Various partners and players within an organization or a campaign may wish they could somehow help to ensure a website is accessible to people with disabilities, but they aren't developers or techies. It's true that the code and underlying systems will be critical to the site's usability, but it's not true that others can't positively influence accessibility. In fact, anyone can, even with zero tech knowledge. Here are five ways.
1. Make a personal commitment to accessibility
Organizations may not be swayed overnight and not everyone may realize the benefits of accessibility yet, but individuals can still decide for themselves to commit to improving the web experience for people with disabilities.
This will be different for everyone. For some, it might mean deciding that from now on, if their name is attached to a project, the product is going to be accessible (or to the extent they can influence it). Or, it might mean that right now they're going to learn about the key benefits and challenges of creating an accessible web presence for their next role.
The form it takes is probably less important than the promise, because accessibility starts with a commitment to accessibility.
2. Ask if it's accessible
Anybody can do this.
A new website is getting ready to launch next month. Is it accessible?
If the organization has an accessibility compliance policy already, the question can be framed to align with it. If there's no accessibility policy, maybe this question leads to exploring why not and what can be done to change that. This simple question can spark improvements.
3. Ask how they know it's accessible
As web accessibility lawsuits continue at alarming rates and more organizations understand that accessibility is increasingly an expectation, some web teams or vendors are aware that the answer to the question of whether a website is accessible is supposed to be "yes."
So it's time for a follow-up question: how do they know? Often, individuals who are well-versed in accessibility love educating others on the impacts and best practices, and they'll welcome the opportunity to share that the website has been tested according to WCAG 2.1 standards, for example, how it was tested, and by whom.
They also know that it's a perfectly fair question, understanding that it requires a certain level of know-how and that others may want (or need) to confirm that their website is being handled by experts with the necessary knowledge.
Refusal to answer this question or pointing to automated testing as a way to show compliance might be red flags.
4. Encourage some accessibility basics immediately
The effort of accessibility fixes and the impact of accessibility fixes aren't always perfectly aligned.
There are some basics that can be handled relatively easily and quickly that can really improve accessibility right away. If the team is unwilling to implement a comprehensive accessibility strategy right now, they can still make some of these updates quickly and should be encouraged to do so.
- They can add alt text to images.
- They can test and update colors for sufficient contrast.
- They can add unique page titles to every page.
These changes are not difficult and they go a long way toward accessibility.
5. Learn more about accessibility
People can follow through on their commitment to accessibility by learning more about it.
The reason this can immediately improve accessibility is that once someone is aware of a best (or worst) practice, they'll start spotting them. Without being a techie, someone may be able to notice that there are no captions for the latest video or that the colors in the new marketing banner are hard to see and should be checked for contrast.
Here are a few resources to continue learning about accessibility: