- Where do I start if we have a big, existing website?
If you're like many organizations, your website has grown over the years, often to many thousands of pages and documents. Auditing and remediating all that is what the lawyers may call "undue burden". That is no reason to remain inaccessible, and we have a way to go. The W3C folks who brought us the WCAG 2.0 standard to which we can audit a single web page has also brought us the WCAG-EM methodology to determine which pages to make accessible on a large existing website, what we call the "substantial" part of your website. If you have received a judicial complaint from DoJ or the Office of Civil Rights, you may well find them agreeing to a Resolution Agreement to both WCAG-EM and WCAG 2.0.
If you are considering posting a fixed-price RFP to audit your website, we recommend breaking it into two RFPs, one that determines what is to be audited (WCAG-EM) and another to do the auditing (WCAG 2.0). Otherwise, you will get an inflated proposal to cover the uncertainty of the entire scope of work.
- My website is being redesigned. Should I wait until the dust settles before addressing accessibility?
Our stock answer is, "Would you finish building your house before talking to your city's building inspector?" So it is that we work with web designers to do their magic with accessibility in mind. We're happy to audit a template, design mockup, or even a conceptual statement where our input can save man-days of wasted rework. And whose website is ever finished? Accessibility is like that, a process not a destination.
- What qualifies Access2online to evaluate my website
The federal government has fielded an Interagency Trusted Tester Program to provide a clear, objective answer to that question. Our Trusted Testers have completed this intensive, six-month program and passed the tests to become certified. In addition, our Coordinator has hands-on experience building hundreds of websites since 1996, and he has completed the WebAIM accessibility course. He personally instructed all the Access2online workers, and he stays on-site at Access2online reviewing every single work product before turning it over to our customers. We don't do general web design, nor do we address other accessibility issues besides website accessibility. We are focused on our specialty, and we do it well.
- What are the typical Access2online deliverable when auditing my website?
We deliver two main types of audit reports. A spreadsheet with a worksheet for each page audited that lists on its rows each failure condition tested, between 60 and 81 depending on the standard used. Each such row refers to the exact section violated, examples from the page audited, and remediation recommendations. The spreadsheet comes with controls, for example, to show only the violations up to level AA Rating of the WCAG 2.0 standard. We won't share a client's violation spreadsheet, but here's a fictitious sample.
The second part of our report is a Summary of the Webmaster's Accessibility Remediation's (SWAR), collecting all the remediation suggestions from the worksheets into a narrative to-do list in MS Word format matched to the workflow of a web designer in maintenance mode, for example, the first section lists remediation's common to all pages where the fix may be a simple setting in the templates of a CMS. Folks in a hurry often just do the remediations in the SWAR, whereas those in training mode use the spreadsheet to understand practical accessibility. Here's a fictitious sample of a SWAR since we won't share a client's one of those either.
An optional third part of our deliverable is a Targeted Accessibility Instruction Sheet (TAIS) whereby we prepare a short training curriculum for each website section, often a single page, presenting the minimum instructions needed to produce such content to be accessible. Such instruction sheets are to be matched to each staff member's website responsibility (job function), such as the website's contact page in this sample.
- Do you use automation software to audit websites?
We do use software but not the kind that automatically produces a final audit report. This is not to belittle such automated auditing tools, but organizations such as the W3C and OAST have good reason to insist that trained humans are the way to go. We believe software tools should empower humans who do the accessibility analysis and recommendations. We use a collection of 17 different software tools to help our analysts audit websites, to make them efficient and thorough but not mindless.
- What is the first thing I should do to make my website accessible?
If you don't have a link to your website's accessibility statement, produce one. If you have one of the common accessibility statements that begin by listing the many accessibility standards you support and concludes with how to file accessibility claims with various government agencies, change it. Put yourself in the shoes of disabled people who have arrived on your website, only to be frustrated by some inaccessibility, and then land on your accessibility statement. The first part says you are accessible, that is, calls them uninformed or incompetent, and then invites them to begin the process that can lead to a nastygram to you from the DoJ or the Office of Civil Rights. Better is a Collaborative Accessibility Portal that converts adversaries into allies, and engages them in a process to make your website more accessible.
- Should I be worried about inmates looking at my website?
We can think of 3 reasons to ease your concerns:
- By Department of Corrections regulations, inmates convicted of computer-related crimes are not allowed to work for Access2online.
- Our inmates do not visit your website. They look at a copy of your website long enough to do their analysis. They cannot fill in your forms or interact with your website in any way.
- Outside of Access2online, active criminals of all kinds will be visiting your website, including hackers with far more dangerous skills than our inmates. That represents a much more serious threat than Access2online, and you should have effective security defenses against them.
- Once an inmate is released, can I hire her to work for my company?
Yes. When an inmate is released, she can continue working for Access2online from home. After all, our eTaskBoard software was designed to support the virtual workforce. Unlike most consulting firms, we are not upset if you hire away our employees. We know where we can get more, sadly 2.3 million more.
- Can you help me get an AAA accessibility rating?
Yes, but you may not wish to. Remember the "80-20 Rule", that is, that you can become 80% accessible for 20% of the time, money, and effort, and another 20% more accessible for another 80% of the time, money, and effort. If you only have the time and money to get an A accessibility rating right now, do that and get the AA or AAA rating when you can. The blind and visually impaired will thank you for that first step. Also, an A or AA rating rarely requires you to make changes that your sighted users will notice, but an AAA rating often requires you to slightly compromise the sighted person's experience.
- How long does it take for Access2online to analyze and report on my website?
If the task is to analyze a single web page for accessibility, such as a home page or search form, we can turn that around in a couple days. If we are to review an entire website of dozens of pages, that may take a week or two. In all cases, you will be asked to authorize your accessibility task which states in writing exactly how much it will cost and by what date it will be done. We look at such promises seriously, and most customers are surprised how quickly we can get the job done. If you start doing business by assigning a page or two, you will see how we do honor deadlines, and then you can assign more accessibility tasks to follow.
- How much of what I pay goes to the inmate?
Meeting federal qualifications as a Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program, the inmates assigned to this program receive wages of same or similar rate as citizens in our local communities. Deductions are made for taxes, court-ordered support, the state's general victims' fund, etc. Per federal law, inmates participating in these programs keep twenty percent of their wages for discretionary spending. Most inmates use those funds to send additional dollars home or purchase higher-end personal hygiene products, etc., saving tax-payer dollars.
- I need a website designed. Shouldn't I find someone who knows accessibility to design it?
You can find companies like that, but maybe not an individual. Just as it is important to separate design from testing, it sometimes serves to separate accessibility analysis and testing. Effective web design has evolved into a team sport, with specialists contributing their best-of-breed experience. You wouldn't expect to hire one gifted graphics designer to deliver the front end, and expect him to also be a great head-down PHP coder for the backend as well as an SEO whiz and an alpha security geek. Access2online is focused and plays well with others.
- Do you provide on-site visits, as with our development team?
Our Coordinator is happy to go on-site to meet your team. This can be an accessibility presentation for your planning phase, a Q&A session regarding our audit report, remediation tips for your web designers, etc. In most cases however, a virtual meeting with remote control software like LogMeIn or WebEx gets the job done easier and cheaper. Our analysts don't do on-site visits nor can you communicate with them directly, but we have a policy to respond with complete explanations within 24 hours to any question about an analyst's findings, in fact, we encourage such questions.