by Sam Stemler
Like all essential rules and procedures, website accessibility requires proper documentation. For government websites, ADA website accessibility compliance documentation is required. Though ADA compliance for private business websites isn’t yet required by law, expensive civil suits can and have happened. ADA website accessibility compliance documentation gives you proof that your organization takes website accessibility seriously, and protects you from legal battles. Keeping documents organized is not always easy, however. In this blog post, we’ll cover ADA website accessibility compliance documentation best practices, so you can stay on top of accessibility.
ADA Website Accessibility Compliance Documentation Best Practices
What to Document
To make sure that your ADA website accessibility compliance documents cover all the bases, you need to know what your documentation should include. For many compliance matters, documentation requirements are clearly spelled out in legislation, or detailed by government agencies. Unfortunately, this is not the case for web accessibility. However, compliance documents required in other cases can help to inform what you’ll need for ADA website accessibility compliance documentation. Your accessibility documentation should at least contain the following items, and others may also be helpful depending on your organization’s needs.
- Policies: Web accessibility requirements, expectations and procedures should all be clearly written out.
- Training: Any training manuals, dates, sessions, instructors, and attendees should be recorded.
- Updates: Record when policies and assets are updated and how they are updated.
- Audits: Keep documents of all auditing procedures and web accessibility testing tools.
- Staff: Everyone responsible for web accessibility training and maintenance should be in these documents, and these names should be current.
- Problems and remediation: Complaints or discoveries having to do with website accessibility, as well as the process for filing and resolving them, should be clearly documented.
Keep your policies organized
Download the Website Accessibility Checklist
Easy to Find
Documentation, especially those needed for employee reference, such as policies, are not useful unless they are easy to find. Use a file sharing system to make sure they are easy to find, and be sure that all employees and new hires know where this is. This might be a shared hard-drive, a file sharing system like Google Docs, or a communal document storage space like DropBox. Whatever you use, be sure that your employees know when it is updated, and where they can find the most recent version. If your employees are all looking at old versions of the documents, future updates won’t be useful. Finally, make sure that these are well-organized using a clear file naming convention, so employees don’t have to hunt for what they need.
Easy to Read and Understand
When it comes to web accessibility documentation that your employees must use and understand, complexity is not an indicator of quality. Your policies should make sense with each person’s level of technical understanding. For example, if someone only adds text and images to the blog section of your website, requiring them to learn programming languages doesn’t make sense. Use clear and straightforward language, and try to avoid jargon where possible. Clearly state what an employee can do and who they can ask if they have a question about the policies.
Accurate and Updated
Technology changes fast. Website accessibility policies that are outdated or inaccurate are generally not useful, so this is an especially important part of your documentation process. Otherwise, all the other efforts you’ve put into making high-quality documents and procedures will be wasted.
As your website or technology changes, some accessibility policies will become obsolete, and new ones will need to be enacted. A system for updating your technology, your accessibility policies, and your overall ADA website accessibility compliance documents should be clearly laid out. Staff will also need to know when these changes are made, so they will know when to look at policies for updates.