Now that Section 508 accessibility standards in the U.S. have been refreshed and a deadline has been set, what are the next steps? Who is responsible for ensuring that you have an accessible website by Jan. 18, 2018? The answer is twofold: your organization as well as the agencies you work with.
Think of web accessibility compliance like physical accessibility compliance—wheelchair ramps, automatic doors, and so on. At one point in time, your organization likely adjusted your thinking and made it a priority to better serve both customers and employees in your physical space. The process may have been taken months, even years, and at times it was undoubtedly challenging. However, you made it through. It’s time to take that attitude toward digital accessibility.
The first thing your team can do is familiarize yourselves with accessibility and the global Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG). Read blog posts and e-books, take certification courses, or attend webinars together. This will get your feet wet and help you understand what types of webpage content needs to be accessible:
- Images and videos
- PDF documents
- Intranet communications
Assess Your Team’s Roles
Determine who is involved in your company’s website at all levels, including but not limited to web developers, designers, content contributors, marketers, and managers. Itemize everyone’s website responsibilities and how their jobs might be influenced by accessibility efforts. If you aren’t sure where to start, start with the Creating Accessible Websites Series for Web Designers, Web Developers, and Web Editors.
Websites are developed and maintained in any number of ways. Some sites are managed entirely in-house, while many companies rely on outside agencies for different services. This could include your IT department, content management system (CMS), web design agency, and so much more.
You may rely on these agencies for their services, but the responsibility still falls on your organization to work with companies that also make accessibility a priority.
One of the first steps is to make sure all of your agencies that provide website-related services are on board. Find out the following:
- Are your agencies aware of accessibility standards?
- What measures are they taking to ensure their product or service is accessible?
- If they do not plan to take action, what other companies can you consider working with?
In light of the Section 508 Refresh in the U.S., there are still many unanswered questions regarding digital accessibility. To learn more about the refresh and what steps you and your team need to take before January 2018, watch our recent webinar, Section 508 Refresh: Now What?