My name is Kris Rivenburgh. I’m an attorney and the author of The ADA Book. I’m also the founder of Accessible.org.
So that I can efficiently provide a transcript and closed captions, I will read from the transcript itself.
There is no one right way to write an accessibility statement. However, there are three essential components that every statement must have along with two others I highly recommended.
And then there are numerous other sections you may want to include at your discretion, of course.
When you’re customizing your accessibility statement, what’s important to keep in mind is what the purpose of an accessibility statement is.
The purpose is essentially to act as a hub for anybody that needs information about the accessibility of your digital experience.
This leads into the core components of your accessibility statement. Let’s go through them.
First, your organization’s commitment to accessibility should be clearly stated. A commitment may only be one strong sentence or it might be several paragraphs.
But what’s important is that your organization is committed to accessibility and you are publishing notice of that commitment.
Providing a means of support specific to accessibility is paramount.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is the regulatory and enforcement agency for Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The DOJ has instituted several private enforcement actions concerning digital accessibility and in all of the resulting settlements, the DOJ has mandated publishing conspicuous notice (i.e., a statement) and multiple means of obtaining support or assistance.
Providing multiple means of support (e.g., phone number, contact form, and/or email) may not be necessary. However, it is definitely best practice to have at least one working means of support where a user can get a helpful reply within a reasonable amount of time.
Similarly, there should be at least one way users can provide feedback to improve your experience.
Encouraging feedback reinforces your commitment to accessibility and can be genuinely helpful to your organization in ensuring a robust user experience.
Again, feedback has been a staple DOJ mandate in settlements regarding digital accessibility.
Another section that can be very helpful to users is one that discusses, in plain English, any accessibility issues or technological limitations they should be aware of.
Here are two examples:
“Our website performs optimally on Chrome, FireFox, DuckDuckGo, and Safari browsers. However, the navigation menu may be inconsistent on Internet Explorer.”
“Our trading platform displays constantly updating charts along with thousands of live updates to prices. Although there is no effective, alternative way to convey all of these updates, the latest price is always readily accessible at the top of the page.”
Now, as a word of caution, this section, in particular, can have legal implications so be sure to consult with your counsel on how to disclose these issues or in just the creation of your accessibility statement.
The practical use section can be extremely beneficial to users and save time and prevent frustration.
Demonstration of Commitment
It’s one thing to state commitment, but it’s another to be far enough along where you can show and demonstrate that commitment.
If you have invested in accessibility, an accessibility statement is the perfect place to showcase the lengths you have gone to improve access.
You can highlight any number of things:
- Hiring an accessibility consultant
- Having an independent, manual audit performed
- Remediation of your website
- Reaching full WCAG conformance
- Training all support and digital content personnel
This is a very positive section that is meant to shine light on strong steps that you have taken.
Whether you have allocated time and energy to accessibility and/or hired an independent provider to provide services, it’s great that you have taken action and backed up your commitment.
Of course, you are not limited to the sections above. When you customize your statement, you can go into as much or as little detail as makes sense for your organization.
For organizations who are just starting out, a more basic statement makes more sense.
For organizations who are further along and/or larger organizations, a more thorough statement will usually result.
What’s most important is that your accessibility statement is accurate and reflect your organization’s values and efforts.
If you would like help with your accessibility statement, you can download my accessibility statement template for free from Accessible.org. You can also contact me about accessibility services through Accessible.org.
Furthermore, I highly recommend you read The ADA Book. The ADA Book is quick and to the point and helps everyone understand the legal landscape and the different elements in play when making a website or other digital asset accessible.