Websites are a requirement for businesses in the modern era. Not only do they provide a way to reach a wider audience, but they are also a way to show transparency and commitment to customer service. This is why it is important to have an accessibility statement on your website.
A website accessibility statement is a document that outlines the steps that a website owner has taken to ensure that their site is accessible to as many people as possible. This includes people with disabilities and those who may use assistive technologies to access the internet.
Developing a website accessibility statement can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Below is an outline of what to include in an accessibility statement and provides some best practices for creating one.
In addition to your commitment to accessibility and the accessibility standard applied to your site (i.e. WCAG 2.1), there are four key elements that should be included in every accessibility statement:
- A list of the accessible features of the website
- A description of how users can take advantage of those features
- A list of any known limitations
- Contact information for someone who can provide further assistance
List of accessible features: When listing the features of your website that are accessible to users with disabilities, be as specific as possible. For example, if your site is fully compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines, make sure to say so. If your site includes audio and video content, mention whether or not transcriptions and captions are available.
Description of how users can take advantage of those features: It’s not enough to simply list the features of your site that are accessible; you also need to explain how users can take advantage of those features. For instance, if your site includes audio content, you might say “Users can access transcripts of all audio content by clicking on the ‘Transcript’ button that appears next to each piece of audio.”
List of known limitations: No website is perfect, and it’s important to be upfront about any limitations in your site’s accessibility. Perhaps your site uses Flash technology which is not compatible with screen readers. Or maybe your videos don’t include captions. Whatever the case may be, make sure to list any known limitations in your statement.
Contact information for someone who can provide further assistance: It’s helpful to include contact information for someone who can provide assistance if users have difficulty accessing your site. This might be an email address or a phone number. You might also consider including links to additional resources such as an FAQ page or customer support forum.
Now that we’ve gone over what should be included in an accessibility statement, let’s talk about some best practices for developing one.
- Keep it short and sweet: An accessible website should be easy to use for everyone, including people with disabilities. That same principle applies to an accessibility statement; it should be easy for users to find and understand. Don’t bury your statement on a hard-to-find page or write it in dense legal language; keep it short, clear, and concise.
- Use simple language: An accessibility statement should be understandable by everyone, regardless of their level of expertise when it comes to web accessibility. As such, it’s important to use simple language throughout your statement.
- Make it easy to find: An accessible website should be easy for everyone to reach and navigate—and that includes people with disabilities who may be using assistive technologies such as text-to-speech software or screen readers .Make sure your statement is prominently displayed on your homepage and easy to find via a link in the main navigation menu. Don’t hide it away on an inaccessible page.
- Update it regularly: A best practice when it comes to writing an accessibility statement is to write it once and then update it on a regular basis .This will ensure that your statement always reflects the latest changes and updates to your website. It’s also a good idea to include the date of the last update at the top of your statement so users know how current it is.
Following these best practices will help simplify the process of creating an accessibility statement and ensure that your statement is informative and easy-to-understand. A great place to start is the The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Website Accessibility Statement Generator. By using this tool, you will be able to generate a custom accessibility statement that can be downloaded and further refined.
If you wanted to take your website accessibility efforts a step further, you could utilize a website accessibility software suite, such as AllAccessible. AllAccessible includes an editable accessibility statement along with other tools such as a website accessibility modal, and remediation dashboards to help you improve your website’s accessibility.
Creating an accessible website is vital to ensuring that all users have equal access to information and functionality.