First step towards an accessible website: The accessibility statement
- November 24, 2020
- 3 minutes
Since September 23 of this year, every (semi-) governmental organization requires to indicate to what extent its websites comply with the guidelines of WCAG 2.1 AA. The legal basis for this lies in the ‘Tijdelijk besluit digitale toegankelijke overheid’ that came into effect on July 1, 2018. This Decree, following from the European Accessibility Act, stipulates that websites and apps of (semi-) government institutions must be accessible to everyone. We previously wrote an article about this. Since the obligation for apps only applies from September 23, 2021, we will limit ourselves in this article to the website. Public and semi-governmental institutions can indicate how far they are in this process for a specific website by drafting and publishing an accessibility statement. But what should this statement contain of? DigiToegankelijk offers an extensive explanation on its website. We summarize the most important elements for you in this article.
What do you report in an accessibility statement?
Current state of the accessibility of a website
In an accessibility statement, you take account for where you stand in the process of ensuring that your website meets the accessibility requirements. You describe the planned or fulfilled measures to make the website comply with the guidelines of WCAG 2.1 AA. You therefore also need to include a time schedule in the statement.
With the statement, a (semi) governmental institute also indicates to what extent it takes the necessary measures to ensure that its website meets the accessibility requirements. This is the so-called compliance status of your website. Your website can have one of the following statuses:
- Fully compliant (A)
A website fully complies with the guidelines of WCAG 2.1 AA.
- Partially compliant (B)
A website does not yet fully comply with the guidelines of WCAG 2.1 AA, but a number of measures have now been carried out on the basis of an audit, which means that the website is now partially compliant.
- First measures taken (C)
A website does not conform to the guidelines of WCAG 2.1 AA. No audit has been carried out yet, but it is scheduled. A government agency states that the first steps have been taken to achieve an accessible website.
- Not compliant (D)
A website does not conform to the guidelines of WCAG 2.1 AA. No audit is planned yet
- Non-compliance (E)
No accessibility statement has yet been published for the website
You may find that meeting certain WCAG requirements is disproportionately burdensome for your organization. The ‘Tijdelijk besluit digitale toegankelijke overheid’ gives you the option to indicate in your statement why certain requirements are (temporarily) not applied. However, lack of priority, time or knowledge are no legitimate reasons.
Reporting Process for Accessibility Problems
In your statement you need to describe how someone can address accessibility problems of your website and what will be done with such notification. In addition, it must be clear what to someone cab do when you do nothing with the notification.
Audit as a starting point for your statement
For a good statement about the current accessibility of your website, you need insight into the current state of the website. To get this information you do an audit. An audit must meet a number of requirements. For example, the audit must be performed manually based on the WCAG-EM evaluation method. The audit report may not be older than 36 months.
How do you publish an accessibility statement?
Drafting the statement according to the standard model
You need to include all the above elements in your statement in a well-organized manner. In order to be able to scan accessibility statements quickly and to be able to compare them properly, they must comply with a standard model. Logius has developed a tool, the invulassistent, with which you can draft your statement in the latest version of this model.
Sign the statement
The statement is a legal obligation. That is why it must be signed by an officer or director who is responsible for web accessibility within your organization and who can therefore be held accountable for this.
Publish the statement
In any case, you publish your accessibility statement on your website. The statement must be easy to find, for example on your homepage. You can also include the statement in the Register of Accessibility Statements. It is sufficient to link from your website to the full statement in this register. Another advantage is that when you are responsible for multiple websites, it is easier to you manage everything from one place.
Get started and update the statement
Drafting and publishing your accessibility statement is just a start. The statement is no more than a temporary report on the state of accessibility of your website. You must of course carry out he measures you describe in the accessibility statement. When you have done this, you process the results of this in an updated version of your statement. You can use the invulassistent again to renew your statement.
Your website is not a static medium. You make technical adjustments and you regularly add new content. It is therefore important to continue to monitor this once your website is accessible. You do this, for example, by means of automatic tests and by regularly carrying out manual audits. In any case, an audit report may not be older than 36 months.
Do you need help drafting and publishing your accessibility statement and conducting an accessibility audit? We are happy to help you! Please contact us!