Your website is the digital version of your brochure and business card all rolled into one. It’s how people recognize you on the internet. What do you want people to say about you?
Here’s what you don’t want people saying: that your site is a poor user experience that disregards people with disabilities by not offering an accessible view which can imply that your brand lacks the desire to be digitally inclusive. To that end, you need to make your website fully accessible.
How can you do that? Website accessibility is in the hands of two parties: you and your website designer/developer. Accessibility starts at the very beginning of the website design process. By asking the right questions of your designer, you can make sure that accessibility is built into every facet of your site. We've identified 13 questions you should ask prospective website designers before you decide to work with them:
- Is your own website accessible and usable for people with disabilities? If your website designer’s website isn’t accessible, there’s a good chance website accessibility is not a major priority for the firm.
- What type of training has your team been through? Designing accessible websites isn’t a skill with which people are born. A website developer needs to undergo specialized training to learn how to make a website accessible. Determine what kind of training your developer has received, and evaluate whether it’s adequate.
- How do you design for digital inclusion and accessibility? What kinds of methods and approaches does the firm take to ensure that your website is accessible and usable to all users? A firm with experience designing accessible websites should have answers to this question right off the bat.
- Do you have IAAP-certified project managers or developers? The IAAP is an organization dedicated to making the world a more accessible place. The nonprofit organization certifies project managers who ensure accessibility is at the heart of each initiative.
- How do you test for accessibility during development? During the development stage, you need to test that your code is accessible. There are a number of testing tools available, so your website designer should be able to describe the firm’s testing methodology.
- Can you do screen reader verification? Manual verification is an important part of ensuring accessibility. Having resources that can verify your site can be used by people who require the use of voice over or a screen reader is important.
- Do you test all functionality available from a keyboard? Many people who have disabilities use keyboards to communicate. Some people don’t have the dexterity to use a mouse, so if your website’s functionality isn’t available through a keyboard, you have a problem.
- Do you have experience making audio and video content accessible? Audio descriptions enable people with visual impairments to consume content even if they can’t read the text.
- How do you involve the disability community with testing and feedback? People with disabilities are the greatest experts on website accessibility. A website developer that engages and works with people who have disabilities shows a deep commitment to making websites accessible as well as understanding the needs of those with disabilities.
- Do you work with any third-party accessibility experts or technology? Accessibility experts can provide valuable input on how to make a site more accessible, and there’s technology on the market that helps you to design accessible websites. What resources is your developer using to design accessible websites?
- What type of reporting is provided to demonstrate accessibility? Once the site is done, you need some kind of proof that it’s actually accessible. Your website developer should have a reporting process in place to demonstrate that accessibility has been achieved.
- How is accessibility maintained as the site changes? Accessibility isn’t a one-and-done process. Every time the website changes, that change must also be accessible. Your designer needs to have a strategy in place to maintain accessibility.
- What accessible sites have you designed and built? A website is an investment. You want to know that you’re investing your money, time, and effort in a company that can deliver an accessible website, and the firm’s past work should reflect that.
A website developer that is familiar with web accessibility guidelines will be able to transform your new site into something that everyone can use. Want to know how accessible your current website is? Use our AQA Test tool to find out.