Policy and Guidelines
Unless you are a policy geek this part is pretty dry, so I will tell you a little story to liven it up a bit. As part of learning about accessibility and the challenges that someone with a disability faces when using the Internet, I was teaching myself how to use a screen reader (VoiceOver on Mac). One day I was using my laptop in the office with a cover over the screen and earphones in so that I wouldn’t bother everyone with all of the screen reader’s chatter. A co-worker stopped by and asked what I was doing. After I explained she exclaimed loudly, “Why would we want to make our website useable by blind people?!” Like it was the most ridiculous idea she’d ever heard. Like people who are blind or have low vision have no use for financial websites or the Internet. So, I found myself explaining that accessibility not only benefits people who are blind but it also helps improve the experience for everyone by having a website that conforms to web standards and renders better in web browsers. How it helps the elderly and others who may struggle with using a mouse. How it helps people with low vision and cognitive disorders. I found myself getting very passionate and retorted, “Why wound’t we want to make our services available to the widest audience possible? It’s just good business!” And it is!
While current global government laws pertain mainly to government websites and procurement, the trend is for non-government sites to be targets of formal complaints by people with disabilities who aren’t able to use them.
The most common guidelines for companies to follow who are neither government agencies nor are providing services to a government is to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA requirements. If you do not have an accessibility expert on staff then it’s best to hire someone who is certified in web accessibility.