Accessibility: Like security, it’s something we all own.

We all care about security - for legal and because it's all our responsibility. Accessibility is also a responsibility and carries as many benefits to website management if taken on as a business critical function.

Mentor working with young person with a disabilityWe’ve posted a few times about how accessibility for websites is changing with the new WCAG 2.1 standards. Overall, there are 17 new standards to comply with, as well as ensuring that website CMS (and forms) templates continue to comply with the standards.

These standards are specifically important to Public Sector, Higher Education and not for profit organisations in Europe, US and Australia as there are laws that govern web accessibility - as well as this being the right thing to do.

However, the truth is - we are never done with accessibility compliance and C-Level leaders and business managers often need to help and support understand this.  In this lies a challenge! How do we get ‘budget’ for accessibility compliance?

Well, we need to look at accessibility compliance differently inside a business.  For example, is security seen as a single investment or as a continuous investment? Both accessibility compliance and security compliance have a lot in common:

  • Carry legal obligation
  • Require continuous investment in compliance knowledge
  • Often require technical investments
  • Need to be reviewed regularly

Many of our users and clients have asked about how we support changes to these standards on their behalf. Understandably, there is an expectation that we will take care of ‘everything’.  However, it’s important to draw a distinction between how we support accessibility on JADU software and how clients and agency services (including Spacecraft) manage changes in accessibility compliance.

Essentially, JADU supports the underlying software to make sure we output accessible content. Website owners (our users) own the templates on the front end (the website templates) as well as ensuring that content authors comply to standards.  For example, by avoiding the use of things like ‘click here’.

What we do:

  • JADU maintains the CMS and Forms software to ensure it continues to output accessible content. We’ve recently integrated with third-party testing tools, like Sitemorse and developed an entirely new template technology called Photon, which significantly increases maintainability and compliance to standards by passing control to clients and their developer teams.
  • Spacecraft (or your third-party agency) builds and tests using the latest available standards. Once launched, at which point clients own their templates, Spacecraft supports clients by offering training and skills in accessibility. Spacecraft also provides accessibility audits, as do many great accessibility specialists.
  • Spacecraft offers a Platinum Support package for teams that run the Jadu Platform but perhaps don’t have or have limited internal developers. This package includes a number of pre-allocated days that can be used for accessible template maintenance.

What can you do?

  • Get your current site (regardless of underlying technology) audited
  • Regularly use tools to check compliance
  • Instil a culture of continuous testing and improvement
  • Ensure content is accessible

One major issue we see websites failing on is content. The Jadu CMS has baked in features to aid and guide website owners but, as with any software system, we cannot control what the content author uploads. So, just like how you wouldn’t have your security managed by someone without relevant knowledge, you must not have your front end content managed by a staff member without accessibility knowledge.

In summary:

As part of our long term investment as a business, we make sure our teams at Jadu and in Spacecraft have access to training and skills, as well as technology. We’ve recently re-committed to this by making it one of five business priorities.

Much like security compliance, we all have a responsibility to ensure we keep our websites complying with accessibility standards. It’s a continuous, and more importantly, a virtuous process that has business benefits for all users.

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