Access2online: Accessibility on a Budget
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Resources -- FAQs

Our frequently asked questions with answers
Rev: 08/27/17
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 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 well.

  5. 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.o standard.

    The 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.

  6. 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.


  7. 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.

  8. Can you help me get a 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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