Short Term Website Accessibility Improvements

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This guidance helps you to address some of the most severe accessibility barriers on an existing or in-development website. It typically leads to temporary solutions with significant limitations. It may also not be suitable in siutations with complete lack of accessibility.

A companion guide, Planning and Managing Web Accessibility, provides guidance on integrating accessibility throughout the design and development process for more effective and efficient accessibility improvements.

Understand the Basics

A first step in addressing web accessibility is understanding the basics.

Explore the Issues

Get a rough idea of the type and amount of barriers on your website.

Define your Scope

Depending on your situation, you may not be able to address all the issues on every part of your website at once. You may need to prioritize specific parts to improve right away, and address the remaining parts in later stages. Consider prioritizing:

Define your Target

The generally accepted target for accessibility is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. This may already be the standard specified in your organizational policy or it may be a legal requirement for your website.

In some situations, you may need to define a multi-tiered target with different dates for different levels. For example, meet particular WCAG 2.0 success criteria in the next release, and meet Level AA success criteria in the following release.

Sometimes also Level AAA success criteria may be achievable with minimal efforts. For example, selecting appropriate link (2.4.9) and heading (2.4.10) text may be easy to do while content is being re-written to address other issues.

Get Help

You may need help from people with more expertise in web accessibility from outside your team. These could be individuals working in other parts of your organization or consultants external to the organization. You might not need help with every task. The more background you have in accessibility and the skills available in your team and organization, the better you will be able to leverage them.

Also consider involving people with disabilities as a source of expertise. Seeing how people with disabilities use the web, even if briefly, can lead to much better understanding of the issues and solutions, and save you valuable implementation time. Some disability organization offer such services.

Evaluate your Content

Evaluate the content defined in scope, to the defined accessibility targets. Thoroughly evaluate shared elements such as templates, style sheets, and any consistent items that are repeated, such as navigation bars and footers.

Thorough evaluation requires accessibility expertise, especially for websites with more complex functionality, such as dynamic content. The Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM) provides a structured approach to help evaluate websites for accessibility.

Web accessibility evaluation tools could be helpful for evaluation. However, they can also be confusing without sufficient background in the accessibility requirements. Some tools provide guidance within the web content, which may be more helpful for learning about the issues, while others generate reports, which may be more helpful for developers.

Prioritize the Repairs

If you are not able to fix all issues right away, consider prioritizing why you repair by:

Implement the Repairs

Once issues are prioritized, you will be better able to plan how long it will take to fix them based on the estimated effort. This gives a clear indication of what is achievable given the project resources available.

Some useful resources include:

Longer Term: Planning and Managing

This guidance covered the most basic essential to help you get starting with web accessibility improvements. A broader and more comprehensive plan is required to integrate accessibility throughout the design and development process. The companion guide helps you develop such a plan: