Make A Statement!

An accessibility statement is a public communication that reflects your organization’s policies, standards, methods, and goals related to the accessibility of your web content, web and mobile applications, and information communication technologies.

An accessibility statement is important and beneficial in several ways:

  • For your visitors with disabilities, this statement shows your intent and commitment.
  • It reveals your company's pledge to accessibility and social responsibility, and compliance with anti-discrimination laws and regulations.
  • It demonstrates what accessibility standards are being used to measure success.
  • It provides contact information for anyone needing assistance.
  • A well-written, no-nonsense statement can increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.

We already have a policy, so why do we need a statement?

The easiest way to address that question is to define “policy” and “statement.” Dictionary.com defines a policy as “a definite course of action adopted for the sake of expediency, facility, etc.” In other words, a policy is an internal document that outlines your company’s goals and the procedures by which you will achieve them.

A statement is defined as “a communication or declaration in speech or writing, setting forth facts, particulars, etc.” Statements are public documents outlining your goals and your intent to achieve them.

In short, your accessibility statement is a public declaration of your organization’s intent and commitment to accessibility.

What does a well-written accessibility statement look like?

The two most important components of a well-written, no-nonsense, thoughtful statement are a declaration of your goals for achieving and maintaining accessibility and a dedicated, multi-channel (phone number, accessible chat service, a contact form, and email) communication pathway for users who may encounter a difficulty or anyone needing additional support.

The following should also be part of your statement:

  • State the guidelines you are currently compliant with and guidelines you are striving to meet.
    • NOTE: Yes, even if your web content is not fully compliant, you still need an accessibility statement. Not having a statement sends a message to your users that you’re not informed on the subject and/or just don’t care. A simple sentence like “Our work and commitment in creating and maintaining an accessible web presence is ongoing. If you discover a webpage, web application, or other digital resources that are not accessible, please contact us.”
  • List any third-party tools, like DubBot, and/or testing methods you incorporate into the design/development process.
  • Outline any known accessibility issues or barriers, along with measures being taken to remediate those issues and contact for support, alternative formats, or accommodations.
  • Reference any applicable international and/or federal laws and regulations and applicable state or local laws and regulations that are part of your commitment to compliance.
  • Reference any accessibility policies within your organization to show management buy-in and support.

Depending on your audience, you may want to delve into structural components like HTML, Javascript, and CSS to define your website’s accessibility features.

And finally, and this goes without saying, publish your statement in HTML to ensure it is accessible to the largest audience possible.

Accessibility statements — a branding opportunity?

Yes! Absolutely! Your accessibility statement is a great opportunity to tell the story of how accessibility is baked into your organization’s strategic management for meeting goals and objectives. It’s a chance to highlight specific policies and procedures your organization has to ensure your web content and other digital resources are designed with accessibility in mind.

Best placement for your statement

Make your accessibility statement easy to find. Think in terms of breadth, not depth, of coverage. Place links in areas like the footer, help menus, and sitemaps. Also, include a link in your “About Us” and “Contact Us’ sections. Use the same link name throughout the entire website as well as your web and mobile applications.

Sample statements

Here are a few examples I hope will help you create (or update) your accessibility statement. I’ve also included a link to the W3C’s Accessibility Statement Generator.

Resources

Maggie Vaughan, CPACC
~ friend of DubBot, A11Y practitioner in higher ed