users who run into issues accessing your website. Simple enough right?
Why should you create an accessibility statement?
The W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium that defines internet standards) outlines 3 benefits of creating a web accessibility statement:
- “Show your users that you care about accessibility and about them”
- “Provide them with information about the accessibility of your content”
- “Demonstrate commitment to accessibility, and to social responsibility”
I add 2 more reasons:
- Provide a consistent easy way for your users to give feedback on accessibility issues
- Set the tone internally that you will prioritize web accessibility
Provide a consistent easy way for your users to give feedback on accessibility issues
You want users to be able to use your content. If they are running into issues because of their disability, then giving them an easy way to let you know can make all of the difference. Now make sure this contact method is actually monitored and is accessible itself.
Many of the accessibility lawsuits that I have read the company had an opportunity to fix their accessibility barriers prior to the lawsuit. Don’t ignore user accessibility feedback!
Set the tone internally that you will prioritize web accessibility
The act of publicly saying you will care about web accessibility can be impactful by itself. It indicates to your teams that this is something important to the organization. Web accessibility needs to be intentional and needs to be a priority in order to be successful.
What if my website isn’t fully accessible?
This is the most common question I hear when talking about web accessibility statements. Ideally of course those accessibility issues would already be fixed but having issues shouldn’t stop you from creating a web accessibility statement. The unfortunate truth is that most websites have accessibility issues.
There is a tendency to want to hide accessibility issues, but the truth is that web accessibility is already public information. Your users with disabilities already know if your website is accessible to them or not. By having a web accessibility statement with a way to contact you for feedback you will be decreasing your risk not increasing it. And of course improve on where you are at.
What should my accessibility statement include?
It can be really simple, just that commitment to web accessibility, how accessible the website is and a way to give feedback. You can also include things you are doing to maintain and improve your accessibility, known issues, browser requirements.
Remember the goal is to help people with disabilities, so write it with a tone and in such a way that helps a user who is having an issue using your website.
You don’t have to use that template, web accessibility statements come in many shapes and sizes.
Examples of real world accessibility statements
A few of my favorite examples are the following:
- W3C generator simple example
- Adrian Roselli (this is a personal blog, but I like it because it uses the W3C generator tool, and is simple yet comprehensive and very useful)
- North Carolina State University (separate accessibility website)
- LinkedIN (its simple and approachable)
Below is a list of real world web accessibility statements from organizations in different industries and sizes. There are some things about these that I like more (or don’t) than others but they are live accessibility statements from every industry and size of organization.
The point of sharing these to understand that companies and organization across all industries and sizes can benefit from a web accessibility statement. It can also be pretty easy to add and if you aren’t sure there are lots of examples you can learn from.
You will notice for higher education (and larger companies) they often times have an entire website dedicated to web accessibility that is linked to from each page of all of their websites. Higher Education has many different audiences with differing goals related to web accessibility.
- California Community Colleges
- Texas State University
- Utah State University (separate accessibility website)
- Capital Region ESD 113
- Davis School District
- New York City School District (mixes physical accessibility and digital into one page)
- Google (separate website)
- Nature (Journal)
- Canvas (has VPAT as well)
- NBA (National Basketball Association)
Services, hospitality and restaurants
Tired of testing pages one at a time?
Pope Tech can get you up and running with usable web accessibility data in just a few minutes.
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