Traditional consumer facing businesses like retail stores, restaurants, or service companies are not the only ones that need to pay attention to website accessibility. Despite serving a smaller, more specific population, nonprofits also need to pay attention to website accessibility.
Accessibility applies to a business’ online presence as well as their physical location, regardless of what they do. Therefore, it is wise for nonprofit organizations to familiarize themselves with web accessibility and take steps to protect themselves.
After working with hundreds of different organization websites, we have a few recommendations for nonprofits who are interested in pursuing a more accessible website.
Learn as much as you can
“The World Wide Web Consortium is a great resource to start learning about website accessibility,” says George Gabrelian, lead developer at TOH. The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, wrote the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which is the actual technical guide for achieving web accessibility. However, the guide is written for a technical audience and can be a little overwhelming for businesses that want to learn general concepts about web accessibility. Google “accessibility” and you’ll see a wealth of information about what it is, and what it can entail. You may also want to download Essential Accessibility’s easy to understand “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” PDF from here: https://learn.essentialaccessibility.com/wcag-2.1-checklist
“A great resource for comprehensive information and tools to check your site for issues is WebAIM (https://webaim.org). Their footer has links to some excellent tools such as the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool: https://wave.webaim.org,” says George. “And of course, as with anything growing in demand and popularity, there are a myriad of companies you can pay to evaluate your site and offer fixes.”
If your organization is thinking about hiring a company to do the evaluation or implement an accessibility plan, you’ll want to do your research first, as consultants can be very expensive. On the flip side, George warns against putting too much stock in software or plugins that claim to fix all your problems.
“No automated software can make your website 100% compliant,” George says. “Humans are needed for some fixes. And no matter what some WordPress plugins claim, they do NOT make your site completely compliant.”
Formulate a plan
“An organization should first understand what accessibility really means for their brand and then how to achieve it,” says George.
If you’ve read as much as you can about web accessibility and tested your site (or had it audited by a third party) to see where the fixes need to happen, you’re in a good position to make a basic plan of attack. Few organizations have the extra capital lying around to rebuild their website to full compliance, but that shouldn’t stop them from embracing an accessible mindset and making fixes where they can.
Eat the elephant one bite at a time
Once you have a good understanding of what needs to be done, based on hierarchy of importance, break up the task at hand into smaller, more manageable projects.
Start with simple fixes, such as making sure non-image content utilizes alternate text, utilizing high contrast color throughout the website, and organizing the website logically with headlines to help guide users through the content.
Website accessibility is not a design trend. It grows increasingly important as the world rapidly changes. Nonprofit organizations are unique in that, for many, the key to advancing their mission is to reach as many people as possible. By adopting a more inclusive outlook, nonprofits and organizations stand to benefit over the long term.
Have questions? We’re happy to help you find answers. Just drop us a line.