Why Website Accessibility Requires Ongoing Support and Maintenance
November 8, 2021
Accessibility guidelines are evolving, and your website needs to adapt to stay compliant. The next release of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is slated to become official next year. But don’t wait to start migrating to the new standards, because there are 10 new rules that your website has to meet.
What is website accessibility?
If you’re not up to speed on website accessibility, the term can be defined as a measurement that shows how easily your website can be used by people with disabilities. This includes any permanent or temporary impairment that makes life more difficult such as blindness or low vision (like color-blindness), deafness or hearing loss, limited movement or dexterity (like a broken hand or arm), and learning or cognitive impairment. Check out this video for some real-world examples:
I thought my website was already accessible. Do I need updates?
Maintaining accessibility is crucial. With every uploaded file, published blog post, or change in standards, website maintenance is needed in order to keep the website accessible. At KMA, we offer ADA Maintenance Plans for a structured approach to keeping your website accessible. These plans dedicate a monthly maintenance budget to only accessibility improvements.
Changes in Accessibility Standards
To maintain accessibility, we follow W3C’s WCAG 2.1 Guidelines that were published in June 2018. WCAG 2.2 was on schedule to be published earlier this year but was delayed. So, while the new standards are currently in draft, we highly recommend that you start working towards this new version because it includes 10 new success criteria, and is on schedule to be published next year. These new features include:
- Accessible Authentication ( level AA )
- Accessible Authentication (No Exception) ( level AAA )
- Dragging Movements ( level AA )
- Consistent Help ( level A )
- Page Break Navigation ( level A )
- Focus Appearance (Minimum) ( level AA )
- Focus Appearance (Enhanced) ( level AAA )
- Visible Controls ( level AA )
- Target Size (Minimum) ( level AA )
- Redundant Entry ( level A )
Changes in Website Content
All of the websites we build for our clients include a Content Management System. In most cases, WordPress is used to allow clients to add their own content to pages. While this is a great feature for clients and keeping websites up-to-date, it can become a liability for sites that are required to maintain a certain level of accessibility. However, client-controlled website updates can be monitored and patched fairly quickly under a dedicated ADA Maintenance Plan.
Uploaded PDF Documents
PDF stands for “portable document format,” and is a type of file that can be opened in any internet browser being used today. So, accessibility standards that apply to website pages, also apply to PDF documents. PDF files were created by Adobe in the early 1990s to help incompatible computers view a document the way it was intended to look. Many changes have been made by software publishers so PDFs can be more naturally accessible, but simply saving an MS Word file as a PDF still does not make it meet all specifications required by the WCAG. In most cases, we make changes to the PDFs clients upload and replace the file on the website where needed. Clients that publish PDFs frequently, may take advantage of an Accessibility Training Session where we set up a live video training explaining how to use Adobe Acrobat to address accessibility issues prior to uploading them to their website.
Have more questions about website accessibility?
At KMA, we’ve helped many clients ranging from real estate agencies to Clerks of Court, non-profits, healthcare providers, and more make their websites more accessible through design expertise and monthly maintenance plans. If you are unsure where your website stands, we have a team of professionals who would be happy to provide you with a comprehensive review, request an ADA Compliance Review of your website. Or, if you know you need immediate help, request a Website Accessibility Compliance Estimate.