Website Accessibility: Whose Job Is It?

Man and woman coworkers working on website accessibility projects.

Who is responsible for website accessibility in your organization?  The IT department might bear the brunt of the responsibility when it comes to your website’s navigation and web page coding. However, each person who creates other digital resources on your website, like videos, audio files, and PDFs, should make them accessible. 

 

Your organization probably has many different people who contribute varying content to its website. Each contributor should make their own content accessible and make sure it stays accessible when updates take place. This not only makes accessibility easier, it also helps to build a culture of accessibility within the organization. Organizations may mistakenly assume that only their IT department has the knowledge and expertise necessary to make content accessible. But with company-wide training and easy-to-use tools, all content creators can participate in website accessibility.

Executive buy-in

Before each department or website contributor can be held accountable for making their part of the website accessible, management must be on board. Managers need to understand the importance of website accessibility so they can allocate time and resources within their departments for accessibility. An executive mandate can help prioritize and facilitate a culture of accessibility organization-wide. When executive management shows that they value and prioritize accessibility, they set the standards for website accessibility throughout the entire organization.

Web page accessibility

Delegating website accessibility starts with assigning someone to make the web pages themselves accessible. If you outsource your web design project, ask your web designer how they plan to make your website accessible. That will include prioritizing things like keyboard navigability, proper color contrast, and properly labeling all other elements for assistive technology.  Coding your website for accessibility from the very beginning makes the project cheaper and easier than retroactively fixing issues down the road. Upon completion, have your website evaluated by an experienced accessibility consultant before it launches and fix any issues. 

 

If your in-house team designs or updates your website, make sure you’ve got staff members with accessibility knowledge and experience and can code it accordingly. If not, enlist an outside consultant to review your website for accessibility and suggest any changes. 

Video and audio accessibility

When creating accessible video and audio materials, make sure to include captions and transcripts. People with hearing impairments require captions and transcripts, but they also benefit anyone who prefers reading content over listening to it, anyone who is in an environment where listening isn’t ideal (like a loud bus or in an office), and for SEO purposes. Like assistive technology, search engines rely on digital coding and index text files like transcripts even when they can’t parse videos or audio files. 

 

The best person to create captions and transcript files is the person who created the video. In the absence of a written script for the content, they can pull the transcript and caption files auto-generated by YouTube or another hosting site.  Then the video producer can easily edit the auto-generated captions for accuracy.  

 

Often, marketing departments create video or audio files to advertise or demonstrate products and services. HR departments may produce training videos teaching safety protocols or explaining company policies. Sales might record a video call with a client and save it for the client’s future use. All departments should be trained on and held accountable for adding captions and transcripts for the audio and video content they produce. 

Image accessibility

Images on your website and any digital documents need to include alt text describing what they portray and why they are relevant to the surrounding content. Whoever wrote the surrounding content should also compose the alt text for the image or graphic.  Alternatively, have the graphic’s creator or another subject matter expert provide alt text for the image. 

 

For example, your graphic design team, whether in-house or outsourced, should provide alt text for any graphics they create so that any future user of that image has that information readily available. Also, your finance team may have organized earnings data into a complex chart for easy reference. That chart must include alt text that describes what information it depicts or refer to paragraphs in the surrounding text that explain the data. Alt text might read, “Line graph of preceding data”, or something similar. One of the best ways to provide alt text for numerical graphs and charts is to include the data table in the text.  Then the image alt text can refer to that data set, making a full description is unnecessary. 

 

PDF accessibility

PDFs are often inaccessible without specific coding for accessibility by adding digital tags to the content. Tags identify the elements on the page to assistive technology (AT) users, such as text, tables, lists, graphics, and more. 

 

Because PDF tagging often involves dealing with a complicated tag structure, some companies require the IT department to tackle this project. However, using an easier PDF remediation tool can allow any content creator to make their own PDFs accessible. Allowing content creators to easily make their own documents accessible means fewer people have to interact with the document, saving time and effort. 

 

Equidox PDF remediation software uses AI-powered Smart Detection Tools which can automatically detect many PDF elements. This gives the user a starting point for remediation. Users can then draw “zones” around any unidentified elements and label them as tables, lists, text, etc. Equidox then automatically applies digital tags on export. Users don’t need to manually interact with the complicated tag structure of the document, so they don’t need prior accessibility experience.

Anyone in any department can easily be trained to make PDFs accessible. For example, the finance department might produce a monthly earnings report, while HR has a training document, and marketing has produced an eBook for lead generation. With easy-to-use software, each of these items can be remediated by its creator, even though none of these creators has significant accessibility knowledge.

Everyone is responsible for website accessibility

When everyone is trained on their contributions to website accessibility, no one department is overburdened with the job of making content compliant. Executive buy-in helps companies prioritize accessibility training and allocate resources for accessibility in each department. Choosing the easiest and most efficient tools for the job makes it possible for all content creators to participate in accessibility, even without prior accessibility experience. Distributing accountability for website accessibility across the company fosters a culture of accessibility while helping prevent digital accessibility lawsuits.

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Nina Overdorff

Nina comes to Onix with years of sales and marketing experience from a variety of industries, and holds a BS in Language Arts Education. Nina has a passion for words, storytelling, and information, which she believes everyone should have access to regardless of ability. After spending time as a teacher with a blind student, she became much more aware of the limitations and abilities of web accessibility, and how essential it is to those experiencing disabilities. “Being able to access information equally ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity for education, employment, and success in life.”