Having a dedicated accessibility page on your website that not only has tools that can be used on the site but also additional general support can be highly beneficial to your users. Incorporating an accessibility statement is a great way to start creating this valuable resource for your users, 44% of municipalities already have an accessibility statement available on their website1.
What is an Accessibility Statement?
An accessibility statement provides users with information about the accessibility of a site. This can include information about accessibility goals, the current level of conformance, any potential barriers, and a way for users to provide feedback. Accessibility statements should be written to provide information to disabled visitors on a site's accessibility.
Why do you need an accessibility statement?
In some cases, an accessibility statement is a legal obligation. For example, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires organizations with more than 50 employees to have a publicly available statement of commitment to accessibility. However, beyond a legal obligation, accessibility statements are a way to demonstrate your commitment to accessibility and provide crucial information to users who require it. This information can help users know what to expect from your site & how best to access it.
What should you include in your accessibility statement?
Accessibility statements are meant to provide users with information that will help them access your site. For this reason, accessibility statements should be written in a way that most users can understand. Keep the language simple and free from technical or legal jargon. Accessibility statements also should avoid trying to "prove" your site is accessible, instead focusing on providing information and resources on how people can access your site. Accessibility statements should also be easy to locate on your site, as this information is often vital for users. Below we have listed several pieces of information you can provide in your accessibility statement, starting with the top three recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
1. Your commitment to accessibility
This can be a brief statement letting disabled users know that you are committed to making your site accessible for everyone.
2. Your current level of accessibility
Include information on which version of Web Content Authoring Guidelines (WCAG) you currently meet, and at which level, so that users know what to expect from your site. If you currently meet WCAG 2.1 Level AA, but also meet some Level AAA Success Criteria, you can include those details here.
3. Contact information
Provide users with a way to provide feedback on your site's accessibility. This lets them know that you are committed to improving your site's accessibility and care about their experience. It's important that, if you are providing a place for feedback, this feedback is being reviewed and responded to regularly. It may be useful to include a timeframe so users know when to expect a response.
4. Known accessibility barriers
If your site has known accessibility barriers, being upfront about them can save users the frustration of discovering them on their own. Known barriers can include compatibility issues with assistive technologies or browsers, or other issues you are aware of and working to fix.
5. Accessibility tools and compatibility
Never assume that if someone requires assistive technology, they know where and how to access it. We recommend providing users with information about accessibility tools available on or compatible with your site. You can also provide information on how to use the tools available on your site and any limitations (e.g. if there are older browser versions that your tools are not compatible with). This helps ensure users are aware of the tools available to them to help access content.
6. Additional accessibility information
This information could include laws and policies your site conforms to, information about ongoing accessibility improvements, technical specifications of the site, or additional resources that may be available and relevant to users (see this article on steps to form an accessibility committee). Remember, your accessibility statement should be a resource for site visitors, so any information you have that may help people access your site should be included in an accessible statement.
Your accessibility statement should be kept up to date. Including the date of the last review of the statement or the last accessibility review of the site can help users determine the relevance of the information provided and can help demonstrate that keeping your site accessible is an ongoing consideration.
To learn more about web accessibility get in touch with our team of experts or view these articles:
- Website Content Migration and Accessibility
- What is Web Accessibility?
- Upanup's Accessibility
- 5 Ways to Boost Your Website's Accessibility
- How Accessibility Benefits a Business
1. According to a survey conducted by Upanup that reviewed fifty Canadian municipal websites.