Core Accessibility Concerns for Web Design Agencies
With ADA lawsuits on pace to exceed 2,000 this year, there is no doubt that many clients shopping around for a design firm will be asking, “What do you do about accessibility?”
Even if they have yet to face litigation themselves (sometimes multiple times) they know someone who has and realize that they are playing a risky and expensive game by not taking proactive action.
Looking at their web development team as a trusted advisor, there are strategies to help relieve concern and create a more accessible web without overstraining the budget. As an agency, there are several steps you can make to help them get to where they need to go.
- Be wary of indemnity or compliance certifications Customers who ask for this are either uninformed about the challenges of accessibility or quite shrewd. In either case, it becomes a dangerous proposition for you to put a site in the wild where anything can happen outside of your control (new marketing content without alt-text is just the beginning) and have the customer be able to point back to their web developer when legal issues arise.
- Utilize Automated testing Conservatively, automated testing will only be testing around 25%- 30% of WCAG Success Criteria. This is fine as long as all parties understand what this means in context. You should leverage automated testing, using a tool like Tenon, to identify straightforward issues, fix them and move on to manual testing. The ancillary benefit is that many of the legal offices these complaints originate use similar tools so if they are coming up clean on your tests, chances are they will on the lawyers’ scans as well.
- CMS Know your CMS of choice and focus there. Having accessible templates and themes pre-built along with the knowledge of what to look for and how to fix it will save time and budget for other UX projects. Tenon has a Wordpress plugin that will help identify issues pre-production and ultimately help avoid having to go back and fix things retroactively.
- Know your limitations Accessibility is a specialty. There is overlap with UX but an intimate knowledge of WCAG Standards and how they impact web properties is required to create truly universal web experiences. Know when to call in specialists and take the opportunity to skill-up internal teams for future projects.
If there is a current client who is requesting an accessible site, feel free to request a strategy call or sign up for a free trial to Tenon to begin reviewing client sites.