We hope you've been enjoying meeting some of the members of our team at Web Key IT, and giving them the opportunity to share some of their thoughts, interests and experience in the world of website accessibility.
This month, we'd like you to meet our very own Director,
Dr. Vivienne Conway
Vivienne leads our team of passionate accessibility specialists and is an internationally-recognised expert and speaker. She was one of the judges of the Australian Web Industry Association awards for a number of years, principally judging the nominated websites for accessibility. In addition, she regularly presents at conferences and forums about digital accessibility both in Australia and Internationally. In 2017, she was the co-General Chair of the Web For All (W4A) Conference held in Perth, Western Australia.
She is an active member of the W3C and has participated on several of the working groups for the past seven years. Particularly applicable to website accessibility, Vivienne was one of the members of the W3C task force which created the WCAG Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM). Web Key IT Pty Ltd is a full member of the W3C, one of only ten member organisations in Australia. She also won WAITTA's Achiever of the Year Award earlier this year.
Understanding and Using the Accessibility Maturity Model
Too often digital accessibility has been dealt with as a series of tick boxes that we can check off to prove that we have performed certain tasks to prove compliance, in this case with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). While this has its merits – after all you need to show your stakeholders that you are compliant with current Australian and International Standards, it is only the beginning of the journey.
WCAG 2.0 to Level AA is the Australian requirement if you want to avoid prosecution under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992
which is administered by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). Information about compliance requirements can be found on the AHRC World Wide Web Access Advisory Notes
, note particularly Section 4 for specific requirements. Further information is available from the AHRC note on Access for all: Improving accessibility for consumers with disability (2016)
. WCAG 2.0 has also been adopted as ISO 40500:2012 in its entirety, so there is no need to purchase this ISO standard, as you can download the entire WCAG 2.0 suite of documents from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
. In this last link you will find other helpful documents such as an Overview, Techniques, Understanding WCAG 2.0 and other very useful documents such as a customisable ‘QuickRef’ document.
What I want to address here is that while it is critical that all websites meet at least WCAG 2.0 to Level AA, we need to make sure we are putting the needs of the user first. Basically, using WCAG 2.0 AA is a starting point, addressing user needs through comprehensive user testing by people with disabilities and seniors, and then looking at the overall maturity of your organisation in terms of accessibility maturity.
The current model for most organisations who are addressing digital accessibility is to conduct an audit of their website and identify all accessibility violations, trying to prioritise the order in which they are remediated. One of the issues of relying on this approach is that every project seems to be trying to reinvent the wheel. Some key issues from this approach:
- Who ensures that these bugs are fixed?
- How do you know the issue won’t be repeated by the next person/team building something?
- How does the learning get shared through the organisation?
- What happens when your accessibility ‘go-to’ person leaves your organisation
- You could be fighting bush fires without ever addressing the reason for that fire
Perhaps it is time to look at the maturity of your organisation in terms of accessibility? There is a continuum from Stage 1 to 5 where an organisation can progress from “no conscious design, accessibility isn’t recognised in the design process and any accessibility happens by chance” through to “accessibility and diversity are integrated into the design process, driving creative thought and sparking innovation”.
We would be happy to sit down with you to discuss where you are in this model and how we can help you to move forward a step at a time. Please feel free to contact us for a no-obligation consultation.