Dealing with website accessibility – prioritise rather than panic!

15 May 2017

Sometimes accessibility has negative connotations for digital teams. It reminds them of those tasks they should have done to make their website fully compliant with accessibility standards, but just didn’t have time to complete. It also might be that they aren’t knowledgeable about accessibility guidelines and all that needs to be done.

For a small central team or an individual web manager, achieving compliance can feel overwhelming. It may seem that there are too many complex tasks to complete or that extensive training for content managers may also be required.

When accessibility is viewed as solely a compliance issue which is not straightforward or even hard to overcome, there will be some teams who choose to put off tackling the problem. Then it becomes all too easy to keep avoiding what needs to be done.

Accessibility Stock Image - Man Under Tree

Prioritise rather than panic

If you’re in that camp, Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 18th is the perfect time to adopt a fresh approach to improving accessibility.  

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Many are in the same position as you. Years and years of analysis from Sitemorse has shown just how many websites aren’t compliant and don’t meet required standards.

The best way forward is to be level-headed and work on a roadmap where accessibility becomes genuinely achievable and sustainable.  The secret to this is prioritisation.  Work on those steps which are really going to make a difference.

Four steps to a plan

To proceed, make a simple plan and stick to it. This can be done in four steps.

Firstly, read up on the standard and identify a list of all the improvements that need to be carried out. A tool like Sitemorse can help you to spot the critical issues which can be assessed using automation.

Secondly, work out what it will take to implement everything on your list and its relative impact. Ask questions such as:

  • How long will it take?
  • Who needs to do this – individual content managers or the central team?
  • What needs to be done to make compliance sustainable?
  • Is there any training involved?
  • What impact will any change have on the user experience and improving accessibility for different groups or users?

Thirdly, look at all these variables to work out priority areas. As a starting point, you could use our ten suggested priorities for improving web accessibility.

Prioritise what will genuinely make a difference for your entire user base. If training site managers, what will help them to complete more than just on task? Also go for some easy wins to maintain momentum.

Finally, work these priorities into a realistic plan.

Focus on progress

Improving accessibility doesn’t need to build up into something that feels impossible to achieve. Be pragmatic and move forward. Make progress in small steps, and keep positive.

By engaging with your content managers and making small improvements you can keep up the momentum and get accessibility under control, and make a real difference to your website. It also means you can celebrate on next year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day!