Since the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) became the W3C's recommended standard in December 2008, the Federal Government has used it as the benchmark for judging if websites meet the requirements of the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) for accessibility. More recently, WCAG 2.1 updates the standard to include awareness of things like touch screens and the mobile environment. As a result the Department of Justice (DOJ) has become increasingly active in requiring compliance with ADA standards for local government and public commercial websites. Those standards point directly to WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA, (and 2.1 in the future) for judging the compliance of all websites.
As the Campus Accessibility Liaison for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I have played an active role in bringing U of I websites into compliance with federal standards over the past 12 years. This work has covered over 80 different departments and units, evaluating their sites and training their staff. Additionally, I work under contract with Champaign County of Illinois and Yakima County of Washington as a U.S.-approved accessibility consultant, employed to help them meet the requirements of a structured settlement with the Department of Justice (respectively DOJ - DJ# 204-24-116 and DJ# 204-82-269).
Are you required to make your websites accessible because of a settlement with the DOJ? My expert review of your sites will meet the requirements posed by the settlement. Here are important issues for you to consider:
- Automated tool testing - DOJ settlements require the use of an automated tool for reviewing the accessibility of a website. I use several different tools for this aspect of an evaluation. A few of these tools are the AInspector Sidebar - an excellent inspection tool, ANDI - the primary tool of choice for the federal government's Trusted Tester Program, AXE - a popular tool developed by Deque, and the Paciello Colour Contrast Analyser. One caveat, you should know that automated testing will catch, at best, 40% of existing accessibility issues. It takes a trained expert to conduct "manual testing" to make sure your site is functionally accessible, not just compliant. It is entirely possible for a site to pass an automated tool test 100% and still be unusable for audiences with disabilities.
- My Accessibility Reports - Give you a comprehensive, easy-to-understand breakdown of the following:
- Keyboard accessibility - Can someone who is restricted to the keyboard and unable to use a mouse navigate your site?
- Code compliance - Is your site compliant with its declared document type? This can make a big difference on how well assistive technologies interact with the site.
- Use of ARIA - Is your site using Accessible Rich Internet Application landmark roles and is it using them correctly?
- Mobile and Tablet environments - Is your site designed to respond to the mobile or tablet screen? If so, does it do this in a way that is user-friendly and accessible?
- Usability for all audiences - Have you considered how well your website performs for all audiences regardless of their ability? My reports included a heuristic usability evaluation to measure the benefit for everyone.
- Mapping to WCAG 2.1 - My reports reference the WCAG 2.1 guidelines to show you why a finding is an issue. Where possible, a recommendation is offered on how to fix that issue.
- Here is a sample report to show you the detail and depth of my reports.
- Training - Typical DOJ settlements require training for your content providers and web developers. Having taught web design and accessibility for over the past 12 years, I am well equipped to offer training for your staff. Training can be tailored to meet your needs.
When it comes to evaluating and fixing your websites, make sure you hire a consultant who knows what they are talking about and can give you guidance on meeting WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA requirements. I have a proven track record of being able to do that and I can offer you references from satisfied clients to back it up. Contact me today at my email address so we can discuss your needs and how best to meet them.