What is the web accessibility lens, and how do you know what to look at when you cast your eye over it? Media Access Australia's Deputy CEO, Natalie Collins, sheds some light on the questions you need to ask.
You will find here in the Access iQ archives an excellent article, Web accessibility is a mindset not a checklist. Sure, there is a bit of irony here. We do have a bunch of checklists to assist self-starters and help identify key primary issues but the primary concept remains wholly accurate. It isn't just about reaching a base level of compliance. Web accessibility needs to remain in the consciousness of every business analyst, project manager, design, developer, content producer, digital producer and tester, and I call it applying the 'accessibility lens'.
How to apply your web accessibility lens
The quickest and easiest way to apply your accessibility lens is to ask questions whenever there is a request of you to add, remove or augment a digital asset. For example, in a recent web meeting our team discussed adding a live chat feature and social sharing icons to another website. The first question I asked was, “Can they be made accessible?”
We walk the talk and aim to make everything we do accessible so for us it’s not unusual for that to be the first question. So what can you do to ensure there is an accessibility lens applied to your work?
Top quick tips
- Add web accessibility criteria to your business requirements documents, to ensure it remains on your team's radar.
- Ensure web accessibility testing is conducted for new features and accessibility is included in the definition of 'Done' for web development work.
- Create a web or digital accessibility repository on your intranet. This can become the 'go to resource' shared with everyone in your organisation.
- Set up an accessibility committee or become the accessibility champion in your organisation.
Whilst quick wins are beneficial for increasing awareness there are some more systemic activities that will ensure web accessibility and universal design principles are embedded in your organisation.
- Complete a Digital Accessibility Maturity Assessment [link is external] to identify the areas of your organisation that have good web accessibility knowledge and processes and identify areas that need help.
- Develop organisational awareness of the issue and practical solutions through required online induction training.
- Build digital accessibility knowledge into key management, design, web development and content production roles and ensure position descriptions explicitly reference applicable standards and required knowledge.
- Create or use your website accessibility statement to reinforce your organisations' commitment to providing products and services optimised for people with disabilities.