Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Explained

this is Sid Haas without kcs I'm the vice president of business development I want to welcome you to today's webinar focusing on web accessibility and the web content accessibility guidelines for those of you not familiar with our company we focus on working with financial institutions we currently work with banks and credit unions in 48 states and have been working with financial institutions since the early 1960s you can see on this one slide this kind of a range of our services but our focus is really I'm utilizing data across all channels to improve our clients marketing efforts and that's everything from traditional you know printing in direct mail services to statements any statements and obviously into websites and all sorts of electronic marketing services but today we'll be focusing obvious and web accessibility and to discuss web accessibility just to just to define it obviously what web accessibility is all about ensuring that people with disabilities can use the web the web and obviously your websites in particular we think about that what that means is all users must be able to perceive understand navigate interact with and contribute to the web and when you you know the attorneys get together and discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act they've determined that websites must provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities and that all makes perfect sense and sounds easy until we realize how people with disabilities use the web and there's all sorts of different disabilities that we have to make websites you can be aware of so people that can't use a you know a traditional keyboard or a non traditional mouse excuse me we have to make sure that you know we can access and navigate a website with a keyboard and you know for those of us that use a mouse every day that's not that easy when we talk about video for example which is so popular on the web today we need to make sure that we have captions for people that might not be able to hear or understand the audio for people that may not be blind or may have some visual difficulties we need to make sure that there's large links and buttons and controls and give them that ability to change text size and different things like that and what about people that you know need to access through voice recognition you know our websites so there's different concerns when it comes to web development that we have to be aware of and accessibility isn't about all you know people that with severe disabilities we also have to realize that not all users are equally tech savvy or financial literate so a lot of these accessibility requirements that we're going to be talking about today actually do really improve the overall usability of our websites as well so some of the requirements are that we have to provide clear notifications and feedback so when we have forms on our website which a lot of us do and we all want to have that interactivity and give you know our account holders that ability to take action on our website we need to make sure that we have clear error messages not I don't know if this one's very clear to read but you know it's error and a whole bunch of strings of letters and numbers invalid data you know we need to provide clearly hey you know you need to put in an email address you know in this proper forum where this field is required you know please fill it in we need to have colors with good contrast obviously need to have a clear layout design which should be the goal of any website and then we need to avoid jargon and acronyms and you know the financial world is full of those so many industries but you know we need to make sure that we're you know writing the content of our websites with all of that in mind so a lot of these accessibility requirements are really better for everybody you know not just the truly disabled but the reason that a lot of us you know a lot of you around the call and on the webinar today is that you know the threat of lawsuits in today's environment financial institutions are the most recent targets right we know that these threats begin with a demand letter you know claiming to have identified access barriers on a website and the goal of these letters in this particular law firm in general is to seek a settlement agreement you know which includes an award obviously of attorneys fees and costs to the so called plaintiff and and a web accessibility compliance plan so they still want you to fix your website you know they found something wrong with your website they want you to fix a website they want you to pay the plaintiff you know for finding these issues they obviously want you to award attorneys fees for them bringing this to your attention so the goal is to obviously kind of make sure your websites are in compliance with the web accessibility requirements hopefully before you receive one of these threat letters so to reduce your litigation risk you know we've talked to lots of attorneys and lots lots of legal experts which I'm not in this area but you need to be proactive we'll discuss this a little bit but you need to take action to address web accessibility issue you know web accessibility issues now and preferably not to wait until you receive a demand letter because at that point it's really too late you know we've worked with with several clients that once they receive that demand letter they take the steps to you know modify their websites but they're still paying you know settlements you know unfortunately even after they've made their sites fully compliant because obviously you know this web firm is this law firm doesn't always have the best intentions at heart let's just leave it at that you should implement an ad a website accessibility policy and you should do that even before your website is fully ABA compliant or meets the ABA requirements and what that does that affirms your commitment to compliance it lets site visitors know of your efforts even if you're still evaluating what these efforts are so even if you haven't started fixing the website putting a policy out there lets them know you know that these are your plans or this is what you're looking at or you're at least aware you know the website accessibility it provides for ongoing monitoring and auditing and a very important piece of this is it gives visitors to your website a way to report accessibility issues so you need a public policy post it on your website and I'd be happy to send you a sample of one of those if you don't have one or haven't seen what I'm talking about just shoot me an email and I'd be happy to send you sample language that you know you can have your compliance people review and edit at your free will but that's something I'd be happy to send out and I'll have my contact information if you don't have it up at the end of the of the presentation today so I've used the word compliance and compliant it's really important to understand that the Americans with Disability Act does not directly address website accessibility and it does not include any technical standard for determining compliance so there really is no such thing as a DEA compliance even though it's all over you know the web spam the web in general every publication we seem to pick up mentions ABA compliance but there really is no such thing yet as ABA compliance when it comes to websites the Department of Justice has held the forward justice is responsible for for enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act and they have shown that the ADA age requirements are not limited to physical places so they would also apply to web sites and this has held up in some courts and some federal courts but not you know there have not been suits brought in all federal courts and all's you know in all districts so we don't know if all the courts would agree and the Department of Justice has not yet issued a technical standard for web accessibility and they're not expected to do that before before next year before 2018 but there are practical standards for web accessibility and there are some in particular one in particular that we'll be talking about in great detail that do exist and those are the ones that were expecting the Department of Justice to adopt so we're expecting that sometime next year you know the Department of Justice will say that web sites you know to be you know it's a meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act will need to meet these accessibility standards they have not done that yet but there are these web content accessibility guidelines called WCAG guidelines that have risen to the top that seem to be the leading contender for what the Department of Justice will adopt there's no guarantee that this is what they're going to adopt but all the pundits and all the experts in accessibility seem to indicate this is this is likely going to be the standard they adopt the WCAG guidelines web content accessibility guidelines are currently at level two and there are three levels of guidelines there's level a a level Double A and a level Triple A level a is a very basic set of accessibility guidelines level double-a adds you know some additional guidelines to that and a level triple a add some significant guidelines and that level Triple A is really meant for sites that are exclusively meant to serve the disabled community so our recommendation and most people's recommendations is that these level double-a standards the WCAG level double-a standards should be your objective so when you discuss making your website accessible you should be looking towards meeting the requirements of the WCAG level double-a guidelines there's four areas of those guidelines the first area is that your website needs to be perceivable the content of your website so I'll give you some examples of what that means one of the most important requirements is that you will need to provide text alternatives for non-text content so think images logos photographs you know non-text content so when we talk about images we're talking about adding what's known as alt tags or descriptions so somebody who can't see the image can at least read or have read to them via these screen reading technologies you know a description of what that image is we need to bribe captions and other alternatives for multimedia y'know video is extremely popular these days but poses a lot of challenges for anybody with disabilities so we need to have video transcripts and third party services such as YouTube and Vimeo can actually add transcripts automatically for you they may not be perfect but it's that's a free option and there are third-party services that for a fee can add captions to your videos as well wanting to be create content that can be presented in different ways including by assistive technologies without losing meaning basically there's a lot of different technologies that will read the contents of a website to somebody that can't see or can't see well so there's a lot of different screen readers they're called and we need to make sure that websites are coded properly with HTML tags to identify the reading sequence and the hierarchy of content if you think about it when we're looking at a website you know obviously we'll start at the top and look down but you know our I we know where navigations menus are and you know we know by looking at the size of content color of content what's bold and things like that as to what's a heading and what's body text and all of those things well for to a computer reading a website that's all done with what's known as HTML tags so web developers need to code sites properly so web sites can be read properly we need to make it easier for users to see and hear content so again we need to make sure that we're using appropriate colors and contrast ratios we still see a lot of websites that you know maybe there are some links that we don't want to call too much attention to by considered some privacy policy links and some you know things like that we need to have them on our website we don't want to call a lots of attention to them so we put them in a color that may not be completely obvious but that doesn't eat accessibility guidelines so we need to be careful of the colors and the contrast ratios that we're using we need to make sure that text links make sense when they're read out of context so the second set of can second area of these WCAG guidelines is a wrote estate must be operable to people with disabilities so again we need to make sure that all function is of functionality is available from a keyboard accessing a kibo accessing a website and especially navigation menus from a keyboard it's not that easy at least to me I'm much obviously you know more accustomed to using a mouse but again it's about these appropriate use of HTML tags and setting the correct tab order so when you hit the tab button on your keyboard you literally go from item to item on your website so that people can navigate that site with a keyboard we give users enough time to read and use content you know a lot of our websites have banner ads that rotate content that may move in and out or refresh I'm wanting to actually minimize timing of content and give users control of that timing we need to give them that ability maybe to pause those rotations or you know slow down those rotations things like that depending on how much time they need to read and understand that content to make sure that content don't cause seizures so you know scrolling text and blinking text and you know things that really move fast across our pages is no longer acceptable you know it did it's it's not that popular anymore it kind of used to be you know I can be give a lot of websites that you know had a lot of flashing things going on a few years ago but that really needs to go away now as a result of some of these WCAG guidelines and we need to make sure that we help users navigate and find content so things like sitemaps need to be accessible from every page of your website there's actually you know part of part of the code that we had under the perceivable section is for a screen reader to actually be able to skip the navigation menu but then we still need a way for people to navigate the website from a screen reader and that's where these site maps come into play site maps are also much easier for people maybe using keyboards to navigate your website sometimes than the navigation menus so it's one of the important guidelines that's come out third area is that we need to make sure that our website is understandable so again we need to make text readable understandable we want to minimize jargon and acronyms we want to have an adjustable text size give people that ability to enlarge the text size or even reduce the text size we need to make content appear and operate in predictable ways we want to have consistent navigation between pages and between sections of our website we don't want to make people kind of have to relearn how to use our website in different areas and again that kind of goes towards just good web design in general we want to help users avoid incorrect mistakes you know again this really comes into play with with forms and applications on our web pages but we want to label form fields when I have user friendly error messages one have nice friendly confirmations when forms are submitted you know all those types of things you know really help any user whether they have disabilities or not you don't know that they're using the website know that we've gotten their information know that somebody's going to get back to them all those types of things we need to make sure that our websites are robust so we need to maximize compatibility with current and future tools obviously technology changes every day right we all know that these assistive technologies fuel with disabilities continue to change you know one of our programmers here happens to be deaf and has a cochlear implant device and he goes down to you know to get literally software upgrades on his hearing device on a bill I believe it's a quarterly basis and every quarter you can actually hear a little bit better well the same type of thing is happening with these screen reader technologies and you know different assistive technologies for people with disabilities on these websites and the only way that we can make sure that our websites keep up is to make sure that they're coded properly you know with standard HTML and they're really up to speed you know on the programming side so they're compatible with those future tools that are coming out though we don't even know anything about so how do we make sure that our websites can get there and what do we need to do to get our websites to meet these guidelines how do we evaluate where our site is and what we need the even sticks so it comes down to the fact that you needed tools to scan your website most of these web content accessibility guidelines you can't just eyeball a website and say yep that one's you know that one meets all the guidelines and that one doesn't you really have to be able to look at the backend coding and all sorts of things and that takes a tremendous amount of time but there's a lot of really good tools out there to scan a webpage and tell you right off the bat you know whether or not all the items meets these accessibility guidelines and maybe what needs to be looked at but it's not quite that easy either because many of these guidelines need to be very verified manually and what I mean by that is we can use a computer to scan you know scan a webpage scan a website and it can tell us you know when it finds a picture or a logo right on an image it can tell us if they're one of those alt tag descriptions is in place so you can say yep there's a text description for that image but a computer can't tell us if that text description actually adequately describes these image so it's still going to know make a human look at that description and say yes that is a logo you know for XYZ credit union so that description XYZ credit union is appropriate for that image or that's a picture of a car so you know that's the appropriate description for that image so what you'll see and I'll show you some examples is you know coming up but a lot of these things still need to be verified by a human some of these tools to scan your website are free so here are some suggestions to websites that you can go to you can plug in the web address you know of a webpage and it'll come back and give you you know the results it'll show you what on these pages you know may need to be verified or what needs to be fixed to bring them into into alignment with the web content accessibility guidelines so those are some good resources for you to use some of the tools are not free a lot of these are subscription-based and they provide additional benefits over the free tools so some of the benefits that they provide just so you're aware is that they offer full site scanning so these tools in particular on the Left they'll scan one page at a time which is great if you're going to fix that page but they won't scan the entire site where these are these subscription-based tools you can put in the web address of the home page and they'll go through and scan the entire site the subscription-based tools will also provide a report so they'll show you everything in the entire site that needs to be corrected they can also do some automated scanning and even email alerts so you can set them up to scan the website on a weekly basis or a monthly basis and then send you an email so after you initially potentially correct the web accessibility issues you can then set it up so that maybe every week or every month that goes through scans the website and if it finds anything that needs to be adjusted after that it sends you an email but you also need to beware that some of these you know can this can get a bit expensive so you know some are affordable some aren't there's a ton of them out there there's more and more really you know it's kind of like social media tools there's more coming out every day because it's it's such a large you know a large market right now there's just so many people that are that are interested and needing you know web accessibility services so this is an example of a tool that we use at ELQ ACS just so you're aware one of these tools looks like and what we do is we go through and we scan a website so in this case you know this scan found thirteen thousand five hundred and twenty four accessibility issues that shouldn't scare you that's actually a really low number you know we've seen sites with five six hundred thousand items found these thirteen thousand issues were found across 59 web pages what you have to understand is again these aren't all items that need to be addressed in this case we've broken this out between level a guidelines remember these are kind of the more basic set of accessibility guidelines and the level double-a guidelines which are a little bit more stringent and what we found in this scan example is we're 526 errors errors or things that we feel absolutely need to be corrected you know you know the scanning engine tells us that that you know these items need to be corrected warnings are items that most likely need to be corrected and items that need review those are the items that again need to be verified by a human so those would be things like you know the image alt tags that we discussed a few minutes ago that you have to look at and say yeah while there's an alt tag present you know you just have to confirm that that description accurately describes that image so we had a question came come in regarding whether this webinar is being recorded and yes it is I'm so you'll be receiving an email this afternoon with a link to our YouTube channel and you'll be able to to view the recording and the the attachment in the GoToWebinar toolbar actually has a copy of the presentation and a link to that is also included in the email you'll receive this afternoon so those needs were two items those of the again the items that just need to be verified by humans so a lot of those may not actually need any work done it's just that they need to be verified so a lot of times these can go through we can go through these in our web developer can go through those usually pretty quickly as we dig in further you know again this is our tool but a lot of these tools are very very similar this is an example to show you all of the accessibility issues found and how many pages potentially they're found on so this is actually the language of the guideline some of this makes sense some of it doesn't and I'll explain you know how we understand what these things are in a minute but this is looking particularly at the level double-a guidelines I will show you that you know when we're looking at sufficient contrast between text and background colors that you know it's flagged one page you know sites must have a sitemap it's flagged 56 pages so this is kind of indicating to me maybe that this website doesn't have a sitemap on any of the pages so we just got to go through and maybe it does you know again this is one of those items that need human verification so this is one of those things where there's probably 56 errors you know or items tied to this if I fix it once I've literally fixed it 56 times so that's how you can get these numbers to drop you know fairly quickly but we just have to verify and so yeah it really does have a sitemap the computer just couldn't tell so this is an example again of you know some of how how these things get summarized as we continue to go through you know one of these scanning systems we can get more more and more details so this now we're looking at a specific page and we're trying to find out exactly where on a page in item is so when a web developers looking at this it'll actually show them exactly where in their code the problem is so on line 665 of this web pages code you know it'll tell you them that you know this is the problem and the problem is that alt text for all I am G or image the empty string if the image is decorative quote now that may not mean anything to me you know and probably doesn't right I'm not a web developer so most of these tools at least these paid tools and even those free ones that I gave you typically will have a link like this ours says open accessibility Help Center now will provide a great bit of detail into these errors so to give you an example this actually explains you know help is available for each and every one of these guidelines so what you'll see again is the language for the specific guideline this is a different one than the one before but it'll provide a description in English so in this case the anchor element must contain text you know the text may occur in the anchor text or in the title attribute it tells us how to fix it and it tells us how to check for it and a procedure again of how to verify that and it even shows us the expected result and the failed result and what will show us even code examples of what passes and fails each of the guidelines each and every one of these so your web designer whether they're in-house or you know a third party that you use whoever is responsible for maintaining your website can use one of these tools to identify the issues on your website and then actually use the tool to explain what the issue is and how to fix it personally I think the paid tools do a better job of it but again you know you do have your choice between some of the free options out there and some of these paid ones but the important thing to know is they all have resources or at least a better ones the good ones have resources to give you the information and to lead your web designer right to the information about what these guidelines mean and claiming with you know not not in government lawyers speak but in plain English and give them examples and instructions that they can understand as a web designer on how to fix them in each and every one of these items to actually fix these things I mean if your web designer if they haven't already been doing a lot of this web accessibility work they're going to have to do some research because quite frankly it takes much longer to understand many of their requirements than it does to actually fix them most of the items in the day and the web content accessibility guidelines are small and relatively easy to fix but there are tons of them and again that example scan that I showed you a few minutes ago there were a thirteen thousand or something items listed and I told you that some other you know real scans that we run for clients you know it's not unusual to have a few hundred thousand items so those are things that all have to be corrected or at least verified so you can imagine this you know that there's there's times right involved even in the verification and then obviously in the fixing there are some larger issues you know that can take some significant time to fix but most of the items are really little and a lot of the times like you know like I showed you with the site map for example if you fix it once you fix it across every webpage so those numbers can drop fairly quickly but it still takes time and you know should you even fix your site right and that's really that's it's not as easy to answer that question as you may think there's a lot of info there's a lot of things you need to consider before you go ahead and just start fixing the accessibility issues on your site just so you know from our experience you know the typical financial institution website takes at least 30 to 50 hours to fix ok you know and that's just on average so money talks you know is your site do for redesign if it's older outdated you may be you know it may be worth taking the cost of 3250 web development hours and putting it towards that redesign you know is your current site responsive meaning is it mobile friendly yeah if it's not it might be time to redesign it and you know it reinvest that money that it was going to take you to fix it make it web accessible making a web accessible but also make it responsive you know with a new design and are you able to manage and update your site as easily as you need I mean these are all things for you to consider because obviously Web Design has changed a lot in the past few years and you know any any web designer that knows now that works with with banks and credit you know about what accessibility now and any new website they're designing should be accessible right out of the box and should also be responsive right out of the box and obviously you know it should be able to you know should be easily for you to manage an update so all of these things are things you might want to consider as you consider spending the money to actually have your signal have your site tracked and obviously do you have the expertise in-house or do you need to hire it out we'll talk about that here for a few minutes as well to maintain web accessibility going forward though is really important because web accessibility is not just a one and done kind of project many of your websites probably are built with content management systems and you know you guys are used to updating and editing content of your websites you know every day on the fly and web sites are often updated by people who are currently not aware of any accessibility requirements so you know you can go ahead and go through all the pains of making your site fully accessible and then you know somebody else can start uploading photos and videos and all sorts of other things to your website that they're not adding alt tags and they're not adding captions in there you know that they're just adding content that doesn't meet the accessibility guidelines and now all of a sudden your site doesn't meet those requirements again so you need a way to you know continuously monitor that website and audit it on a regular basis so again this is where some of those subscription-based tools those paid tools make sense because you can have you know either either have the tool automatically you know scan that site for accessibility issues or have you know have a third-party firm you know be responsible for giving you a report you know or somebody internal run or report something like that for you on a monthly or quarterly or you're going to semi-annual basis so you know if there's anything that needs to be updated and you know the fact of the matter is that we fully expect these web content accessibility guideline standards to change you know we talked about it earlier the Department of Justice has a never you know hasn't adopted a set of standards while they're currently at version 2.0 they may very well be at version 3.0 by the time the DOJ adopts them and when they change you know any of these tools that were using you know to audit websites are obviously going to be updated as well but you're going to need to be aware of you know anything that may now need to be updated because those WCAG guidelines change and obviously we don't know when those guidelines may change but just the fact that they're in version two means they used to be a version one so there used to be a version one there's probably going to eventually be a version three so when you talk about web accessibility you know whether you do it in house or you outsource it you really have kind of three options right and you know you can you can subscribe to accessibility reporting only you know or find out find a source for reports only not really my recommendation to be quite frankly but when we talk about reporting only I'm you know reports will measure how well your site meets the WCAG accessibility guidelines reports will show you how many pages have potential accessibility issues and what those issues are but in my experience reports by themselves do not provide all the information that you or your web developer would actually need to fix the accessibility issues they're solely designed to give you a baseline of where your site stands in relation to the guidelines so remember kind of when I showed you how you know you can get an explanation of what each guideline means and see instructions on how to actually fix you know each item code examples of what meets or fails you don't get that with a report so you know you can certainly get reports and get reports only and you know that meets your requirement I guess for you know having some oversight you know and seeing where the site is but it doesn't really help you address any accessibility issues a better option I think is free to subscribe again to an online tool or a dashboard that provides web access to a web governance solution whether it's ours or somebody else's govenor web governance or web accessibility you know kind of the same thing these online tools will identify again exactly which pages are affected what elements on the pages are problematic they'll allow you to review the specific guideline for each item explain those guidelines and show you hopefully the better ones example of code that actually meets the guidelines and code that doesn't these systems are designed for web developers to go through and make changes the site as they review the requirements so they're perfect if you have in-house expertise or if you have third-party designers that need additional support you know to correct the accessibility issues so you know if you have somebody in-house that maintains your websites for you that has a little bit HTML knowledge you know or if you've got you know that trusted web development firm that you really like working with but they don't know too much about web accessibility you know they can go out and they don't already have have you know a tour a dashboard you can go out and subscribe to one give them access to it and they'll have the information they need to to correct the website obviously we can provide our dashboard to you and to your third-party designers if you need it and your third option is to outsource to work so with a full-service type approach you know you can select a vendor that does all of this work for you they would scan your website they would make any changes needed to meet the web content guidelines you know accessibility guidelines they would hopefully provide a report of what accessibility before and after changes were made so they could show you you know before the website you had 13,000 and some odd issues and after we were done you had zero and they should be able to continue to monitor and correct the site on an ongoing basis so those are goes kind of using your three options you know on how you how you can approach this problem and obviously you know we feel if that vendor should be us so here's my sales pitch but LKC us has that ability to identify resolve and monitor your site for compliance you know we offer all those three levels of service so we can provide just the reports we can provide that online access to you so you know show you how to use our dashboard and access our dashboard or we can correct everything for you and each level of service is available from us on a one-time basis so if you just want to fix the issues on your site and leave it at that that's cool but if you also want to you know come back on a biannual basis or a quarterly basis or a monthly basis and have us provide an updated report or give you online access you know for for the next year or provide full service you know where we come back you know every quarter or every month you know whatever frequency you want us to come back and make any changes that are needed those are all things that we can work with you you know get your pricing to all of that so that's all I have and I am definitely available to answer any questions so feel free to type them into your into your GoToWebinar toolbar and obviously feel free to contact me offline as well I might be happy to to get you any any information I can about web accessibility in general and certainly about any of our web services so thank you very very much for your time today I hope I provided some awesome information that was helpful

8 thoughts on “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Explained

  1. Hey everyone! Super easy tool if you just want to plug your URL in and have your entire site scanned: www.accessiblemetrics.com

  2. Thank you for putting this together. Any inputs on mobile apps ? What things can be implemented to make sure that my apps are complaint with WCAG 2.0 Conformance Level AA ???

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