This guide is intended to convey practical information to help you build accessible websites. However, we are not lawyers, and none of the information provided in this article should be used in lieu of legal advice. If you are worried about the legal ramifications of web accessibility, we'd highly suggest that you check the legislation governing web accessibility in your state, and seek the advice of a qualified lawyer.
With the rise of Americans with Disabilities (ADA) lawsuits, businesses are incorporating disclosures on their websites to alert visitors to the level of web accessibility their website aims to accomplish. These disclosures are referred to as accessibility statements and are a brief page that is available as a link that is available on every page.
Why do I need an accessibility statement?
An accessibility statement has two fundamental roles. First, it presents information to all visitors on what level of accessibility the business is trying to achieve. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the international standards for web accessibility. They have different levels of web accessibility: A, AA, and AAA with A being the most basic and AAA being the most comprehensive level. It also allows the website owner to highlight any areas of the website where accessibility goals have not been met yet and an outline of how the goals will be reached. Secondly, an accessibility statement shows website visitors the website’s dedication to website accessibility. However, make sure that all goals set in the accessibility statement are attainable because unattainable goals that are not completed will damage the reputation of your site.
What information is provided in an accessibility statement?
• A commitment to providing an accessible website
• An outline of web accessibility standards the website currently follows
• A list of future web accessibility goals
• Contact information for anyone who may have difficulties with the website
The first paragraph of your accessibility statement should showcase to visitors how vital web accessibility is to your company. This paragraph should tell consumers that your business wants to make sure it’s website is just accessible to some, but all people.
The body of the accessibility statement should include guidelines and standards your business plans to follow to become ADA compliant. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the international industry standard guidelines. The statement must also include what level of accessibility the site is trying to achieve A, AA, or AAA. It goes on to explain what WCAG is and lets people know that by following these guidelines it helps visitors with disabilities use the site.
The next paragraph should go into brief detail about major guidelines the website intends to follow. Common guidelines include adding descriptive text to links and images and adding a skip to content button so visually impaired users can skip to the text they wish to see.
Lastly, your web accessibility statement should give visitors a way to contact you if they have accessibility problems navigating the site. An email address or phone number works in this instance.
If you follow this outline your business will have ten years to fully remediate your site and fix any other accessibility issues that might arise. The finished accessibility statement will give users an understanding of how committed your business is to web accessibility and making sure your website is accessible to all people. It will also give visitors a clear outline of the accessibility guidelines your company intends to follow and what your company has already accomplished to be accessible.