The web is a key component of every organization's internal operations and external interactions with clients and customers. Many of the employees and customers who will use your organization's website may have cognitive, motor, and sensory limitations which could impact how they view and receive information via the internet.
In order to make your message about your company, services and goods available to as many people as possible, you must ensure that your website is accessible to viewers who use assistive technology, such as screen readers, to access the internet.
Benefits of Web Accessibility
An accessible website has the potential to benefit your employees, customers and organization in that it:
- Expands potential market share to include people with disabilities and the aging population
- Improves search engine ranking
- Improves delivery of content to multiple devices (e.g., mobile devices, etc.)
- Enhances usability by both customers and employees who have certain disabilities
- Ensures that internal web applications do not present a barrier for employees in completing the essential functions of their jobs
- Ensures online job postings, application systems, and recruiting tools are accessible to prospective job applicants with disabilities
- Improves an organization's technical performance by reducing site development and maintenance time as well as the costs and time associated with creating multiple versions of a site for different devices or users
- Creates a positive image by demonstrating a desire to meet the access needs of a diverse society
Web Accesibility Requirements
Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act which requires all federal agencies to make their electronic information and resources accessible for individuals with a disability. Section508.gov has information about electronic accessibility laws, regulations, and training.
The General Services Adminstration’s IT Accessibility and Workforce (ITAW) provides assistive technology solutions to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities. ITAW’s Assistive Technology (AT) Showcase displays state-of-the-art assistive technologies and ergonomic solutions. ITAW is the government's principal advocate and coordinator for Section 508 implementation that requires agencies to make information technology accessible for people with disabilities.
WebAIM provides comprehensive web accessibility solutions and is one of the leading providers of web accessibility expertise internationally.They provide knowledge, technical skills, tools, and organizational leadership strategies to assist organization in making their content accessible for people with disabilities.
SSB Bart Group<https://www.ssbbartgroup.com/index.php>
Since 1997, SSB BART Group (SSB) has supported the accessibility initiatives of more than 1,000 organizations by developing software, training and consulting solutions to address the specific business and technical needs of the organizations most affected by accessibility requirements. Early in 2011, SSB BART Group acquired the team and specific assets of TecAccess, LLC. This acquisition has allowed SSB to expand its service offerings to include custom design and development services focused on accessible and compliant IT systems.
Accessible Tech <http://accessibletech.org/index.php>
Accessible Tech is a project of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network. The organization provides information, problem solving assistance, and referrals to businesses for implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Accessible Information Technology.
Web Accessibility: Before and After Demonstrations<http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/2005/Demo/>
This W3C multi-page resource suite shows common accessibility barriers using practical examples. The demonstration consists of an inaccessible Web site, an accessible version of the same site, as well as information about the demonstrated barriers.
JAN Technical Series:Tips for Designing Accessible Websites<http://askjan.org/media/webpages.html>
JAN's Technical Series is designed to help those engaged in information and communication technologies (ICT) in the design of accessible websites. Individuals may be representatives of employers, designers, or those responsible for providing information technology infrastructures for various organizations and industries.If you would like further assistance with designing an online system that is accessible to people with disabilities, contact the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) at http://askjan.org or call (800)526-7234 (Voice) (877)781-9403 (TTY)
Acrobat Web Accessibility Training Guides<http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/training.html>
This series of Adobe accessibility guides are intended to assist authors in creating PDF files that are accessible to people with disabilities.
Techniques for Web Accessibility Guidelines 2.0<http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/>
This W3C resources provides a list for web content developers of all checkpoints from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, organized by concept.
Quick Reference: Testing Web Content for Accessibility<http://webaim.org/resources/evalquickref/>
Reference sheet of major areas to examine when evaluating web content for accessibility.
Web Accesssibility: Guidelines for Administrators<http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Technology/web_admin.html>
This National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education resource answers some basic questions about web accessibility such as: What are the primary web accessibility issues?, What accessibility standards exist that our organization can adopt? Can I check the accessibility of my organization's websites? and What steps can I take to assure the accessibility of the websites in my organization?.
Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility<http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/Overview.html>
This W3C resource suite that outlines different approaches to evaluating websites for accessibility. While it does not provide checkpoint-by-checkpoint testing techniques, it does provide general procedures and tips for evaluation in different situations, from evaluation during website development to ongoing monitoring of existing sites.
The Access Board is an independent federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities, information on standards, technical assistance, and compliance for people with disabilities. Employers interested in web accessibility should visit the Access Board's site to find out the latest information on 508 accessibility standards and best practices.