As WeCo’s Accessibility Team begins to work with clients who are new to accessible communications, we begin to realize that many organizations are seeking a “checklist fix” to accessibility instead of solutions that encompass overall website functionality.
“While checklists, such as the Section 508 Voluntary Product Accessibility Standards (VPAT) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) serve as a great learning and a much-needed accountability tool for accessibility, developing in an exclusively ‘list-driven’ environment can create problems for the end users–especially those who live with disabilities,” shared Lynn Wehrman, WeCo Accessibility Team Director and company President.
Online accessibility concerns can seem daunting when you begin the journey of addressing them. “It’s very easy and extremely common for organizations to see VPAT’s and WCAG Guidelines as the definitive—and only—solution to their accessibility concerns and needs,” Wehrman added.
But at WeCo, we encourage organizations to consider aspects of accessibility which can make a website or venue easy to use—aspects which cannot always be measured by an HTML code assessment checklist. These may include things such as readability, or the way information is organized, written and visually presented, which does not overwhelm the user. Information identification methods, which do not involve code analysis, can also make accessibility easier for screen reader users, greatly improving ease-of-use for individuals with sight-related disabilities.
“Checklists play an extremely important role in accountability and have been the primary influence behind accessibility awareness,” commented Wehrman, “However, for those of us who encounter almost daily the limitations of ‘checklist exclusive’ development outcomes for people who live with disabilities, there is a ‘people-driven’ factor to consider as well.”