What is conformance? And why 100% conformance is not the only goal on your digital accessibility journey.

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One-hundred-percent conformance with any level of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is very difficult to accomplish. The most usable experiences incorporate accessibility during design and development, test and remediate materials against WCAG with experts, and work with users with disabilities throughout the entire process. Even after you follow all of those best practices, why do we say, “don’t claim 100% conformance with WCAG?” Here’s why: when it comes to some of the WCAG success criteria, there are gray areas where even experts disagree, and you can’t guarantee that there won’t be usability issues across an audience with varied means of access. Accessibility, just like user experience, is not black and white.

Five reasons to strive for accessibility and usability (not 100% conformance):

  1. Meeting all of the WCAG success criteria does not necessarily make a website accessible to all people with disabilities. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops open standards (including WCAG) to ensure the long-term growth of the Web, suggests that meeting all of the WCAG success criteria does not necessarily make a website accessible to all people with disabilities. The W3C Understanding Conformance page states that, “Although content may satisfy all Success Criteria, the content may not always be usable by people with a wide variety of disabilities. Therefore, usability testing is recommended, in addition to the required functional testing.”
  2. WCAG success criteria are open to differing interpretations, even by experts. A criterion that one WCAG expert identifies as a failure may only be identified as a warning by another expert; still another may not identify it as a barrier at all. For example, it is never really accurate to say that alternative text written for an image is the exact and precise equivalent for what that image is conveying to sighted users. A number of factors, including the context in which the image is presented, or the knowledge and skill of the person writing the description, will always affect the quality of the alternative.
  3. Testing for accessibility compliance is almost always done on a sample of representative content. The reason? It is usually cost prohibitive, and is simply not practical, to test all of the pages and content on a website. Claiming a website is 100% conformant with WCAG takes a giant leap of faith to declare that pages that were not part of the subset originally evaluated also meet WCAG.
  4. Testing doesn’t always account for all user environments. Typically, testing is not done with all permutations of devices, platforms, browsers and assistive technologies. Why? Doing such robust testing would often be cost prohibitive. In addition to considering the variations in how hardware, user agents and assistive technology interact with each other, each user that comes to your website will take a unique approach. Each approach may produce different results in terms of accessibility and usability. The best way to ensure that your materials are usable and accessible by as wide an audience as possible is to gather feedback from users with different types of disabilities throughout the design and development process.
  5. Websites are updated on a regular basis. When websites are updated (e.g., as bugs are fixed or new content is added), you can’t always guarantee that accessibility barriers weren’t accidentally introduced without thorough retesting. Periodic expert and user testing is the best way to protect yourself against the introduction of new accessibility barriers.

Now that you understand why it’s problematic to claim 100% conformance with WCAG, what can you claim? We recommended you recognize that accessibility is an ongoing process and you communicate your dedication to making your website work for all visitors, regardless of their age, ability or means of access. You can do this by adding an accessibility statement to your website. Or if your product needs to show its level of conformance, you can have it tested by experts, who will evaluate your product against WCAG success criteria and provide a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).

Is your organization ready to embrace digital accessibility the right way? Whether you’re just getting started or want to understand what you could be doing better, the experts at ADA for Web can help.

Original article can be found here.

Working on a website can be difficult. Adding new media and updating pages is chore, even though you know your company website needs to evolve and become more accessible to the many users you are trying to reach. Maybe when you first built it, accessibility wasn’t even really discussed. But now you’ve taken a step back, looked at your customer base with a desire to include everyone and you’ve realized just how important it is to make your site accessible. However, the thought of building a robust site that can do all the things you want it to do is overwhelming.

What is Web Accessibility

A practice of designing and coding the website in order to provide complete compatibility in accessing it by people with disabilities. In addition, it is a way to improve search engine optimization only an ADA Compliant Web Designer will help you to make your website Compliant. Is your website compatible? By going through the checklist below, you can get the answer.

Assessing Current Web Pages and Content

  • The website must include a feature like a navigation link at the top of the page. These links have a bypass mechanism such as a “skip navigation” link. This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the web page content. It is beneficial for people who use screen readers to avoid to listen to all the links each time they jump to a new page.
  • All the links should be understandable when taken out of the context. For example, images without alternative text and links without worded as “click here”.
  • All the graphics, maps, images, and other non-text content must provide text alternatives through the alt attribute, a hidden/visible long description.
  • All the documents posted on the website should available in HTML or another accessible text-based format. It is also applicable to other formats like Portable Document Format (PDF).
  • The online forms on the website should be structured so assistive technology can identify, describe and operate the controls and inputs. By doing this, people with disabilities can review and submit the forms.
  • If the website has online forms, the drop-down list should describe the information instead of displaying a response option. For instance, “Your Age” instead of “18-25”.
  • If the website has data charts and tables, they should be structured so that all data cells are associated with column and row identifiers.
  • All the video files on the website must have audio descriptions (if necessary). This is for the convenience of blind people or for having a visual impairment disability.
  • All the video files on the website must have synchronized captions. People with hearing problems or deaf can access these files conveniently.
  • All the audio files on the website should have synchronized captions to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • All web pages should be designed so that they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings for color and font.

About Website Accessibility Policy and Procedures

  • One must have a written policy on website accessibility.
  • The website accessibility policy must be posted on the website at a location where it can be easily found.
  • The procedure should be developed to ensure that content is not added to the website until it has been made accessible.
  • It should be confirmed that the website manager has checked the code and structure of all new web pages before they are posted.
  • While adding the PDFs to the website, these should be accessible. Also, the text-based versions of the documents should be accessible at the same time as PDF versions.
  • Make sure that the in-house and contractor staff has received the information about the website accessibility policy and procedure to confirm the website accessibility.
  • It should be confirmed that in-house and contractor staff has received appropriate training on how to ensure the accessibility of the website.
  • The website should have a specific written plan if it contains inaccessible content. Also, it should include timeframes in place to make all of the existing web content accessible.
  • A complete plan to improve website accessibility should be posted along with invited suggestions for improvement.
  • The homepage should include easily locatable information that includes contact details like telephone number and email address. This is useful for reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessibility services with information.
  • A website should have procedures in place to assure a quick response to the visitors with disabilities who have difficulty in accessing information or services available on the website.
  • Feedback from people who use a variety of assistive technologies is helpful in ensuring website accessibility. So make sure to ask disability groups representing people to provide feedback on the accessibility of your website.
  • Testing the website using a product available on the internet is helpful, These tools are of free cost and check the accessibility of a website. They may not identify all accessibility issues and flag issues that are not accessibility problems. However, these are, nonetheless, a helpful way to improve website accessibility.

Checklist of Action Items for Improving the Accessibility of a Website

In addition, while considering the above suggestions, the following checklist initially prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal Agencies provides further guidelines on ways to make websites more accessible for persons with disabilities.

This practical advice, as well as another checklist, are available at:

Satisfying all of these items does not necessarily mean that a website complies with ADA, but it will improve the website’s accessibility and decrease the risk of litigation. Again, an Expert or Web Accessibility Consulting & Services provider should be engaged to conduct a comprehensive review of your website.
Nothing brings you closer to reality than actually facing it. This is the premise of my latest attempt to spread awareness about Web Accessibility.
For better understand, here is a link in which a practical example is shown to make the websites’ user experience better by following the guidelines. Also, it tells the issues affecting various users on the internet with solutions.
You can make your website ADA compliant in an easy way by consulting the professionals, who can do this job effortlessly. Also, you can get a quick website audit from To Be ADA Compliant that offers complete web accessibility consulting & services in California, USA.

Resource: https://dev.to/chinchang/an-interactive-and-practical-introduction-to-web-accessibility-22o1