Five Ways To Make Your Website Accessible Immediately
Many websites are large and complicated, and can take weeks to remediate. However, users with disabilities do not have access to the content while the sites are being remediated. Especially if you are being sued, it’s a good idea to put in a stop-gap measure to allow users to access the content right here, right now. This can be a good, cheap way to show the courts and plaintiffs that you are serious about upping your game with regards to accessibility, and can engender a sense of loyalty in your company and/or brand for users with disabilities. Below is a list of five good strategies for allowing users with disabilities to access the content on your website. Keep in mind, these are not replacements for remediating your website; they are simply an extra step that your company can take to make the content accessible right now.
- The telephone: If it is a site where you have to do something (for example: ordering, event registration, etc.) which is normally not available over the phone, set up a special hotline that users with disabilities can call to accomplish a task. Ensure that the number is listed prominently on the website, and the number is always staffed. If you have an existing call center that is being used for other calls, then it’s even easier: Simply allow them to place orders or accomplish the tasks on the website for users with disabilities.
- E-mail: Although the telephone is great, it does exclude one large class of users: users that are deaf as well as having other disabilities. In this case, it is important that the staff who work the phones to also have e-mail addresses that they can check and respond to inquiries. This would function very similarly to the call center.
- If it is a block of static information that would need to be used by many users (for example, a restaurant menu, small catalog, or map), it may be faster to have someone read the menu into an mp3 file rather than typing it out. This could be posted on the website as a link above the menu. Ensure that all the information conveyed in the menu is conveyed in the audio recording.
- If design and accessibility are in disagreement, and it will take many hours of web development to achieve the correct result, it may be easier to hack together a fast page that could be linked to from the main page, which gives an accessible version of the content while the design is being remediated for accessibility (for example, a page made up only of static text). Many times, this content conversion can be used on the real remediated website, in the form of image descriptions and other alternative content.
- If the users are localized in one organization or small area, it may be faster to deliver the content in braille or other accessible media in a physical form while the website is being remediated.
Keep in mind, these are definitely not replacements for remediating your website. While your website is not remediated, you are still out of compliance with the law or another mandate that is causing you to make your website accessible. These are strictly stop-gap measures that will allow users with disabilities to access the content and functionality of your website right away, while you address the much larger task of making your site accessible.