Is this a plug to only hire Civic Webmasters for all your website and document accessibility needs? Yes, it is. But it’s more than that. Because we care so much about our customers and making the world accessible to everyone, we can no longer keep quiet about our true feelings. In an ideal world, we would see 100% digital accessibility. Unfortunately, as long as organizations continue to hire and use developers who are not fully trained and experienced in accessibility, this goal will remain unreachable.
This is where we would normally toot our own horn and easily explain why Civic Webmasters is your best option for website development, provide testimonials from customers who love us, and show you beautiful website samples. However, we want to break tradition and tell you why not to hire someone else, particularly a developer who does not integrate accessibility into every phase of their development process. Yes, this means your WordPress wizard friend or your coworker who says you don’t have to know code because they will just create your website for free using Wix or Squarespace. After all, they do it all the time just for fun, right. Heed the warning:
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The only exception to this rule is when our customers quickly learn we aren’t too good to be true. At Civic Webmasters, we really do everything we say we’ll do for unbeatable prices. Oops! It’s really hard not to toot your own horn when you’re this amazing! So, let us tell you what saddens us about other website developers. Consider this scenario:
You either received a letter from the Office of Civil Rights demanding you provide an accessible website or you know the law and want to be sure you never receive a demand letter. Whatever the case, you need a website accessibility audit. You contact Civic Webmasters and are ecstatic to find someone who can give you the accessibility you need for an unbeatable price. Meanwhile, perhaps to meet the looming OCR audit, you hire a developer to create a beautiful new website so your accessibility audit results are clean and barrier-free.
Sounds like an ideal strategy, right? Actually, this could not be more wrong. Unfortunately, we find ourselves working with this same scenario too often, and it needs to stop. Never assume your development team is trained in accessibility and will automatically implement accessible techniques. Because the first step to an accessible website is implementing accessibility during development, it’s important to remember that everyone on the development team must be fully training in accessibility including:
- project managers,
- graphic designers,
- UI designers,
- software engineers, and
- all other front and back end developers.
Basically, anyone who touches your website must be trained and experienced in digital accessibility. Otherwise, your new, stunning website that your organization spent valuable time and money to create, including unadvised slideshows, ends up costing you two or even three times more to be remediated to actually be accessible to everyone. Our hearts go out to our customers every time it happens. If you’re worried that developing a new website will take too long to meet your deadlines, let us help you eliminate your concerns now. Civic Webmasters will have your new, accessible website up and running sooner and for less money than it will take for you to remediate your old one. We know how to do it and will have your new website shining brightly in time to meet your pending deadlines.
The Steps to Website Accessibility Success
Instead of making the same mistakes we see way too often, follow these steps to website accessibility success:
- Be proactive and make your website accessible before you have to spend valuable time and money on an accessibility lawsuit.
- Hire a document accessibility team to remediate the documents linked from your website. (Yes, we do this too!)
- Collaborate with designers and developers to create a new accessible website, or if possible, remediate your current website. (If you hire us, skip to step 10.)
- Hire an expert to audit your website. (Hint: that’s us!)
- Review audit results, and make necessary remediations.
- Have your auditor confirm remediations are accurate.
- Post an accessibility statement on your website letting the world know your website is both accessible and compliant with federal accessibility guidelines.
- Ensure all website updates are completed accessibly.
- Rest assured with your new, accessible, compliant website.
We hope you’ve already decided to skip steps five through nine. In this case, contact us to start your accessible design today. Otherwise, continue reading for more tips to help you along the way.
How to choose an accessible development team
In addition to a development team that promises to provide an appealing, user friendly website with all the extras you can dream up, your designers and developers must care about things like semantic HTML, color contrast, WAI-ARIA techniques, full keyboard accessibility, etc. We recommend asking the following questions to potential developers:
- Do you use semantic HTML?
- Do you use colors that pass color contrast requirements?
- Do you implement WAI-ARIA techniques when needed?
- Are the websites you develop fully keyboard accessible?
- Do all images include alternative text?
- Will users be able to increase the text size up to 200% without increasing the size of graphics?
- What do you do if we find something that isn’t accessible?
Be sure whoever you hire is willing to work with you to remediate accessibility barriers you find now and after your website is complete. Not only will this ensure you are barrier-free, but it will also encourage accessibility during the development process and remove the need for remediation all together.
My website looks great, but my documents failed my audit
Don’t forget your documents! Remember, all the information about your organization and the services you offer must be accessible, including the content in your linked documents. Whether you are just getting started on your new website, are in the middle of website development, or your website is live, the time to remediate your documents is now. If you need assistance with your documents, you can learn more about document accessibility and how we can make your document remediation efforts painless.
Keep your website accessible
You’ve spent a lot of time ensuring you have an accessible website, so you’ll want to be sure you keep it that way. Don’t let one website update create any accessibility barriers that cause your website to be inaccessible and out of compliance. You’ve worked too hard to allow that to happen.
Aside from only using accessibility-trained developers, the front-end developers you use to maintain your website must keep it accessible. That’s why when we manage a website, it’s unthinkable for anyone except our accessibility-trained teams to touch your website. Our teams understand the importance of accessibility. If we receive a request to add something that is not accessible, we offer accessible solutions so everyone has access to all your information all the time.
We tried to get through a whole article without focusing on how amazing Civic Webmasters is with accessibility. However, when you’re this awesome, it’s pretty hard. Contact us today to find out how we will accomplish accessibility together.
Posted by Kelly Childs, Director of Website Accessibility