When redesigning a website these days, most businesses include making that website conformant to WCAG 2.0 level AA guidelines part of the project requirements. Making a website conformant is an effort that requires collaboration between design, development and copywriting, and the result is a site that provides an improved user experience for those with disabilities. However, all too often, websites quickly fall out of compliance, creating a poor experience for site users and a legal liability as well. If you are thinking about making your website compliant and planning for post-launch too, or you have a WCAG 2.0 compliant website but no formal plan to keep it compliant, read on. Similar to keeping your CMS updated, staying in conformance requires employee training, scheduled check-ins and periodic audits. Explore best practices for keeping your website compliant.
Follow your Accessibility Policy
An Accessibility Policy is part of having an accessible site, and one of the main features of the policy is a schedule for periodic audits. An accessibility review could be performed as often as monthly and as infrequently as yearly, but most companies find that quarterly reviews hit the sweet-spot of being frequent enough to quickly find violations that have been introduced without having the site being constantly crawled.
Website accessibility audits are a combination of a manual review of the results gathered by automatic site-crawling software and manual testing with a screen reader and keyboard. All issues are reported so they can be fixed, and all false-positive and third-party exceptions are presented in a report. A typical site’s review takes only a few hours and provides piece of mind that an organization is maintaining WCAG 2.0 Level AA conformance.
Keep Track of Updates to a Page
Sometimes a mistake can be made in an earlier version of a page, then fixed during a later review. When CMS’ are updated or changes to a page are deployed, it is possible to revert to an earlier, out-of-compliance page version. For that reason, and many others, it is important to have a CMS that can support versioning, or keep track of what changes are made when and by whom. This may not be the point at which you find a problem, but it can be invaluable to try to track down why an issue pops up later down the road.
Check in with Your Content Editor
If you notice consistent issues from a particular page or group of pages, it can be worth hosting periodic training sessions for your content editor(s). As a result, you will have an extra set of eyes at the literal entry level. If, after a series of automatic audits and manual check-ins, no violations are being surfaced, you can consider cutting down audits to twice yearly instead of quarterly. Be sure to update your Accessibility Policy to document that change in procedure.
Your Site Visitors Will be Appreciative
You have made a commitment to help make the Internet more accessible for the 57 million Americans with a disability by including the ADA standards in your redesign. Now, it is equally important to keep up the responsibility of minor updates and check-ins to stay committed to that goal. The good news is that when you are ready for another website redesign, you won’t have as far to go. Being proactive about how you maintain your site will help your business stay relevant and inclusive well into the future. Need a partner who can help keep your website in compliance? Talk with one of our website compliance experts.
Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC)
ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide.