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Website Accessibility Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Standard In Relation to WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1?

The regulation states the requirement is demonstrate compliance with Levels A and AA of WCAG 2.0.

Can You Explain The Difference Between Level A and AA?

Level A and Level AA are 2 separate, non-sequential standards set by WCAG 2.0. The regulation requires websites to conform to the individual checkpoints of Level A and Level AA. Achievement of Level AA (its own checkpoints) doesn’t mean you have achieved compliance, as achieving Level AA solely would mean you have not met the checkpoints of Level A.

What Constitutes Reasonable Adjustment – What Is The Standard?

As of 2018 the website accessibility standard is 100% compliance on Levels A and AA.
Though the DOJ has stepped away from enacting rules to codify WCAG 2.0 success criteria, other governmental agencies remain active. The U.S. Access Board’s Section 508 Refresh provided a blanket mandate for the use of WCAG 2.0 A and AA requirements as the baseline for the updated Section 508 requirements, which went into effect on January 18, 2018.

So, while no specific technical standards for the ADA compliance of websites exist, we are reasonably confident in selecting the WCAG 2.0 A and AA requirements as the likely ADA technical standards. These standards are what the majority of settlements use as a baseline. Examples are:

State of NY
New York Becomes the First US City to Set a Benchmark. On the 14th March 2016, Bill de Blassio, the 109th mayor of New York City passed bills into law that requires government websites to meet specific accessibility standards. No major US city had broached accessibility with legislation prior to this, but New York has lit the torch and now other States and local governments are likely to follow.

The new law requires that within 6 months the City must establish a website protocol that incorporates:

(1) Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Section 508”);
(2) WCAG 2.0 AA; or
(3) any “successor” standards. This marks the first time a major city in the United States has adopted legislation of this kind.

Airline Compliance

Airlines around the world are struggling to even come close to complying with regulations imposed in the US by the US DOT / Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The Act applies to all airlines that market air transportation services to US consumers for any routes to or from the United States, and required them to work towards compliance in two stages, the detail of these available at: https://508.sitemorse.com/static/docs/2017-12-04-PragmaticStepsTowardsCompliance.6214abfec5b6.pdf

The specifics of regulation are contained at the end of this document.

What Does ADA 508 / WCAG 2.0 Compliance Entail?

The client’s website(s) must meet ADA 508 / WCAG 2.0 compliance guidelines across all two (2) levels: A and AA. Though enforcement penalties may apply, the primary significance of compliance is for the client to provide a better experience for its visitors and for the disabled to have the site contents accessible to them in a manner that meets compliance standards. Failure to meet accessibility compliance standards leaves the client vulnerable to lawsuits.

Not only is there a standard of achieving compliance, in absence of compliance, the client needs to demonstrate continued progression towards compliance and the ability to do so has been documented in case law to impact the outcome of litigation and rulings.

What Differentiates Sitemorse® 508 From Other Platforms

The method by which Sitemorse® 508 Platform addresses compliance differentiates it from all other website compliance auditing and testing platforms. Sitemorse® provides documentation of the client’s journey towards compliance in two significant ways: (1) Sitemorse® 508 Platform date, timestamps and archives the client site each the same day each week, creating a uniform compliance status update which automatically benchmarks the client’s work scope and (2) each client has the ability to run and rerun audits as often as they wish and each time they do the site is date, time-stamped and archived for seven (7) years.

A big differentiator of the Sitemorse® 508 Platform is that the client has the self service administrative capacity to prioritize and organize the compliance work scope how they see fit and modify their priorities as they progress through their compliance journey.

What Makes The Sitemorse® 508 Platform So Unique?

It was designed for simplicity and efficiency (instead of overwhelmingly complicated reporting). As a result you’ll spend less money, much less time and show accessibility adjustment much faster. Using automation to empower your organization, large or small to demonstrate accessibility adjustment, while removing the limitations of manual efforts.

A differentiator of the Sitemorse® 508 service is that the client has the self service administrative capacity to prioritize and organize the compliance work scope how they see fit and modify their priorities as they progress through their compliance journey.

Sitemorse® 508 enables organizations to move away from endless reporting – which is often counterproductive and towards using intelligence to deliver a great online user experience. This focus on action over mere monitoring enables the client to continually optimize performance and ensures that they can adhere to both internal standards and to external compliance regulations.

Sitemorse® 508 offers organizations a continuous improvement journey that is measurable and quantifiable, rather than merely sending users long, complicated reports that all too often go unread and unactioned.

Sitemorse® 508 was designed to provide documentation of the client’s journey towards compliance and accomplishes that in two significant ways: (1) Sitemorse® 508 Platform date, timestamps and archives the client site each the same day each week, creating a uniform compliance status update which automatically benchmarks the client’s work scope and (2) each client has the ability to run and rerun audits as often as they wish and each time they do, their site is date, time-stamped and archived for seven (7) years.

After each audit, the client’s compliance performance statistics are updated.

ROI can be views in two ways:
(1) Automated vs Manual Auditing: Manual testing and auditing takes 7-11 minutes per page, then management time to consolidate the many results. Thereafter, it takes time to prioritize what needs to be worked on first in order to make the greatest improvements. Typically Sitemorse® 508 Platform costs 60-85% less than manual auditing and testing (90% more accurate and many many times faster).

(2) Sitemorse® 508 Platform vs remaining non-compliant or working towards compliance without the ability to provide date and time-stamped, documented, consistent, archived progression towards compliance. Being vulnerable to lawsuits and defending them at a cost of more than $50,000 vs. a fraction of the cost for the Sitemorse® 508 Platform.

Real Time Reporting vs Data Dump

Prioritized Real Time Reporting
Sitemorse® 508 Platform offers organizations a continuous improvement journey that is measurable and quantifiable, rather than merely sending users long, complicated reports that all too often go unread and unactioned.

Reports, results, diagnostics….until now this may have been overwhelming – the challenge of actually focusing on what actions are going to make the greatest improvements (Experience, Optimisation or Compliance) until now has been a significant hurdle for demonstrating compliance adjustment. With new levels of automation and intelligence Sitemorse® 508 Platform presents the key pages to action, together with workflow to allocate and manage.

Sitemorse® was founded over a decade ago and first built its reputation on the success of launching arguably the first automated website auditing service. Sitemorse® has helped hundreds of enterprises from industry, commerce and the public sector, including many major corporations (our partial client list).

Essentially, Sitemorse® looks to improve efficiency and protect its clients’ online presence. It does this by replacing manual checking procedures and processes by augmenting existing CMS, software and systems with Software as a Service (SaaS) to drive agile publishing and continuous assessment across everything digital.

Data Dump of Non-Prioritized Information
Due to the lack of platform prioritization capabilities, typical compliance reporting results in data dump of non-actionable information which is often counterproductive. The focus on data, rather than intelligent action, limits the client’s ability to demonstrate reasonable accessibility adjustment.

This makes it difficult for organizations to adhere to both internal standards and to external compliance regulations. The result of this ‘data dump’ reporting is that the client ends up spending much more time and money by not being able to allocate their resources more productively.

Sitemorse® vs SiteImprove and Free Audit Sites

We believe our service offers clients a more in-depth level of reportable diagnostics than that offered by Siteimprove and other services. Prospective clients who have completed direct, like-for-like comparisons have supported this (read the Sitemorse vs Siteimprove Whitepaper).

“Because Sitemorse analysis goes deeper, it reveals issues not found by other products . . .”
– London South Bank University (Read Case Study)

We are the only provider to offer both: (1) Prioritisation on the greatest improvement to all visitors
And (2) the Intelligence engine to process and distribute the results by role. This prevents endless reporting and helps to drive compliance in a more timely, efficient manner.

“The ability to prioritse what items to focus in has been really helpful”
– Ivey Business School at Western University (Read Case Study)

With the Sitemorse® 508 Platform, once an assessment is run, a score out of 10 is awarded to the overall website, as well as for individual categories such as Accessibility, Performance, SEO, and others. This allows users of the Sitemorse® 508 Platform to benchmark, track, and report on, improvements being made across their site, as part of the organisation’s Governance framework. To Sitemorse®’s knowledge this is not available with the Sitemorse® 508 Platform.

One of the major challenges for digital managers is that of prioritisation, especially around assigning resources to changes that may need to be made to web content or code, across distributed content editors, as part of a programme of ongoing optimisation.

Sitemorse® 508 Platform is focused on a proactive service to support digital managers with the provision of ongoing reporting and analysis via a dashboard, whereas SiteImprove (based on client feedback), offers ‘snapshot’ reporting every 5 days, each report being the latest results, against which individuals ‘react’ and make corrections which they feel are appropriate, rather than what might be of greatest value to the user, and therefore the organisation. Sitemorse®, also have an additional offering of site assessment – Prioritisation Intelligence™ – which presents the key pages to action, together with workflow processes to allocate and manage changes across teams. This will transform how content actions are located, prioritised, distributed and monitored across your organisation, through the provision of a shortlist of high-value actions that can be straightforwardly managed and monitored

Sitemorse® recognised this issue and developed a service to rid teams of the, apparently random, reaction to ‘snapshot’ report results. This has led to key differences in the direction that Sitemorse® and Siteimprove have taken in assessing web pages.

Sitemorse® can demonstrate a more in-depth and thorough capability across additional tests, checks and measures, giving digital managers and teams the confidence that their website delivers the best possible, compliant, experience for all.

One of the unique capabilities of Sitemorse® 508 Platform is scalability. The service can grow with you, initially moving you from a ‘reacting to reports’ service, like Siteimprove, to a proactive approach to the management of content using Sitemorse® 508 Platform Foundation.

As Sitemorse® 508 Platform can diagnose more issues, we are more likely to report on differing aspects, as well as a greater number of items that require attention

Sitemorse® 508 Platform is more thorough in its page by page assessment results, discovering pages with issues on a more consistent basis than Siteimprove.

Client feedback indicates that Sitemorse offers up to 40% more capability when looking at WCAG2.0 content assessment, as we can diagnose more issues, and therefore report on differing aspects of accessibility, as well as report on a greater number of items that need attention.

Benchmarking

 

Sitemorse® 508 Platform provides documentation of the client’s journey towards compliance in two significant ways: (1) Sitemorse® 508 Platform date, timestamps and archives the client site each the same day each week, creating a uniform compliance status update which automatically benchmarks the client’s work scope and (2) each client has the ability to run and rerun audits as often as they wish and each time they do the site is date, time-stamped and archived for seven (7) years.

Benchmarking methodology is proportional to pages audited. Sitemorse® has audited many billions of URL addresses in some 15 years.

Our benchmarking has been used across corporate and government organizations for over 10 years. It has been our experience that the sample audit represents a more favorable performance result than the overall site, as pages with of lesser priority tend to me be more neglected.

Subscription vs Find Out Where Your Website Really Stands Free Audit

Free Find Out Where Your Website Really Stands Free Audit
Sitemorse® 508 Platform provides a “better than risk free trial”, offering completely free, live platform access to 12 pages of a client’s website, forever, free from credentialized login. Our free audit reports are limited to the initial 12 pages and rerunning the audit will not add additional or distinctive pages.

Rather than provide a time-restricted, limited trial, Sitemorse® 508 Platform provides lifetime access for a client’s development team, editors and management to engage with our audit, testing and reporting platform “live” without restriction (for the 12 pages included).

Our team believes that once your team has the opportunity to thoroughly kick the tires, view the prioritized reporting by team function (management, content editor and developer), and see how our platform helps you achieve reasonable accessibility adjustment, you’ll come to the conclusion that the Sitemorse platform is the only game in town.

Subscription Service
The subscription enhances the services beyond the initial 12 pages, prioritized for Management, Content Editors and Developers with weekly benchmark timestamped archived reporting and real time updated statistical reporting available to the user 24/7.

Keeping Your New Content Compliant

Sitemorse® 508 Platform helps your content editors and developers keep newly published content compliant by providing the ability to sort by pages publication date so that page elements can be identified and brought into compliance (pdfs, word, docs, graphics, video, images, page structure (h1, h2 etc)

Seamlessly managing accessibility, as a page is in the publishing workflow – without any change to current process is now possible, rather than it taking 11-17 minutes to accurately check a page.

In terms of value to the business, the reduction in publishing lead time can be significant – what can also be tangible is also the significant reduction is staff training and support, no more ‘this Brand update’, new Accessibility guidelines to follow, ensure you do not do X as it infringes this regulatory standard.

Sitemorse® 508 Platform checks the pages as they are seen by a site visitor, not as previewed by a content manager – the key limitation of many content management systems (CMS). When we assess the page, we ‘see’ it as your site visitor would, this includes any external content, links and content within documents such as PDFs.

Why Content Management (CMS) Systems Fail Compliance
When we look at and delve into the detail of web accessibility the case for not relying on the CMS becomes even more apparent – fundamentally a CMS is a framework for content management, it shouldn’t be held accountable for the content users add – a bit like a car manufacturer isn’t responsible for the actions of drivers.

Reduce Vulnerability To Lawsuits

Sitemorse®508 provides proven automation that empowers an organization, large or small, to demonstrate accessibility adjustment while removing the limitations of manual efforts.

First stage of risk management is understanding where you are, until this can be clearly ascertained risk is really quite unknown. Once understood can take proactive steps to prioritise what is going to be actioned and by whom, platform is also going to monitor this for you.

One of the key requirements of the regulation relates to and being able to demonstrate ‘reasonable adjustment’ accompanied by a process to ensure improvement is continual. This being the basis of our service to you.

Sitemorse® 508 Platform User Interface Superiority

View the video: https://youtu.be/XoCoPor-xo0

We realized the need for organizations to:
(1) Prioritize the work scope according to importance and visibility of the issues and
(2) For people in different roles to be able to view the data their particular role requires
For That Reason, Sitemorse® 508 Platform Provides Role Based Reporting: Management level access, Page Editor level access and Developer level access, all within one platform.

Sitemorse 508 Management view screenshot
For Management (A Quick Statistical Overview)
A single screen inside the platform displays 4 essential elements in real time
the percentage of pages with priority issues

  • Pages with issues in compliance level: A
  • Pages with issues in compliance level: AA
  • Pages with issues in compliance level: AAA

Management can instantly see the progress being made for each essential element simply by viewing the historical graph.

Website Accessibility Platform view for content editors screenshot
For Content Editors (View Content Requiring Immediate Attention)
Content editors can easily view the top 10 pages which require action.
The content that requires immediate attention highlighted on the page itself to provide an easy to understand explanation of how to fix each issue (without the need for development or coding experience).
Website Accessibility developer view of Sitemorse platform
For The Developer (A Prioritized Work Scope and Code Diagnostic Tool)
The prioritized work scope provides the developer with prioritized issues they need to deal with across compliance levels A and AA.
The diagnostic tool enables the developer to dive right into each line of non-compliant code and receive a help dialog to define the issue.

Why Sitemorse® 508 Platform Sets The ADA WCAG 2.0 Standard

The Distinguishing Characteristic of our Sitemorse® 508 Platform Is that it was designed for simplicity and efficiency (instead of overwhelmingly complicated reporting). The Result is you’ll spend less money, much less time and show accessibility adjustment much faster using automation to empower your organization, large or small to demonstrate accessibility adjustment, while removing the limitations of manual efforts.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

WordPress, Drupal and other content management systems were not designed for compliance. So called “compliant” themes and plugins typically do not provide compliance capability. As a result, it’s very difficult to become compliant and manage compliance as new posts, pages and content are added.

CMS Limitations

  • Not designed to be a compliant platform
  • The “published” page is unknown to the CMS and only ‘sees’:
    • Templates
    • Assets
    • Elements
  • Not created to manage compliance
  • Built as a framework against which content can be published.
  • Cannot ‘see’ all the page content
  • Media limitations
    • PDF’s cannot be audited

Digital Agencies

Compliance rests with the site owner, not the agency, vendor or CMS platform. The site owner is the one that faces the regulatory questions and legal action, regardless of any promises providers have made.

Digital agencies should be versed in compliance and use an auditing and testing platform that provides the ability to monitor the progress of compliance adjustment, benchmark the site’s status by timestamping it on a consistent basis and demonstrate reasonable adjustment has been achieved.

Q: Can digital agencies certify a site’s compliance?
A: No. Demonstrating reasonable adjustment and compliance requires a platform against which the site’s compliance can be measured.

Q: Is a digital agency liable for a site’s lack of accessibility compliance?
A: Though it is the site owner’s responsibility for their site’s compliance, the agreement between the site owner and agency may create a liability for the agency.

I’ve Been Advised That My Site Is Ok

The only way to judge whether your site is compliant or not is to run a compliance audit.

Website Compliance Does Not Apply To My Business

Every website is require to meet WCAG 2.0 website accessibility compliance standards. If your website fails to meet these standards, you leave your business open to potential litigation.

Website Compliance Standards By Country

 

Country

 

Standard “Locally”

Legislation

Document / References

USA

 

Section 508 (WCAG2.0 AA)

Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act
Workforce Investment Act of 1998
Section 255 of the Comms. Act

On January 18, 2017, the Board published a the Board published a final rule that updates the Section 508 Standards along with accessibility guidelines for telecommunication products and equipment covered by section 255 of the Communications Act. The Section 508 Standards apply to electronic and information technology procured by the federal government, including computer hardware and software, websites, multimedia such as video, phone systems, and copiers. The Section 255 Guidelines address access to telecommunications products and services, and apply to manufacturers of telecommunication equipment. (Also considered as § 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.)
Incorporation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
About the Update of the Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines
Comparison Table of WCAG 2.0 to Existing 508 Standards

US Flying: Airlines

 

WCAG2.0

14 CFR Parts 382 and 399
49 CFR Part 27

12th December 2016 marked the final deadline for airlines to comply with the US DOT / Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Web sites must conform to the standard for accessibility contained in the widely accepted Web site Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and meet the Level AA Success Criteria
Accessibility within Airlines – Market Report
2017 Q3/Global Airlines benchmark

Canada

 

WCAG2.0 A / AA

Human Rights Act 1977

Ontario

 

AODA (WCAG 2.0 AA)

14(1) The Government of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly shall make their internet and intranet websites and web content conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, at Level AA, and shall do so in accordance with the schedule set out in this section and Accessibility rules for businesses and non-profits

Quebec

 

SGQRI 008 (based on WCAG 2.0)

Adaptation of the WCAG2.0 standard, also covers media, documents, etc. The main detail of the requirement can be found at Version Commentée du standard sur l’accessibilité d’un site web pages 86 onwards