How to Write an Accessibility Policy

There is no one exact way to write an accessibility policy, but there are sections that are essential to any policy. This guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to write an accessibility policy based on our template.

When reading, think about which sections work best for what your organization is trying to accomplish. We wrote this guide with ADA Title II public entities in mind, but this guide can help any entity: corporation, company, non-profit, etc.

Continue reading to download our accessibility policy template for free by subscribing to Accessible.org.

What is an Accessibility Policy?

An accessibility policy outlines your organization’s commitment to digital accessibility and is the centralized location where accessibility specifics are outlined. Items in the policy include:

  • roles
  • responsibilities
  • digital assets
  • procedures
  • processes
  • deadlines
  • penalties

What is the Purpose of an Accessibility Policy?

A policy sets an organizational approach to accessibility and serves as an internal document that guides employees, staff, and contractors on accessibility.

Do I Need an Accessibility Policy?

An accessibility policy is only necessary if required by law. However, for organizations with larger digital accessibility projects, a policy-type document naturally results from the process of organizing, planning, and managing the project.

Small businesses typically do not have an accessibility policy. When any combination of more digital assets and more people involved arises, then an accessibility policy is extremely useful.

Difference from an Accessibility Statement

The primary difference between an accessibility policy and an accessibility statement is that a policy is an internal document and a statement is public-facing. From there, the difference is a matter of what information and details are relevant for each.

For example, the public doesn’t need to know who is in charge of accessibility-related support, but they do need to be able to contact support for assistance.

Many people – including some companies in the accessibility space – think that a policy is a statement, but this obviously incorrect.

Here are quick definitions to help you distinguish the two documents.

An accessibility policy is an internal document that organizes and sets out what needs to be done to ensure accessibility.

An accessibility statement is a public-facing notice on your website that states a commitment to accessibility and provides practical information on how they can use the website, provide feedback, or get support.

Download our free accessibility statement template.

Accessibility Policy Template

We’ve created a customizable, fill-in-the-blank template that you can download use for your internal purposes absolutely free with a subscription to Accessible.org.

Subscribe to Accessible.org to download our accessibility policy template.

Section 1: Statement of Commitment

Everything starts with your commitment to accessibility. This is where all of the investment in accessibility flows from. You can make this as long or as short as you’d like, but a simple statement will suffice.

  • Purpose: Express your organization’s commitment to accessibility.
  • How to Write:
    • Start with a clear statement that plainly states your commitment.
    • There’s no need to elaborate too much as your actions will speak much louder than words.

Example: “[Organization Name] is committed to accessibility and ensuring access to people with disabilities throughout its digital experiences.”

Section 2: Define the Purpose

A purpose tells everyone internally understands why the policy exists. Obviously there is a commitment, but what exactly does the accessibility policy document itself do?

  • Purpose: Clarify the reason(s) for the policy’s existence.
  • How to Write:
    • State the reasons for the policy.

Example: “This policy outlines the guidelines, practices, and procedures to ensure that [Organization Name’s] digital assets and content are accessible to all users and compliant with the web accessibility requirements under Title II of the ADA.”

Section 3: Policy Scope

The scope section is crucial as it specifies which digital assets are covered by the policy. This section affects many others including roles, responsibilities, budget, etc. so make sure there is a scope. If you’ve already taken inventory of your digital assets and content, you can basically copy and paste the list here.

  • Purpose: Specify what the policy covers.
  • How to Write:
    • List all digital content and platforms that fall under this policy, such as websites, mobile apps, and documents.
    • Be detailed. State exactly what assets and what content.

Example: “The policy applies to all digital content managed by [Organization Name] including websites, mobile apps, and digital documents.”

Section 4: Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Assigning responsibilities ensures that specific roles within your organization are accountable for implementing and maintaining the accessibility policy. This section clearly defines the different roles in executing the accessibility policy and their responsibilities.

  • Purpose: Define roles and responsibilities for implementing the policy.
  • How to Write:
    • Identify key roles such as Accessibility Coordinator, Technical Lead, Content Manager, and Compliance Officer.
    • Outline specific responsibilities for each role.

Example:

Accessibility Coordinator:

  • Responsible for executing this policy and ensuring WCAG 2.1 AA conformance for all digital assets and content.
  • Enforce accessibility policy.
  • Conduct regular accessibility assessments of digital assets and content.
  • Provide feedback and direction on how to improve accessibility.

Section 5: Compliance

This section specifies the digital accessibility laws your organization seeks to be in compliance with.

  • Purpose: Ensure compliance with legal requirements.
  • How to Write: State the laws and guidelines your organization follows.

Example: “[Organization Name] seeks to be in compliance with all requirements for the web accessibility rule under Title I and Title II of the ADA as well as all digital accessibility requirements under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.”

Section 6: Standards

This section defines the specific accessibility standards your organization adheres to in order to ensure digital accessibility. Usually this will be WCAG 2.1 AA. However, 2.0 AA and 2.2 AA are also options.

  • Purpose: To specify technical standards that will be followed in making digital assets and content accessible.
  • How to Write: State the exact technical standard to be used.

Example:

“[Organization Name] strives to be in conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 conformance level AA for all websites, mobile apps, web content, and documents.

Section 7: Procurement

A procurement section establishes processes in not only hiring digital accessibility service providers, but also choosing ordinary products and services from third-party vendors.

This section sets out how accessibility service providers are to be evaluated as well as what requisites are necessary for services and products. A VPAT / ACR requirement that encompasses WCAG 2.1 AA or another standard is usually included in this section.

  • Purpose: Ensure third-party vendors and products meet accessibility standards.
  • How to Write:
    • Detail criteria for selecting accessibility service providers.
    • Outline requirements for product and service selection.

Example:

Accessibility Services:

  • Methodology: Clarity around and commitment to the complete manual evaluation, remediation, and testing of digital assets and content.
  • Reputation and references: Overwhelmingly positive references, reviews, and reputation in providing high quality accessibility services. Not associated with overlays, overlay widgets, or accessibility plugins.
  • Support and Maintenance: Availability of ongoing support, maintenance, and training services in efforts to maintain WCAG 2.1 AA conformance.

Section 8: Training

Training is instrumental to establishing an organizational culture of prioritizing accessibility. Not only does the training itself demonstrate a real commitment, but it enables employees and contractors to put accessibility into practice.

  • Purpose: Educate employees, staff, and contractors on accessibility best practices.
  • How to Write:
    • Specify courses, programs, and/or activities for training.
    • Name the interval at which training is to occur.

Example: “All employees, staff, and contractors must participate in WCAG 2.1 AA training annually. Those involved on the digital team must take training on a biannual basis.”

Notes: Leadership including CEOs, directors, and other leaders within the organization should be required to attend training for multiple reasons. One reason is they write messages and create documents. Another reason is to set a precedent that accessibility is taken seriously.

Another note is that the same training can be taken multiple times. Accessibility information comes in layers and going through the same training will help participants reinforce best practices as well as learn new material they missed the first time.

Section 9: Timeline

Establish a timeline that provides a clear schedule for audits, remediation, training, and other initiatives. This calendar helps in planning and tracking progress and gives the accessibility committee an accurate outlook of when to expect completion of initiatives. This is essential for meeting compliance deadlines.

  • Purpose: Establish a timeline for audits, remediation, and training.
  • How to Write:
    • Break initiatives into phases.
    • Outline specific start and completion dates.

Example:

  • Website 1 Audit:
    • Start: July 1, 2024
    • Completion: August 1, 2024

Note: Plan your timelines conservatively as accessibility initiatives to run over time. Also remember that if you are reliant upon third-party providers that you cannot control their delivery speed so cushion expectations by adding additional time for unforeseen delays.

Section 10: Budget Allocation

This section details the financial investment required to execute on the initiatives in the policy. The budget section may include cost of services, wages, bonuses, and salaries, and allocation for any accessibility-related purchases such as training.

  • Purpose: Allocate resources for accessibility initiatives.
  • How to Write:
    • Outline the budget how it is divided across different activities.

Example: “A total budget of $125,000 has been allotted for digital accessibility and ADA compliance for the years 2024 and 2025.”

Section 11: Documentation and Reporting

This section outlines how activities will be recorded and reported which means there is transparency and accountability that result from the policy.

  • Purpose: Maintain records on the execution of the policy.
  • How to Write:
    • Describe how documentation will be organized and how progress will reported.

Example: “All accessibility documentation will be stored in a centralized hub, with progress reported monthly by the IT and Marketing employees.”

Section 12: Accessibility Statement

Publishing an accessibility statement is highly, highly recommended. This section explains how the statement will be created and maintained.

  • Purpose: State commitment in a public-facing document. Provide practical information and methods of contact.
  • How to Write:
    • Draft statement wording.
    • List information to be included in statement.

Example: “An accessibility statement will be published on our websites, detailing our commitment and providing a contact method for feedback.”

Section 13: Feedback and Support

There must be a seamless process in place for receiving, acting, and responding to feedback and support. This section details how feedback and support will be handled.

  • Purpose: Establish a mechanism for receiving and addressing accessibility feedback.
  • How to Write:
    • Outline the process for feedback and support from start to finish.

Example: “Feedback on accessibility will be reviewed by the Accessibility Coordinator and responded to within 48 hours.”

Final Thoughts

An accessibility policy centralizes your efforts to making your organization’s digital experiences accessible. A policy can be comprised of even more sections than we have included, but also remember that it is a living document that can and should be added to and updated as your organization gains experience and better understanding.

Resources

Accessible.org offers everything you need to follow compliance best practices and meet WCAG 2.1 AA conformance.

Do you need help getting started with your project? Hire us for accessibility consulting.

Do you need a training program? The WCAG Course is the perfect, foundational training for your employees to learn accessibility and start putting lessons into practice right now.