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Writing an Accessibility Statement: 4 Mistakes to Avoid

Nov 9, 2023


Your website’s accessibility statement shows that you’re committed to providing all users with an equivalent experience. It’s an important page for many users with disabilities: People might check your accessibility statement before visiting any other page, simply to determine whether they’ll be able to use your website with assistive technology (AT).

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) do not require accessibility statements, but it’s still a good idea to publish one. And in some cases, accessibility statements may be required for compliance. For example, the Revised Section 508 Standards of the Rehabilitation Act, which applies to public institutions in the United States, requires accessibility statements that follow a specific format. 


To write an effective accessibility statement, avoid these common mistakes


Your accessibility statement must be accurate, descriptive, and easy to read — otherwise, it’s not doing its job. Here’s how to avoid four common mistakes.


1. Using technical language or jargon


An accessibility statement is not a technical document. It’s not intended to prove compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other non-discrimination laws — so you don’t need to use legal language. 

Instead, write for real, human users:


  • Provide definitions for unusual terms and acronyms. For example, if you test your content against WCAG, explain what WCAG is and why it’s important. 
  • Keep your sentences short. Focus on how accessibility impacts real users, and clearly state your commitment to people with disabilities.
  • Where appropriate, use lists, subheadings, and images to break up your content into readable sections. 

Related: Avoid Jargon When Writing Web Content


2. Not being specific about your goals


“We want to provide an accessible experience for all users" is a great starting point, but it’s not specific enough for AT users. Ask questions, then provide clear answers: 


  • What standards are you using to test your content?
  • Are you auditing your content using automated tests, manual tests, or a combination of both?
  • What’s your long-term goal, and how will you accomplish that goal?


Most websites aim for Level A/AA conformance with the latest version of WCAG. If that’s your goal, make sure it’s part of your accessibility statement — even if you still have accessibility barriers that prevent conformance. 

You should also list known accessibility barriers, including compatibility issues with certain types of AT or web browsers. Where possible, provide timelines for remediations. Instead of saying, “we’re working on it,” use specific language: “We expect to fix this issue by January of 2024.” 

Finally, if you provide alternative options for accessing content (for example, a plaintext version of your website), make sure to highlight those on your accessibility statement.

Related: What Is a Web Accessibility Policy? 5 Factors to Consider


3. Not providing users with a way to submit feedback


Users may visit your accessibility statement after encountering a barrier. They want to tell you about the issue — and you should be prepared to receive (and act upon) their feedback. 

Accessibility statements should include detailed contact information. Remember, people have different abilities and preferences, so give them options: In addition to an email address, consider including a telephone number and an online feedback form. Some websites also include information about their processes for handling complaints. 

Related: Getting Feedback From Users to Improve Accessibility


4. Hiding your accessibility statement 


Ideally, your accessibility statement will be accessible from any page of your website. Consider including it in your header or footer menu (and make sure that the menu appears consistently throughout your website). 

At the very least, your accessibility statement should be hyperlinked from your contact page. If you don’t have any links to your statement, people will need to use a search engine to find it — which can create a bad impression.

Related: What Does Digital Accessibility Success Look Like?


Make sure your accessibility statement is authentic and accurate


We strongly recommend working with an experienced accessibility partner when authoring your accessibility statement. Accessibility experts can verify the accuracy of your conformance claims and help you establish a support process for AT users. 

And when an accessibility statement has third-party support, users will understand that you’re taking inclusive design seriously — even if you’re still working on content improvements. 

To learn more, contact us to speak with a subject matter expert or download our free eBook: Developing the Accessibility Mindset.

Use our free Website Accessibility Checker to scan your site for ADA and WCAG compliance.

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