Are third party content suppliers making your website inaccessible?

  • Author: Natalie Collins
  • Date: 23 Sep 2015

There could be one thing preventing you from having a wonderfully content and media rich accessible website – your content supplier!

There’s no doubting that today in order to lure more customers to your website and get that stickiness your marketers desire, a fundamental characteristic is engaging content, whether that be articles, podcasts or video. Here at Media Access Australia and Access iQ we are constantly feeding that hungry news hound and understand the challenges. With more companies opting for dedicated content suppliers to inject their websites with engaging content it is little wonder that a new challenge arises for website managers needing to ensure websites are accessible.

So what do you need to do to ensure your content is accessible? Whether you’re working with existing providers or a new procurement, the following advice could save your website.

Incorporate accessibility into procurement processes

Apart from having web content audited for accessibility, the best place to start is with the procurement processes you have in place for your suppliers.

Embedding a requirement for third-party content suppliers to provide content to you in a WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant format is an effective first step. They may require help to begin with but intelligent providers will realise it’s in their best interests (and a competitive advantage) to make their content accessible from the outset.

It is common to expect web content to be compliant and the requirement to be added to Request for Tender and quotation documents. However, my experience is that this is rarely if ever tested during the purchasing process. It doesn’t take much to have a specialist complete a test and validate content for accessibility before you have completed that purchase. It could save you money, your sanity and a life free of PR nightmares.

What to do with existing contracts

So what do you do if there isn’t a requirement for your supplier to make their content accessible in your contract or if you want to change the requirement for your supplier? They may be willing to assist you and share the cost but let’s be realistic, nobody wants to add to their costs and most organisations will want to stick to delivering what is written into a contract.

It may be a combination of leading by example, educating your supplier and pointing out the benefits of making content accessible in their business. The provider’s willingness will work wonders to influence decisions when the contract is up for renewal.

Regardless of your status here are some useful tips to ensure your web content remains accessible:

1. Include and test accessibility in procurement

It is not just about including a statement for all content to be compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. The best investment you can make is to include an accessibility test of vendor content and have this completed by an independent party.

2. Build in regular accessibility tests

Best practice would also have you regularly test or spot check accessibility throughout the content service provision and have these tests completed by a reputed independent party.

3. Lead by example

Ensure that all of your web content is accessible and lead by example. If you can demonstrate how accessible content can be created and maintained it is easier to expect that of your suppliers.

4. Educate your suppliers

There is no easy way around this, sometimes you have to educate your suppliers. This may be as easy as pointing them in the direction of useful resources, such as the Access iQ website and training provided by Media Access Australia, or you may need to assist by outlining the benefits in a business case.

5. Plan for incremental change

When you’re dealing with large legacy systems, change will take time. See what your supplier can do on an incremental basis and create a plan. Remember to include any commitment and plans for accessible content in your accessibility statement. This will help users of assistive technologies to know what information is accessible and when they may need to contact you for further assistance.

For any help with procurement and accessibility assessments of third party content and advertisers contact Media Access Australia Digital Accessibility Services.