4 steps to accessible websites

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4 steps to accessible websites

What: “Digital Accessibility Checklist,” from Vision Internet, a government website developer.

Why: Although many local government websites have been recently redesigned to provide interactive services and be more user friendly, 60 million Americans with disabilities still have trouble seeing the computer screen or using a keyboard or mouse to access everyday online services. Additionally, a recent survey of local government leaders found that 89 percent had moderate, weak or no knowledge of federal web accessibility requirements.

Findings: Local governments can bring their websites into compliance with federal mandates for accessibility and meet the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) by following this steps:

  1. Develop accessibility readiness: This includes hiring an accessibility coordinator who understands the federal mandates, adopting and sharing an accessibility policy, conducting web accessibility awareness training and teaching web content producers to create accessible information.
  1. Build accessible content: Websites should use responsive design, and images should include alternative text for screen readers. Sites should use simple text and headings to ease navigation and readability, employ color combinations that the color blind can see and provide captions and transcripts for audio and visual content.
  1. Give users control over accessibility: All information that can be accessed with a mouse should also be available via a keyboard, audio and video files should not auto-play and visitors should be able to customize their experience (such as increase text size). Use logic-based problems or simple human user confirmations as alternatives to CAPTCHA.
  1. Commit to accessibility: Websites should incorporate automated accessibility checkers to routinely identify barriers and include statements that acknowledge the municipality’s commitment to accessibility.

Takeaway: Municipalities have a legal responsibility to make their websites accessible.  Compliance with the WCAG 2.0 standards will help make local government web content perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

Read the Digital Accessibility Checklist here.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a Reporter/Producer for GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media, Ziadeh was a contributing journalist for USA Today Travel's Experience Food and Wine site. She's also held a communications assistant position with the University of Maryland Office of the Comptroller, and has reported for the American Journalism Review, Capitol File Magazine and DC Magazine.

Ziadeh is a graduate of the University of Maryland where her emphasis was multimedia journalism and French studies.

Click here for previous articles by Ms. Ziadeh or connect with her on Twitter: @aziadeh610.


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