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This is a archived version of the DMAG website, but the information remains for reference. Please visit the new website for updated information.
Writing an accessibility statement
By Lorna Gibson, published 9th August 2004.
An accessibility statement makes a good addition to all web sites. It is a place to demonstrate that you are taking accessibility seriously and also provides extra information for visitors to your site - particularly disabled people who need to know about the accessibility of the information and services you provide.
In your accessibility statement you should ensure that at least the following information is provided:
- Details of all positive accessibility features on the site. For example, if you have made the effort to provide skip to main content links (see implementing skip navigation), make sure you let people know about your efforts.
- Details of any significant barriers that are present on the site. You may not have been able to address all barriers, so tell people where they are to avoid frustration, and provide information on how to reach alternatives to the inaccessible content.
- Provide contact information for people experiencing difficulties. Make sure there is more than one method of contact and that the person who is contacted has knowledge about people with disabilities and the types of problems they may experience using web sites.
If you have decided to use accesskeys (view the pros and cons of access keys), then provide a section in your accessibility statement on accesskeys, including details of how to use them and what they are.
A technical statement like "This web site is XHTML 1.0 Compliant" or "WCAG-AAA" icon may mean absolutely nothing to a disabled visitor who is not a web developer themselves. But for quality assurance or other reasons, a section on standards compliance or guideline conformance may often be included in an accessibility statement. This is a place where you can show that your pages reach a particular conformance level of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or any other relevant guidelines or standards - for example government guidelines, or whether you have used valid HTML.
Avoid technically meaningless statements like "Bobby Compliant" or "SENDA Compliant" (since no such compliancy levels exist). And also be aware that it's all too easy to inadvertently add new content with accessibility problems that suddenly makes a conformance claim false, so any claim for conformance should reflect this, and given that conformance to a specific guideline is sometimes open to interpretation, make it clear that is it your opinion and not a clear statement of fact.
As with any web content the information provided must be written clearly and avoid spelling or grammatical errors - or accessibility errors! Where possible do not provide your accessibility statement in a new browser window, but if you feel this is necessary you must clearly warn the user that it is going to happen.
If you have a large web site, made up of very distinct sub-sections under the control of different web development teams or content providers, then it may be necessary to have mini section-specific accessibility statements, each linked to the main accessibility statement.
Once you have written your accessibility statement make sure that it is linked from every page. After all, you have made the effort to produce an accessibility statement describing your site, it is worthwhile ensuring everyone can find it!
Your accessibility statement will be organic - you may only start with a few lines but as your site develops in terms of accessibility, and your understanding of the accessibility of the site develops, so will your accessibility statement. As it can often be created and then forgotten about, it is worthwhile scheduling time every so often to check through your accessibility statement to ensure that it is up-to-date and reflects the work done to enhance the site's accessibility.