Before we answer that question what does a web accessibility consultant do? It is important to understand just how many people suffer from disabilities that deprive them of using websites not designed with accessibility in mind using the WCAG 2.1 standards. In the United States, 26% of the population has some type of disability. It is much more concerning in the UK because some 20% of the British public has some sort of disability that prevents them from using a website that is not designed according to ADA Web accessibility standards.
To answer the abovementioned question, a web accessibility consultant works with their clients to help them improve their websites that pose accessibility issues for people with disabilities.
One of their primary responsibility is to identify accessibility issues and suggest potential solutions in helping the client implement technical features that permit people with disabilities to utilize a website quickly and effectively. In addition to this, they also help test websites to ensure that they meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). For educational, governmental, and employment-related sites, they also ensure that these sites meet requirements set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Although ADA does not have any direct legal requirements for websites and digital resources, the ultimate goal of a web accessibility consultant in following the ADA compliant website guidelines is to avoid lawsuits brought by users having some sort of disability. Individuals with impairments must be accommodated, so they feel that they are not excluded. An ADA consultant ensures that every reasonable effort is made to remove these users’ barriers when using your online services.
How do they test the websites?
Under federal law, sections 504 and 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act require educational, federal, and state organizations to ensure that their websites are accessible by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommendations.
For guaranteeing web accessibility, administrators and those who produce and manage content should be familiar with the ADA website compliance checklist standards and underlying principles. Website accessibility requirements should be stated SRSS at the beginning of every website project and revisited for compliance at various junctures in website development. The content marketing and creation strategy should consistently be in line with accessibility recommendations of WCAG from the beginning to the end. Both programmers and content creators should be trained in resources related to WCAG accessibility standards. On each step from creation to modification and development of the website, these basic principles are maintained.
As the website gets developed and more content is added, it should be audited periodically, and permanent rules should be instituted according to which content is added or edited. In addition to periodic audits, automated functions should be considered for regular testing of the digital content of every completed website.
When working on textual content, complex images, graphs, and illustrations should be used in a consistent format and should follow the WCAG recommendations. It should also apply to audio and video, which should be created according to accessibility standards.
What do Web Accessibility Consultants Check For?
For various kinds of impairments, the Web Accessibility Consultants check for how it may affect the user with specific impairment. For example:
For Visually Impaired Users:
- Foreground & background contrast in images are sufficient for visually impaired users to distinguished the images.
- Alternative text for images, graphics, and controls is instituted, and sufficient.
- Moving, blinking, or flickering content is not included
- Text zooming is functional and sufficient
For Users With Motor Impairments:
- Screen & text readers operate properly
- Full keyboard navigation is available on all screens
- Skip-to-main-content” and other navigational aids are functional and easily accessible.
- Large target areas for mouse pointers are positioned correctly
For Hearing Impaired Users:
- Closed text transcripts are available, and video captioning & subtitling are working.
- Text chat support is available and working.
- Volume controls for media players allow for higher volumes
- Blocking of background audio autoplay is instituted
For Cognitively Impaired Users:
- Automated reader adjustments are instituted
- Adapted headings, as well as animations & page layouts, can be accessed
- Audio & visual orientation cues are working
- Increased time limits for user response & form completion are instituted and working.
In conclusion, a Web Accessibility Consultant is well worth the investment not only because of the insights and expertise they bring to the job, but some of them are themselves impaired in one of the above areas and have first-hand experience in being denied access. The automated and electronic tools they use also have an excellent track record in identifying the issues thoroughly and detecting shortfalls in areas where an average person doing web development or content creation may not be familiar. All-in-all, a Web Accessibility consultant is a wise investment in preventing legal and reputation issues with websites.