Accessibility is on everyone’s mind lately — we’ve fielded a lot of questions recently from our credit union clients about website accessibility and ADA compliance. It’s a big and technical topic, but where do you start getting a handle on it?
Check your Attitude
Accessibility is not a “yes” or “no” question, a switch you flip, or a checkbox you tick off on a form. It’s a process and a set of priorities, and it’s evaluated in many different ways. The most important thing to remember is that a more accessible website is better for everyone, not just people with disabilities. It’s sort of like automatic doors, ramps, or accessible bathroom stalls — they’re actually more usable for everyone, not just people in wheelchairs. Much of the process of making a website more accessible means making your site more understandable to the software or machines people might be using to help them navigate the web. Guess what? A better organized, more meaningful site works better for every user — and it’s more understandable to search engines.
Relax. You might be most of the way there already.
If you have an up to date, mobile-friendly, responsive site with a modern Content Management System, chances are your website has excellent accessibility. You might need a few tweaks here and there, but overall you should be in good shape. In a nutshell, the same technology and design principles that make your site work on devices with different capabilities also make it work better for people with different capabilities.
But if you’re not…
If your site is outdated, if you can’t maintain it easily, or if it doesn’t work on every device, you very likely have some serious accessibility problems. On the plus side, accessibility adds another very good reason to make upgrading your website a top priority.
First Take a Hard Look at Online Banking
Quite frankly, too many online banking systems suffer from serious accessibility issues that can actually prevent some members from managing their finances and doing business online. This is potentially a far more serious problem for the members and for the CU than anything on the website, so it might need to become a priority.
Get Professional Help
I haven’t gone into a lot of technical detail in this article, but understanding and evaluating accessibility is inevitably a technical topic that requires experience and judgment. Make sure you’re working with web developers familiar with the concepts of accessibility — accessibility should already be part of your plan to evaluate, improve, and maintain all aspects of your site.