Those who crafted the “Manila ICT Design Recommendations” for which our Web Design Accessibility Recommendation is based, made Accessibility Statement as their utmost priority. In fact, this recommendation is number one among the list. So probably they considered this very important. I definitely agree with them. Here’s why.
What is an Accessibility Statement?
Sometimes called an “Access Instruction Page”, an accessibility statement is a page where you put a guide or explanation on how to navigate your site. It is also another way of saying to the cyberworld, that “Hey! You can access my site with little or no barrier at all.”. It also provides website visitors with information on how to utilize any accessibility features implemented, together with known barriers and how to overcome them. This information is usually presented on a dedicated page within the website.
Why do we need it?
In putting an Accessibility Statement, you are:
- – Instructing your online visitors how they can freely navigate in your site. The page explains what a blind person expects when he enters your site, sort of like a visual description on what your site looks like.
- – Cautioning your visitors on what not to expect on your site. The page enumerates some barriers that you might not have resolved while at the same time provide information on how you can bypass those issues.
- – Declaring your commitment to Accessibility. Here you can acknowledge your stand on unhampered access to information and how you may have complied with local as well as international standards. In other words, you are telling the world that it’s the right thing to do.
Ms. Leona Tomlinson, a Senior Accessibility and Usability Consultant published an article at Digital Web regarding the usefulness of putting Accessibility Statements on your web site.
She mentioned that W3C’s WCAG and Section 508 didn’t include accessibility statement on their recommendation. Only UK’s PAS78 did. So I proudly posted a comment-message in her article informing her that the Philippines is the second country in the world that included Accessibility Statement as the top recommendation. Her article fairly justifies the importance and made a convincing argument on putting accurate Accessibility Statement on your web site. One of which is in order for blind users to “view” the look and feel of your site.
What are the contents of an Accessibility Statement?
In this page, you might include the following:
- Basic layout of your site – It identifies where the main content, navigation links, banner logo, bottom links and “skip to” tool bars are located. That way, sightless persons will know what to expect and where it will lead them.
- Accessibility Features – It enumerates the basic functions within your site that is useful for persons with disabilities. You might explain to them that your site can be viewed in any screen resolution or text size. You may also point out to them that pressing the enter key on the “Skip to Content” will go directly to the main content part. Other instructions on how to navigate your site can also be listed here including those that may aid screen reader users.
- Accesskeys – These are key combinations used as shortcuts to go directly to a link within your site. Accesskeys are useful to people who have trouble controlling the mouse and clicking on links. They are also an important tool for sightless people. Experienced users of Windows-based desktop application softwares like MS Word are familiar with keyboard shortcuts such as saving files (Ctrl + S), opening new files (Ctrl + O), copying (Ctrl + C) or pasting texts (Ctrl + V). Accesskeys are simply additional commands used to navigate faster.
- Conformance – It lists down local as well as international compliance and validation links with which the site was able to comply. It also enumerates links to various sites that may be used as references on how to experience full access to your site.
Do you have a recommended sample of Accessibility Statements?
PWAG has compiled a list of popular Philippine websites which provide simple yet comprehensive accessibility statements. Feel free to use these sites as patterns in creating your own.
- Official Website of Dela Salle University – This is one souped up site where you can see the complete instructions on how to navigate the page. It also includes explanations on how to set your browsers to enable them to make use of accessibility settings. Web accessibility was again incorporated in their recently updated website. PWAG’s Lemuel Cabia is the Senior Web Developer of DLSU Website.
- Official Website of the Department of Justice – This site offers a simple yet complete details on the website’s accessibility compliance.
- Official Website of Commission on Elections – The page basically follows the same pattern as the DOJ and DLSU websites.
- Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf College of Technology – MCCID website follows the basic access instruction page including the general design layout of the website.
- Official Website of National Council on Disability Affairs – This one also conforms with the basic style set by PWAG.
You might also like to use the accessibility instruction format of PWAG. It only lists down three access instructions; Access Keys, General Design Layout and Other Instructions.
You may also compare Accessibility Statements from other countries such as:
So guys I encourage you to add accessibility statements on your website. It is really very useful. 🙂
- PWAG WDAR – http://www.pwag.org/designrecommendations.htm#MS1-1
- Writing a Good Accessibility Statement – http://juicystudio.com/article/writing-a-good-accessibility-statement.php
- Writing an Accessibility Statement – http://www.nomensa.com/blog/2009/writing-an-accessibility-statement/
- Boilerplate Accessibility Template – http://www.tjkdesign.com/articles/standard_accessibility_statement.asp