When it comes to accessibility, many people want prepackaged, one and done solutions to make their companies and websites accessible without much effort. Instead of regarding accessibility as a standard to constantly meet, they instead regard it as a problem to solve. In regarding accessibility as a problem instead of a standard, people want to seek out ‘magic’ solutions.
However, when it comes to creating accessibility, there is no ‘magic’ solution. The only way to achieve accessibility is through meaningful, hard work. Research, continuous improvement, and accessibility audits will aid you in creating and maintaining effective accessibility for your company.
When we say there are no ‘magic’ solutions to create accessibility within your company quickly and easily, we mean it. If a ‘magic’ solution existed, there would be no reason for lawsuits to exist, because all companies would implement such a solution to avoid them. Instead, 2,387 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2022, because websites like the one for Elon University weren’t accessible.
Research is the first step needed to combat this problem, and it’s also the first step many companies skip in the search for quick and easy solutions. Research is undoubtedly hard work, and may yield unsatisfying results, like the need to completely revamp your website if it doesn’t meet WCAG standards. However, conducting the proper research to begin with can lower your risk of a lawsuit due to inaccessibility.
Research consists of things like focus groups, with the voices of people with disabilities at the forefront, and professional development, in the form of webinars aimed at increasing your knowledge of accessibility matters. Beginning with these steps forms a solid basis for good accessibility, but is by no means the only step.
Continuous improvement, or the ongoing effort to improve services, products, or processes, is a vital part of accessibility. It is also a huge part of the reason that there is no ‘magic’ solution to accessibility. As your company is constantly evolving, so are accessibility needs, especially of your website.
There are many ways you can ensure continuous improvement of both yourself and your company. You can set S.M.A.R.T. goals to strive toward and achieve when it comes to accessibility, to give yourself a benchmark. Additionally, you should create and maintain relationships with your community: only a close relationship with your community (and customers) can help you understand their specific accessibility needs.
Another critical step in continuous improvement often overlooked is what to do next after accessibility mistakes. Making mistakes is inevitable and is a part of life: what to do next is the important part. Apologizing and striving to do better and making those resolutions public can mean the difference between your customers and the public trusting you in the future or not. Continuous improvement is difficult but cannot be skipped – accessibility is not easy!
An estimated 98 percent of websites don’t offer full accessibility to users. An accessibility audit, or an evaluation of how your website meets accessibility guidelines, can help you avoid being lumped in with that statistic. Though it may be tempting to make accessibility audits a one-and-done sort of thing, it’s important to make running them a regular part of your website maintenance, to ensure you continually keep yourself on top of accessibility standards.
Accessibility audits are where many businesses frequently fail. Of the top million websites, over 51 million “distinct accessibility errors” were noted. These errors likely could have been caught by accessibility audits, but accessibility audits are a step often deemed too hard or too time consuming to take on, usually by people wanting an easy solution to accessibility. However, with all the steps that go into ensuring accessibility show, there isn’t an easy solution.
It’s important to know that regular accessibility audits, like continuous improvement, ensures that you are both operating to the highest of accessibility standards and lowers your risk of being sued. Keeping on top of accessibility audits must be a regular part of your website maintenance, regardless of its difficulty level. It is one small part of accessibility but makes up a huge portion of the hard work.
Because accessibility is so critical, it’s no surprise that many seek a quick and easy solution to implement it. However, there is no such thing. Implementing accessibility takes hard work, and some steps to get there include research, continuous improvement, and accessibility audits to keep you on the right track. Accessibility is a lengthy process but is very worth it.