When businesses feature accessibility statements on a website, it demonstrates the organization's commitment to creating an inclusive digital environment for all visitors. Because of this, accessibility statements are a must-have.
In this post, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about accessibility statements. You'll discover how to write one, see some outstanding examples, and even learn some of our favorite tips for writing your own.
What are accessibility statements?
An accessibility statement is a paragraph or so of text that provides information regarding the level of accessibility your website is targeting. Most importantly, it outlines your site's methods to achieve it successfully.
Your accessibility statement is also your opportunity to be transparent and take ownership of any facets of your site that aren't currently meeting accessibility goals. You must also illustrate the steps your company is taking to rectify this. The more actionable the plan is, the better.
Additionally, accessibility statements make a powerful display of your organization's commitment to inclusivity. By incorporating accessibility best practices into your site, you can ensure that it won't isolate any of your site visitors. Instead, it will invite all users to learn more about your brand.
Why are accessibility statements important?
Accessibility statements are important because they provide valuable insight into what your organization is doing to make its website more accessible. Whether or not a visitor has a disability, they'll likely appreciate how your company is dedicated to creating a digital space where everyone can find the information they're looking for.
Moreover, it's the right thing to do. Website accessibility isn't a trend — it's a must-have. The Worldwide Web Consortium effectively communicates website accessibility standards, so ensure your website adheres to these.
And if your site is meeting accessibility standards — which it should be — why not ensure your visitors are informed about it? It's the right thing to do; it makes your site visitors feel included and shows your brand's commitment to inclusivity.
However, your accessibility statement must be honest. False claims in your accessibility statement will tarnish your reputation and confuse visitors.
How to Write an Accessibility Statement
Ready to learn how to write an accessibility statement? The good news is that it's straightforward, and there are plenty of solid accessibility statements you can look at for inspiration — more on that later.
Here's how to write an accessibility statement in four simple steps.
Identify and state your commitment to making your site accessible.
First, outline your organization's commitment to creating a website. Why is creating an accessible website so important to you? Here's your opportunity to explain to your site visitors.
For instance, this portion of your accessibility statement may read something like this:
"[YOUR ORGANIZATION NAME HERE] is dedicated to ensuring our website is accessible to as many visitors as possible regardless of their ability or technology. We have an active commitment to increasing our site's website accessibility."
Mention which guidelines your site complies with.
Now it's time to mention which guidelines and standards your site conforms to. Because The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and World Wide Web Consortium provide guidelines developers use to create accessible sites, you should mention which guidelines developers built your site to adhere to. (Side note: These guidelines evolve, so update your website to reflect that.)
It may read:
"Our site currently complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0, Level AA criteria."
You can also add specific information regarding which features your site offers to meet guidelines.
Ensure you check which guidelines your site complies with so you accurately present this information. Also, update it regularly as you refresh your website and add new accessibility features.
Identify areas where your organization's website doesn't meet the target.
If your website isn't accessible in some way, you should disclose this honestly. Furthermore, be transparent about the steps your brand is taking to rectify this.
This could look like this:
"Despite our efforts to adhere to W3C standards for site accessibility, we regret to inform you that we cannot currently offer [INSERT WHAT ACCESSIBILITY FEATURE YOUR SITE IS MISSING HERE]."
Then, identify what your organization plans to do to rectify this issue. Be specific.
Here's what this portion of the statement could read like:
"However, we are currently working with website accessibility experts to rectify this issue by implementing [FEATURE] and expect to have this complete by [DATE]."
Provide contact details.
Last, add contact information so visitors can reach out with questions, comments, complaints, or suggestions. Make sure to provide several options for reaching out.
"We welcome suggestions and ideas to make our site more accessible for all users. Or, if you are having difficulty accessing our site, please reach out."
[INSERT PHONE NUMBER]
[INSERT EMAIL ADDRESS]
[INSERT MAILING ADDRESS]
Example Accessibility Statements
Let's look at some accessibility statements that do an excellent job of communicating essential information. Here are two examples that effectively communicate the importance of accessibility and how the site achieves that.
The White House
The White House does an excellent job with its accessibility statement. It's displayed on the footer so visitors can easily find it.
The information also checks every box — it identifies the importance of accessibility to the organization, mentions the guidelines that are met, and identifies how. Then, the White House invites visitors to share their thoughts or reach out for assistance and offers several ways to do so.
United States Department of Agriculture
Like the White House, the US Department of Agriculture seamlessly presents its accessibility statement. It breaks down its commitment to inclusive digital content, identifies the guidelines it adheres to, and, once again, provides ways for visitors to connect with the organization regarding accessibility concerns and suggestions.
Other Tips for Accessibility Statement Best Practices
Now that you have a rough outline for creating accessibility statements let's review some best practices to help you start writing your own.
Be sure a legal professional takes a look at your statement.
No, your accessibility statement doesn't necessarily have to read like a legal document — but you should ask a professional to take a look before you post it to your site. An experienced law professional can point out anything that might need to be adjusted before it's suitable to go live.
Even if your visitors aren't familiar with these standards, by providing a specific name (i.e., Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1), they can do additional research if they desire. No, it's not enough to say, "Our site conforms to best web accessibility best practices" — get specific!
Make your accessibility statement findable.
If your site visitors can't find your accessibility statement, it's not helpful. Therefore, you should ensure that it is displayed. As a result, anyone who navigates to your website can learn more about your company's commitment to inclusivity for people of all abilities. Consider including yours in several places, such as the footer and your primary menu.
Use an accessibility statement to provide insights into your accessibility efforts.
Now that you know what it takes to create a successful accessibility statement, you can use these insights to create your own. Remember: Be transparent with your audience about why accessibility is vital to your organization and your efforts to be as inclusive as possible on your website. If you do that, your accessibility statement will stand out.