Web Accessibility is public information

Users with disabilities already know where your accessibility issues are when they use your website. Do you?

If we ran your first baseline web accessibility scan across your website(s), would there be lots of errors? If there were thousands of errors would your first instinct be to hide it?

If you think of web accessibility as just a requirement or a liability, it’s easy to want to cover your tracks. Many organizations worry about gathering baseline accessibility data or being transparent about accessibility issues in fear of not wanting to admit a liability.

You may or may not realize it, but there are many different ways the accessibility of your website is already publicly available. I have listed three of these ways below:

First, users with disabilities already know when they can’t use or access parts of a website. You can’t hide it from them.

Second, anyone can run aXe or the WAVE extension on your website and find automatically detectable issues.

Finally, every user to your website literally downloads all the accessibility information to their own computer. That is how browsing works. The browser downloads the HTML, CSS and JavaScript of your website. Anyone who visits your website is already collecting the accessible and inaccessible code that is your website.

Web Accessibility is public information.

The best way to decrease your liability isn’t to pretend this public information doesn’t exist. Finding and fixing the accessibility issues is the solution.

If web accessibility is public information, then what?

Now you can focus on improving web accessibility, instead of worrying about people finding out about the inaccessibility of your website.

Web accessibility shouldn’t be scary. It is a great opportunity.

For example at Pope Tech, we decided to publish all known web accessibility issues on our website. Our platform is very accessible. But sometimes we find things we can improve on. This has been a good tool for our users and us internally. Being transparent has helped us improve our accessibility even more.

You might not choose to publish your known web accessibility issues, but we do recommend creating a web accessibility statement with a way for users to give feedback.

We want our websites to be accessible, but no one is always perfect at web accessibility. It’s ok to admit that you are improving.

Run that first scan, find out what your users already know, and start improving your accessibility one step at a time.