Sep 06 2019
Sep 06

Diagnosing a website for accessibility and fixing any issues that are uncovered is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. 

Every site has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. Plus, site owners vary widely in their level of expertise and the availability of resources that can be devoted to accessibility -- which includes diagnosing the site, making the necessary modifications, and ensuring that the tools and expertise are in place to maintain compliance. 

That’s why flexibility is an essential criteria when seeking ADA Section 508 accessibility solutions.

Another key: a consultative approach. Generally speaking, developers and content editors aren’t hired for their knowledge of WCAG 2.1, and for most organizations, this expertise is not mission critical. Tapping the expertise of a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) is the most efficient and effective path for bringing a site into compliance.

For organizations that partner with Promet Source to transition their websites into compliance, the process consists of a series of value-added steps in a specific order.  

The following graphic depicts the essential steps involved in an Accessibility Audit in which Promet review all facets of a website’s accessibility relative to WCAG 2.1, and consults with site owners on remediation. 

A circular graphic that indicates the six steps in a Promet Source Accessibility Audit. 1. PA11Y Setup 2. PA11Y Remediation 3. Round 1 Manual Audit 4. Round 1 Remediation 5. Round 2 Manual Audit 6. Final Statements

PA11Y Setup

A11Y is an abbreviation for accessibility, with the number 11 representing the number of letters between the first and last letter. PA11Y is an automated testing tool that scans web pages to detect inaccessibility. While automated testing is an essential component of the accessibility audit process, it cannot be counted on to be comprehensive. 

On average, automated testing detects approximately 30 percent of a site’s accessibility errors. The errors detected by automated testing tend to be the “low-hanging fruit” found within global elements across the site, as well as logins, landing pages, and representative page templates.

PA11Y Remediation

What sets Promet apart following this initial, automatic testing phase is a high degree of consultation, along with a list of custom code fixes for bringing the site into compliance. Additionally, for a year following the audit, clients have the advantage of a dashboard, that serves as a tool from which pages can be scanned and red flagged for accessibility errors.

It’s also important to point out that at the onset of the audit process, it might not be clear what remediation will entail. For any number of reasons, clients who initially intended to manage the remediation in house, might opt for a different approach once they gain an understanding of the scope of work involved.

Round 1 Manual Audit 

The manual audit does not occur until all of the issues flagged by the PA11Y scan are fixed. This process is facilitated by the customized code fixes that Promet provides, along with a dashboard that provides a roadmap of sorts for tracking progression and red flagging issues that need to be fixed.  

As mentioned above, the PA11Y scan cannot be counted on to detect all of the accessibility errors on a site. Manual testing is required to root out the deeper errors, which are the issues that have a greater tendency to expose site owners to legal liability. Among them:

  • Keyboard testing,
  • Color contrast testing,
  • Screen reader testing,
  • Link testing,
  • Tables and forms testing,
  • Cognitive testing, and 
  • Mobile testing.

If a site is revealed to be unresponsive, this finding can result in a recommendation to not move forward with remediation. Another potential remediation deal breaker: a mobile site that is not consistent in terms of content and functionality with the desktop site, as a mobile site is required to have the same content as its desktop counterpart.

It’s important to note that a strong accessibility initiative has been built into Drupal 8, and that will continue to be the case for Drupal 9 and subsequent updates. At this point, we have found Drupal to be the best CMS in terms of accessibility.

Round 1 Remediation

Promet is in close consultation with clients during the manual audit, and walks through every component of success criteria before the client moves forward with Round 1 Remediation.

A customized plan is created that varies according to depth and breadth of remediation work required, as well as the in-house expertise, and available resources. Depending on client needs, the plan can incorporate various levels of consultation, and either online or in-person training.

Working closely with both content editors and developers, the training focuses on the required remediation steps, as well as how to write code that’s accessible. Ensuring the accessibility of PDFs is another key area of focus.  

The remediation dashboard serves as an essential tool during and following Round 1 remediation. The dashboard flags errors and issues warnings which then need to be manually reviewed and addressed.

Round 2 Manual Audit

The Round 2 Audit represents the final review, along with ongoing consultation concerning any remediation challenges that have proven to be complex, and best practices for maintaining compliance. The Round 2 Audit won’t begin until all errors reported in the Round 1 Audit have been remediated to 0 errors.

Final Statements

Once all recommended remediation has been completed and verified, final statements are prepared. The final statements provide official language that the audit and remediation are complete. A final Statement of Accessibility and Statement of Work Completed will be provided. Optimally, a complete Statement of Conformance is issued, but in instances where the site links to third-party vendors, (which is often the case) and the vendor sites are not accessible, a Statement of Partial Conformance is issued, along with an explanation of the site owner’s good-faith efforts. 

It is recommended that instances of inaccessibility be reported to third-parties that are linked to the site. Often the result is ongoing remediation work and ultimately, a comprehensive Statement of Conformance.

Moving Forward

Without exception, Promet clients report a high degree of added value during and following an accessibility audit. The education, consultation, and opportunity to dig deep and deconstruct aspects of a site that no longer serve the organizational mission fuels a better and wiser team of developers and content editors. Plus, the dashboard that remains in place for a full year, is an essential resource for staying on track.

In the current climate, websites are highly dynamic and serve as the primary point of engagement for customers and constituents. Constantly evolving sites call for an ongoing focus on accessibility, and an acknowledgement that staff turnover can erode the education, expertise, and commitment to accessibility that is in place at the conclusion of an audit. For this reason, a bi-annual or annual audit, which can be viewed essentially as an accessibility refresh, is a highly recommended best practice. Interested in kicking off a conversation about auditing your site for accessibility? Contact us today.

Jul 02 2019
Jul 02

The majority of communications regarding digital accessibility tend to focus on websites only. Too often, it’s overlooked that PDFs  are also required to be accessible. Here are some guidelines to help in the review and remediation of existing documents, along with guidance for ensuring accessibility of PDFs as they are created.  

PDF Maps

  • For larger, more detailed maps:
    • Upgrade to the latest version of ERSI.
    • Use ESRI for all large/detailed maps from departments such as Zoning, GIS, and Public Works.
    • Link to these larger maps in meeting agendas and minutes.
  • Options for simpler maps:
    • Convert to Google Maps whenever possible
    • Keep it as a PDF document but make it accessible by following these steps:
      • Run the PDF map through the Acrobat accessibility checker tool.
      • Address all accessibility issues revealed.
      • Note: This process is more time-consuming as it will involve tagging each of the images or image hot-spots.

Scanned and Inaccessible PDFs

If the PDF document is not accessible (i.e. scanned document), there are a few options for how to deal with it:

  • Convert scanned PDFs to instantly editable text using automatic OCR software in Acrobat Pro.
  • Create an accessible alternative version of the document in one or more of the following formats:
    • Google Maps
    • ESRI GIS
    • Large Print
    • CD
    • Braille
    • Audio
  • List it on the site as a historical document where your users can contact you to get access to it in various forms that can include:
    • Electronic copy
    • Printed copy
    • Reading it aloud for users who are blind
  • Important note: If one of these three options cannot is not possible, then the document should be completely removed from the site to avoid litigation and confusion.

Static and Fillable PDFs

Decide whether the PDF should be:

  • Converted to an online HTML form (recommended)
  • Made to be an accessible PDF

If you decide to convert it to an online HTML form:

  • Create an online HTML form based on the fields in the fillable PDF. If there are any fields that aren’t necessary, remove them.
  • Test the form to make sure that it meets all WCAG Level A/AA standards

If you decide to make it an accessible PDF:

  • Run the fillable PDF through the Acrobat accessibility checker tool
  • Fix all accessibility issues using the Acrobat accessibility checker tool
  • Offer alternative formats. In order to give your users more accessible alternatives, content within PDFs should also be available in the following formats:
    • Google Maps
    • ESRI GIS
    • Large Print
    • CD
    • Braille
    • Audio

When creating new documents

  • Always start from a source document (i.e. Word, Excel).
  • Make the source document accessible by using its accessibility checker tool.
  • Convert the source document to PDF format using the recommended steps.
  • Check the new PDF file with the accessibility checker tool.
  • Address all accessibility issues using the Acrobat accessibility checker tool.

Consider the above guidelines to be a start, and most importantly, a reminder that document accessibility is not an option but a requirement.

For help or further guidance with the full range of your online accessibility issues, Promet Source offers expert, targeted expertise and support. Contact us and let us know how we can help with ensuring the accessibility of your digital assets.

For a deeper dive:

Jun 10 2019
Jun 10

Smart business decisions tend to be equated with cutting costs and saving money.
Over the past decade or so, “Better! Faster! Cheaper!” has become the rallying cry for business process reengineering and new initiatives within every sector. As a developer and former business owner, I get this. Efficiency is essential.
I tend to look favorably on the fastest, most streamlined solution, and as such, I have a lot of empathy for clients who are seeking fast fixes to ensure that their websites and all of their digital assets get into compliance with WCAG 2.1 for ADA accessibility.
But as a developer, my focus is, first and foremost, on solving problems, and I can state unequivocally that overlays can't be counted on to solve the challenges associated with digital accessibility.
A recent web accessibility legal case, Haynes vs. Hooters set the precedent that organizations are required to remediate their actual code and not rely on band-aid dashboards or overlay solutions that appear to represent a quick fix that requires seemingly little hands-on maintenance.

Here are 4 key challenges inherent to overlays:

  1. Visually impaired users don't typically use them. They tend to have their own tools with their own voice and reader settings with which they are comfortable and proficient based on their experience and ability level. Your goal is to make your code available to whatever tools and devices they prefer using, not force them to use your overlay tool that has pre-selected settings and options.
  2. Visually impaired users typically have their own stylesheets and ways to access the web. They don’t tend to use presets from widgets because widgets complicate the experience for them and the inability to disable or override them can be frustrating.
  3. Overlays simply don't work well with mobile devices unless a significant expenditure is invested in customizing them to the individual site.
  4. Overlays basically amount to putting a line of Javascript code that pulls preloaded information onto your site. So even if the overlay has been customized as part of your package, to make it fully compliant it's nearly impossible to keep it that way, because accessibility issues can re-emerge with any subsequent change to your site.


Sustainable Website Compliance Solutions

Promet Source serves as an accessibility partner, committed to real and lasting accessibility solutions.
We conduct both automated and manual testing holistically, from the perspective of the entire spectrum of disabled users and available Assistive Technology -- recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all fix. This list of automated testing tools, recognized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), demonstrates the wide range of testing options and the need for focused expertise. 
Our clients interact closely with both accessibility and developer certified experts throughout engagement and have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification every step along the way.
After guiding clients through the remediation process of actually fixing code to conform to WCAG 2.1 standards, we provide tools and resources to ensure that your development team has the training and knowledge to maintain your sites conformance.
We look forward to consulting with you about your specific accessibility objectives and working toward a solution that best addresses your needs.

May 07 2019
May 07

In a world where global positioning systems appear to have a handle on every square inch of the roads we’re traveling on, doesn’t it seem like there should be automated website accessibility testing tools that function as well as -- if not better -- than manual testing? 

The fact is ... it’s complicated.

There are efficient automated testing systems that reveal important findings -- many of which you can easily access and apply to your site. But the web accessibility testing landscape is littered with offers of automated testing solutions that claim to provide fast fixes for the full spectrum of your digital assets. You might have already received an offer based on an unsolicited test of your site, alerting you that your site is a prime candidate for a website accessibility lawsuit. 

If that notification and offer does not include a comprehensive web accessibility testing checklist, it’s likely to be laden with pitfalls. One unsolicited finding, based on automated accessibility testing, does not reflect how your site is faring on all accessibility metrics. Automated accessibility testing tools simply cannot detect every potential issue that would cause your site to be noncompliant. Nor does an automated test provide adequate information for web accessibility remediation or mitigate your legal risk.

Avoid Unintended Consequences

Too often, overlay accessibility solutions create a scenario in which one fix leads to unintended consequences in your code and results in the need for further fact-finding and fixes. Subsequent changes to your site’s UI tend to break the overlay, setting in motion a constant cycle of diagnostics and fixes. 

Keep in mind that many automated ADA web accessibility testing tools are free to use and can produce relatively robust results. It might be just as easy for you to conduct this kind of test on your own, and gain a cursory understanding of accessibility issues affecting your site. Consider giving a web accessibility testing tool such as Code Sniffer a try.

Automated accessibility testing tools overlook critical information -- especially when the testing has occurred without your knowledge by someone with whom you have not had a conversation about your objectives and the full scope of your digital assets.

Get it Right the First Time

Promet serves as an ADA accessibility partner that conducts both automated and manual testing holistically from the perspective of the full spectrum of disabled users and available Assistive Technology. We guide clients through the remediation process, actually fixing the code to conform to WCAG 2.1  guidelines. We also provide tools and resources that enable your team needs to maintain your site in conformance moving forward

Our ADA accessibility testing tools and processes go deeper and wider than what automated testing can reveal. We explore a range of issues that require hands-on, manual testing. We look into the unique features of your site, and we take your organization’s mission into account. 

During our engagement process, we start with the development of your scorecard, which reports on our analysis of your site from several different angles. 

Understand Your Options

The scorecard is not intended to serve as a thorough report or to provide formal recommendations. It functions instead as a high-level overview for purposes of starting the conversation that will help you to choose the best path.

For example, we might find that you are using a content management system that is designed to adhere to ADA accessibility requirements, but that your content developers aren't using appropriate techniques when posting. Fixing existing content issues without understanding the reason the issues exist, simply means your site will quickly fall back into noncompliance. A simple process change might be all that’s needed to fix this situation. 

Other fixes, however, might require a fundamental overhaul of your site. If your site was created on a platform that is out of sync with ADA accessibility guidelines, it might be more cost effective to rebuild rather than to launch a series of workarounds. 

As experts in this field, we are clear on the fact that quick fixes, which sound too good to be true, usually are. Our objective is to create real accessibility solutions that enable you to move forward with the confidence that your site is accessible to all people with or without disabilities and that you reduce your risk of being faced with a lawsuit due to noncompliance. 

Leverage Expertise

The decision process associated with web accessibility remediation can feel overwhelming. It is outside of the core competency of most organizations. That's why it’s important to work with a trusted web accessibility consultant. 

The scorecard that we offer as part of your remediation process serves as a critical starting point for helping others in your organization to get an overview of your site's noncompliance and the level of effort that will be involved in the remediation. 

We find that when all stakeholders have an understanding of the process and are vested in the importance of doing the right thing, remediation comes into focus.

We are happy to review with you any emails concerning non compliance that you may have gotten by surprise -- or any unsolicited emails full of dire warnings about a potential lawsuit. 

As a leading expert on web accessibility testing tools, we’ve witnessed untold versions of quick fixes that have given rise to a whole host of complications. If you are looking to get it right the first time with the added benefit of value-added solutions, contact us today.

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