Accessibility statements – What are they for?

Most websites you visit will have a link somewhere called ‘Accessibility’ usually found within the footer of a website. The content of this page can vary greatly but tend to follow one of the following themes.

  • What disabled people need to do to use their website, it’ll talk about assistive technology like screen readers and magnification, keyboard shortcuts
  • The websites aim to be accessible to a set of guidelines like the WCAG 2.0
  • The built environment. The facilities they have available to visitors to their physical place of business

designing website layout on digital tablet computer with a cup of coffee, cookie and stylus pen

All of these issues however are important to your customers, but they can’t work in isolation, I believe all of these issues need to be included to some degree.

You would think being an accessibility company we would have the ‘perfect’ statement, we have opted for a short, non-technical accessibility statement, it’s simply a pledge that accessibility is important, but if we get something wrong please get in touch and tell us.

To build an inclusive organisation, to make accessibility part of your company brand you need to think about what it really means to your customers and what is important to them.

Telling your customer how to use assitive technology

The majority of disabled customers visiting your site, who are already using assistive technology probably wont need a list of shortcuts or to be told how to navigate a web page. They’ve already managed to use their computer, open up an internet browser and navigate to your website. Instead of telling people generic information on navigating a website include specifics – is there something unique on your site? There are many solutions to create an accessible website, so instead focus on the unique aspects on your website. Do you have a video player that can be started and paused by using the enter key on a keyboard? If you do then use the accessibility page as an opportunity to explain these details.

Blind person working on computer with braille display and screen

Visually impaired working on computer with assistive technology; braille display and screen reader.

Stating the guidelines you are working to

It is important to have a guideline to work to when making improvements to your website, and it’s great to tell your customers what you are aiming for. Remember though, these guidelines don’t necessarily mean your website will work perfectly for every person with any disability. They are a compromise, a best solution for the majority of people and so even if you meet every guideline within the accessibility guidelines some people may still struggle. Don’t hide behind the guidelines, don’t assume simply because you’ve met them someone can use your website.

Websites are also always changing and being updated, it could well be you’ve made an update which has resulted in a guideline not being met. My advice would be, let people know the guidelines you are working towards, be open about any you haven’t yet met but are working on and most importantly offer a point of contact if the customer has any feedback.

Talk about the built environment

If someone is planning on visiting your business they may well want to know what facilities are there so they can plan their journey. What better way than visiting your website, looking at the accessibility page and letting your customers know what they can expect when coming to see you. If however all your efforts have gone into creating an accessible physical experience and you haven’t made your website accessible your customer may not be able to see what is available to them. If your website can not be navigated around, they may not even find the web page detailing the great work you are doing.

Accessible lift

Call on glass front door of building and plaque with image of disabled person in wheelchair and people with walking stick

By all means, absolutely shout from the roof tops about the work you’re doing to make all customers feel welcome and included, but make sure your digital experience replicates the physical experience.

The perfect statement

  • Talks about unique accessibility features on the website
  • Is open about issues you are aware of and working towards
  • Tells people accessibility is important to you
  • Gives them a contact point for feedback
  • Details or links to a page about your physical space (if you have one) and accessibility considerations

Accessibility star

Is there anything you think companies should include? Have you come across any great statements? Get in touch and tell us about them.