Our frequently asked questions with answers
- 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. Consider our
example as a starting point
for this ongoing cooperative effort.
- What is the second thing I should do
to make my website accessible?
- We'll need to discuss whether we help your website
gain accessibility by complying to
Section 508 of the
federal Rehabilitation Act (a legal standard), or
WCAG 2.0 (a private
sector guideline). You may assume a law written for websites has more weight
than a guideline, but the Office of Civil Rights (and others) have chosen to
enforce Title III of the ADA even though it predates websites, and they often
request compliance to WCAG. If you have yet to receive an agency letter
requiring accessibility, we can discuss tradeoffs between the two, and how they
may merge. If you have received such a letter, we follow their request. The
difference for a disabled person is marginal; compliance to either presents
them with a far better user experience than without. We do need a decision to
start, however, because the analysis and failure conditions we assess should be
determined by the standard or guideline chosen.
- 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
Trusted Tester Program to provide a clear, objective answer to that
question. Our Trusted Testers have completed this comprehensive, 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 the visually impaired. We are focused on our specialty, and we do it
- What is a 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
second part of our report is a Summary of the Webmaster's Accessibility
Remediations (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 remediations 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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 a AAA
- 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
- 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
- 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 states 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 use automation software to
- 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
- 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