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 WCAG2.1 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 2.1.
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 2.1). 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 A2o 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. Our analysts are also Website Accessibility Specialists certified by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. 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.
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 and remediate PDFs, to make them efficient and thorough but not mindless.
Should I be worried about inmates looking at my website?
We can think of 6 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.
- Walking off with copies of your information, whether web pages or PDF documents, is far harder for our inmates than on the outside. Inmates are searched regularly and without warning. If a data storage device like a USB stick or DVD is found, it is serious contraband. Back in their cells, they don't have personal computers, cellphones, or any other device able to send your data anywhere.
- Most importantly, inmate analysts value their Access2online jobs as the key to their future, and they will not risk losing it. Outsiders visiting us are amazed at the dedication and work ethic after an inmate has decided to earn themselves a second chance.
- We do have analysts who are not inmates that are available to audit any part of a site with information that is considered by a client to be sensitive.
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.
How much of what I pay goes to the inmate?
Access2online doesn't set pay rates for those assigned to the program. Their pay is governed by a collection of complex state and federal laws that take into account numerous factors such as the local rate for similar work in the private sector, victim's restitution, and re-entry savings accounts. Unlike in the private sector, Access2online cannot just hand money to those who work in the prison.
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 have inmates on the internet?
Federal and state laws prohibit live, unmonitored internet access for inmates. We take those laws seriously. Our analysts use PCs on a local area network without internet access. One of the important goals of a prison is to cut an inmate's communication with their criminal associates and allow inmates to forge a life without such dependencies. We have a secure system that routes all internet communication such as client tasks and website copies through a human Coordinator responsible for prison security.
Are your inmates programming?
So you noticed warnings and errors checking our website with WebAIM's popular WAVE tool?
We have been able to remove any errors flagged by WAVE even though they did not fully meet the requirements to be actual violations. There are however some alerts that continue to be flagged even when we've done all we can to meet the accessibility requirements. For a better explanation of how WAVE works please see our Wave Flags page.