You’ve gone through the process of finding the right Content Management System (CMS) provider to build your website. Then came the laborious process of design. Your marketing team filtered through hundreds, maybe thousands, of images, lost sleep over taglines, syntax and verbiage and changed the launch date of your site at least five times, but finally your site is live.
But chances are, unless your CMS provider has made a concerted effort to ensure accessibility during the design and build process, your shiny new site probably isn’t accessible to people with disabilities. To fulfill their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other ADA-related laws and guidelines, CMS providers should build their platforms and the templates that power your website using the informative guidance supplied via the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) put forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
But the buck doesn’t stop there. Accessibility doesn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of your CMS provider at the platform level. There’s more to it.
At AudioEye, we like to use the analogy of building an office complex. We work with your CMS provider, through an elite partnership, to provide guidance and ensure the “building” – or platform – is being built with accessibility in mind.
Websites are coded to ensure the foundation and structure take into consideration the many disability use-cases that require specific accommodations. In the same sense that a contractor must take measures to ensure entry ways are equipped with ramps and rails, the proper amount of disability access parking spaces are provided and properly labelled, braille and audible instructions are provided for elevator access, doorways are built wide enough and drinking fountains provide enough clearance to accommodate wheelchair access, it’s equally important that website designers, developers and content creators take measures to ensure equal access to the digital programs, services and information supplied through the environments they build.
For every ADA-related requirement and best practices required of those brick and mortar locations, there is an equal amount of consideration for those creating digital content and resources.
But, that's not all. In addition to ensuring that the structure, or platform, of a website is made accessible, the individual pieces of content that you publish within that CMS environment must also be made accessible. To go back to our favorite analogy, when it comes to “moving in” to your accessible office complex, as the tenant, it’s equally important that you don’t fill your accessible space with inaccessible furniture. To rip a real-world example from recent headlines, if your sidewalks and on-ramps are wide enough and properly configured to accommodate a person in a wheelchair, but the pathway is obstructed by an endless amount of scooters strewn about, you’ve created a bunch of access barriers that may impede access to your business establishment.
The same logic applies to being a tenant within a multi-tenant CMS platform. Assume that, for example, your marketing team deems it necessary to add a carousel to the home page to promote various events and news. If the structure and fundamental components of the carousel are properly configured complete with pause functionality and meaningfully labelled controls, but the images you upload to the carousel are not properly labelled or images of text are uploaded with no consideration for a user who is relying upon a screen reader to relay information to the end-user, an access barrier is created that may limit or fully impede access for those users.
Today, most websites are highly dynamic and ever-changing. As your site changes – as most sites are prone to do – additional inaccessible features or content may be added, unbeknownst to you or your CMS provider.
So who does the onus of accessibility fall on?
As a service provider, your site should be accessible at the platform level. As the service provider’s client – the tenant – the content on your site should also be accessible. Unfortunately, ensuring both of these things isn’t always easy. Oftentimes, with the dynamic web, finding websites that are accessible in both ways is the exception, not the rule. This is where AudioEye steps in. Through our strategic partnership with Simpleview, AudioEye is able to provide our fully managed service to partners’ broad and diverse client bases. With our partners, their clients are relying upon a single consistent platform, which tends to encompass many of the same element types and coding standards. Because of this, the cost of acquisition is dramatically reduced, and economies of scale come into play, which helps make accessibility accessible to clients that would otherwise neglect accessibility or have no practical way of ensuring accessibility best practices are taken into account.
Bottom line is, accessibility is everyone’s responsibility. It is changing your mindset, your outlook, your mentality. It’s becoming more aware and adopting a lifestyle of inclusivity – in both the physical and digital world.
For more information about Audioeye and digital accessibility, contact the Simpleview Account Services team at firstname.lastname@example.org.