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Accessibility Statement

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While looking at accessibility policies developed by other organizations, you come across several websites that include an “accessibility statement.” You decide such a statement would be a good addition to your company website. You spend some time reviewing statements others have posted to their sites, then you gather a list of elements to include in the statement you will create for your company. An accessibility statement can be used on a website and in various documentation, to let visitors and stakeholders know about the company’s commitment to accessibility. Though an accessibility statement will help inform others of an organization’s efforts and commitment, it is not a requirement for compliance. Outlined below are several elements you may consider including in an accessibility statement. Once a statement has been prepared, it should be linked prominently on a website, preferably near the top of the site, where it will be easier to find for those who are navigating with assistive technology. A standard statement of commitment for both the website and the policy document, can be created to guide an organization’s accessibility efforts. The following is an example of what a statement of commitment might look like: "At XYZ Company, we are committed to ensuring our goods and services are accessible to everyone and to removing barriers that may prevent some people from accessing these goods and services." If your website has been reviewed, either by an external or internal auditor, you might choose to include a statement that describes the level of compliance the website meets. A statement of compliance must include the date the site was judged to be compliant. Because websites tend to change over time, compliance can only be claimed for the date on which an audit was completed. A copy of an audit report might also be linked from the statement, but is not required. A second element that must be included in the compliance statement is the specification or standard the site is claiming compliance with. In most cases, this will be WCAG 2.0. The final required element is the level of compliance, either Level A, Level AA, or Level AAA (if WCAG is the specification being used). A simple statement of compliance might look like the following: "On January 20, 2017, this website conformed with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 at Level AA." A compliance statement may also include additional information about the scope of the claim. For example, the claim may only refer to a particular area of a website, in which case that portion should be described in the claim, such as “the publicly accessible areas of the site.” Or, a statement may only apply to parts of the website the organization has control over, and not apply to third-party web applications or services that may be used. A statement then, might include omissions, such as “not including the shopping cart application.” It is not uncommon for an accessibility statement to acknowledge potential barriers that an organization may be aware of, that are perhaps a work in progress, or may refer to third-party tools or technology that may not be available in an accessible form. Though this statement should not be an excuse for using less-than-accessible tools or applications on a website, it can help alleviate complaints when an organization demonstrates their awareness and their plans to remedy barriers over time, or to make public their use of technology that may not have an available accessible alternative. One such example may be videoconferencing systems. Though these are often required tools for communication, there is no current videoconferencing system that would comply with accessibility requirements. An example of a known-issues statement might look like the following: "We are aware of a number of potential barriers in the Shopping Cart application, that may prevent some users from purchasing products from our website. We are working with the vendor to address these issues, and we are looking at potential alternatives that may be implemented in the future. If you are experiencing difficulties using the shopping cart to make purchases, please contact our online support team at (111) 555-2134, who will be able to assist you with your purchase." You may also include general contact information in the statement, to allow site visitors to report any accessibility problems they may encounter. Another element that might be included in an accessibility statement, is a description of the accessibility features that have been implemented on a website. This can be helpful for users who need accessibility features, so they do not need to discover these features on their own, reducing the effort in learning how to use website features when using assistive technology. Some of these features may include: • Keystrokes for direct keyboard access to features • Use of captions and/or transcripts with multimedia • Use of WAI-ARIA to create interactive elements • Use of navigation elements such as landmarks, bypass links, and headings • Instructions for using complex features, like a photo gallery or shopping cart application • Descriptions of a site layout. Examples of accessibility statements

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