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    What is an accessibility statement and why have one?

    by UsableNet
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    What is an accessibility statement? An accessibility statement on your website tells your community of users about your commitment to web accessibility. Within that special message, you assure your customers that you are putting in the effort to serve them. 

    Why have an accessibility statement? The accessibility statement is a key document for your digital accessibility initiative. It should not sound like a legal declaration. When writing an accessibility statement, it is best to set a tone that matches your brand voice and community.  

    Read on for what you must do when creating and posting your accessibility statement, as well as some items you can consider adding to the accessibility statement before posting it on your website.

    [Video on what an accessibility statement is and where it can be found]

    4 absolutely musts for creating and posting an Accessibility Statement 

    1. Your Accessibility Statement communicates your efforts  

    An accessibility statement is not to say your website is perfect. And, while an accessibility statement may discourage lawsuits, this is not its main purpose. Above everything else, an accessibility statement shows your customers that you care about accessibility. It reinforces your commitment to accessibility, to them, and to social responsibility

    2. Your accessibility statement lets users know how to contact you. 

    A phone number and/or email address listed is enough, provided there is someone at the other end trained to help. You can also use a contact form. Warning: If you are linking to a contact form, ensure the contact form is accessible!

    3. Your customers should easily find your accessibility statement. 

    We tell clients that the accessibility statement is often best placed in the footer of the website. The accessibility statement can sit alongside your terms and conditions, privacy policy, cybersecurity, and other legal links typically found in a website footer.  

    4. A legal professional should review your accessibility statement.

    This is not a one-size-fits-all statement. You may use a template to get you started. But, you should always have a legal professional review your accessibility statement before you post it on your website.

    3 elements to consider adding to your accessibility statement

    1. Summarize your broad efforts toward web accessibility  

    You don’t necessarily need to go into technical detail. Phrases such as,testing to the prevailing Web Accessibility Content guidelines by the W3c". There is no need to state a version as that will change. You also shouldn’t write WCAG - spell it out. You can continue with, "we are including people from a wide range of user groups including those that have disabilities and require the use of assistive technology”.  

    2. List the date you posted your accessibility statement

     Some companies will add a date to their accessibility statement and reevaluate every year or so. While this may be reassuring to the public, it's not essential. Accessibility work is an ongoing process, not a one-time project with a date of completion. Your commitment to digital accessibility should also be ongoing. 

     3. Include a disclaimer that addresses your 3rd party plug-ins or social sites   

    Your statement can include clarification that content accessible from your site via external links to hosted content or social media sites, such as Facebook, are the responsibility of those sites. However, best practices are followed in your efforts when creating and posting content.

    an essential piece of your digital accessibility program 

    The accessibility statement is an important document for your externally facing customers, as well as your internally facing employees.   

    To learn what more you should do to achieve and maintain accessibility for your digital properties, download our digital accessibility checklist. Inside you'll find the steps you must consider and complete when creating a digital accessibility initiative for your organization.

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