How to Create a Robust Web Accessibility Policy Page

Listen to Podcast Episode 1 (MP3 File Download)

This is the Accessible.org podcast. My name is Kris Rivenburgh and today I’m going to cover the components of a web accessibility policy page.

Now the good thing is a policy page isn’t overly difficult to create but – and it is important, it can actually play a major part in thwarting or preventing a demand letter or lawsuit. But there are a few things that you could get wrong that could be extremely detrimental to your efforts in preventing that lawsuit or demand letter.

So first, let’s start off with a skeleton web accessibility template.

You will want to state your policy in there, and then you will want to list the standards you strive to meet.

Then you’ll identify specific ways that you meet those standards, and next, you will detail how you came to incorporate the accessibility measures that you took to meet the standards.

And then you will stagdteompliance laws and requirements that you believe you meet and or exceed, and then you’ll invite feedback, and then last, you’ll add some helpful resources.

And so now I’m going to provide some more detail and help flesh out that skeleton so you understand exactly what I mean.

When you have your page, the first thing you’re going to do is provide a clear page title and a headline, and this could be something as simple as, KrisRivenburgh.com Web Accessibility Policy.

Just something generic that covers exactly what the page is, and that’s just best practices.

And then, in case someone has arrived at the page seeking assistance, you’ll want you offer support.

So, do you need assistance accessing something on our website? Call our 24-7 phone number or email us at whatever email is – all you’re doing here is just in case someone is seeking support, you’re providing it, and you’re giving that to them.

Next, you want to state your policy, and this doesn’t have to be overly complex. You just want to make sure that you show a genuine commitment. So here’s an example:

At KrisRivenburgh.com we’re committed to accessibility. It is our policy to ensure that everyone, including persons with disabilities, has full and equal access to our digital offerings.

Something as simple as that and then next, you’re going to list what standards you strive to meet.

So WCAG 2.0 AA is probably what you’re going to have here. If you have PDFs on your website, you’ll want to include the PDF Universal Accessibility standard as well.

So something like, KrisRivenburgh.com strives to meet the following standards. You list the standards you followed… you are striving to me and then to ensure our digital offerings our ADA compliant. So something as simple of that. If you want to go to 2.1, you can put 2.1 there as well.

Next, you’re going to identify ways that you meet the above standards, and you’re going to want to list several bullet points that show, that go and lend support to the fact that you are genuine and your commitment.

Now I’m not going to list off every example I have here, but one could be, Our website is navigable without a mouse by keyboard only – something that meets WCAG 2.0 AA something that is essential to accessibility – that would be a staple right here that you have in your bullet points.

And I would list several bullet points and just specifically identify what you’ve done to make your website, app, software, document etc. accessible – and at the end of that, beyond our existing remediation measures, we continually review our website internally and independently to ensure we adhere to best practices in web accessibility.

Again, this just shows that you are committed. It’s a genuine commitment. It’s an ongoing commitment. Just because you’ve done XYZ so far, it doesn’t mean you’re going to stop there. You’re continuing to get better, and I think that’s important to just show that it doesn’t stop and your efforts are not exhaustive and you haven’t just done one or two things and then stopped and then forgot all about accessibility.

The next thing you’re going to do is detail how you came to incorporate the accessibility measures listed. This could be something like appointing an internal web accessibility coordinator. This could be retaining a third party, independent web accessibility specialist or agency to audit your digital offerings, to remediate your digital offerings. A consultant, if you hired a consultant to advise you on strategy and best practices in web accessibility and rolling in web accessibility of disability training courses – these things all count, having your website annually reviewed for accessibility.

If you’ve employed user testing, which would be huge. It’s a huge bullet point. I’m actually going to go over user testing in a separate podcast but user testing is where you have people with disabilities test your website to ensure that it is indeed practically accessible and there are no barriers or obstacles that are preventing them for accessing content or engaging with your website. That’s another huge bullet point that you can add here, and I’m going to do a whole podcast over that.

And then you could also say that we invite feedback from our users to improve our accessibility. That is number four on my list, and then next you’ll state the laws and the requirements that you believe you meet and or exceed.

So, of course, the Americans with Disabilities Act is going to be here. Section 508 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act may also be included. You may also incorporates state laws such as the Unruh Act in the and the New York Human Rights Law – they may also be in – in – in this section, so it’s going to depend on who you are and what you want to address and maybe even where you’re at.

And obviously, if you’re listening to this podcast from another country, you’re going to address laws that are specific to your country.
But you want be thorough in this, and I do create custom web accessibility policy pages for different entities. So you may want to contact me about creating custom web accessible policy page just to make sure yours is as robust as possible and spans the appropriate laws.

But whatever the case, you’re going to address the laws that you are attempting to comply with and then you will invite feedback.

An example could be KrisRivenburgh.com is committed to accessibility and we’re always seeking ways to improve. If you know of a way we can improve, we’d love to hear more. You can email us at your email.

And then last, you’re going to add helpful resources. This could be just you linking out to ADA.gov, Section508.gov, Accessible.org – this is just a good way to cap off your accessibility policy.

One strategic mistake that I see actually being advocated online is for you to list out all of the ways in which you are inaccessible or where you haven’t addressed accessibility. And I can’t think how that would be any more wrong for the general population.

There may be instances in specific certain circumstances where it could be a positive. But in most cases I see that as opening yourself up for a demand letter and here’s why:

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a strict liability law. And what that means is there are no excuses if you violate the American of Disabilities Act. So if you are in violation, that means you are open for a lawsuit. And if you go ahead and list out the ways in which you are, your website is inaccessible or you’re working at it – again, there are no excuses.

So you’ve just said, hey, here’s how you can sue us and you’ve given the plaintiff’s lawyer a roadmap which they may not have ever found, especially if you’ve done a good job of addressing accessibility so far.

I always recommend being positive with your accessibility policy, and that’s not deceptive in any way because again we’ve said, we’re striving to be accessible. We’re continuing to evolve, we’re continuing to get better. We’re just not detailing exactly how we are inaccessible. And then we’re listing all the ways in which we are accessible.

So we’re not going to talk about what we don’t have. We’re going to talk about what we do have and internally we’re going to continue to address what we don’t have until we do have it. But there’s no need to say that to the world unless there is some very specific circumstance.

And because in this podcast I’m talking about accessibility policies. I’m not talking about a VPAT. So a VPAT is a voluntary product accessibility template where you do list out where you are and are not accessible, where you are, where you do and do not conform to WCAG 2.0 AA. So that would be something, that would be an instance where you do say it. But that’s not an accessibility policy.

So it’s a case by case basis, right. I can’t name off every single last scenario where you might or might not want to have listed out where areas in which you are not accessible, but in general I think that’s horrible advice and I would never advise it.

And I think it’s short-sighted on their part because they’re living in a flowery world where they have access to developers and they know how to make their website conform with WCAG. Not everybody does that. It’s not always easy to do, especially for more complex websites.

So I would never, as a general policy, advise for you to list out how you are inaccessible, because if I were a plaintiff’s lawyer, which I’m not, and I never will be, but if I were, I would take that and go, oh, well, you just told me exactly what to put in my lawsuit as my claim for you not being your, your website not being accessible.

That’s important to consider when you that’s actually vital to consider when you are creating an accessibility policy. I’m going to stop the podcast right here.

If you have any questions for me or would like to have me write your accessibility policy, you can email me at kris@accessible.org or if you just want to browse the services that I offer you can go to Accessible.org and find out more about how you can become better in compliance with the laws and make your website accessible.

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