Accessibility and Cynthia Says

Cynthia Says is a website accessibility testing site. Type in your site’s URL, choose your desired level of WCAG compliance and get a report.

It is very easy to use. So easy that it has become a favourite party trick for consultants wanting to impress workshops or steering groups.

disabled parking sign

Accessibility – not just a box ticking exercise

An accessibility expert will be able to explain each fail and warning, describe how to fix it and how to avoid it happening again. In particular he or she will begin to break down the list into issues which have arisen during content management and issues which are inherent in the site’s design and technologies. And from there to begin to compile a list of questions for the site developer.

If these explanations are not provided, ask yourself what value the consultant has brought to the issue.

Be wary of any advice which throws the entire responsibility onto your site developer. Accessibility has to be prioritised during development, scoped, budgeted for and tested. Check your Project Plan for details of what was promised and what you signed off on. Follow the accessibility advice provided during CMS training.

Key points:

  • Cynthia Says can test your site’s accessibility
  • fails and warnings have to checked manually
  • responsibility for accessibility is shared between client and developer

The DDA is dead – long live the WAI

The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) was superseded by the Equality Act in 2010 yet it still appears as a checkpoint  in website development task lists.

The DDA and its regular amendments made it increasingly difficult for service providers and employers to shirk their responsibilities towards people who had differing access requirements. How that was to be done was described in a series of examples which illustrated a spirit of willingness to predict, respond and adapt to those requirements. Websites could be one of those adaptations. But the DDA said nothing about website accessibility standards. The Equality Act is similarly non-committal. So what guidance should be used?

Wheelchair to illustrate accessibility

Ensure your access policy complies with the most suitable guidelines

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has created Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and conformance to checkpoints listed in the WCAG is the best way to improve access to your website.

Integrated HTML and CSS can provide a solid foundation for meeting WCAG checkpoints. Off the shelf content management systems may meet these standards too. Careful choice of theme and plug-ins will avoid accessibility problems. Accessibility should be a key priority during the development of the site’s content, functionality and design.

Red E Web Design can guide you through the complex task of setting Accessibility targets and maintaining them with your CMS.

Key points:

  • The DDA and the Equality Act are not web accessibility guidelines.
  • The WAI WCAG checklists are a comprehensive description of the tasks required to produce and maintain an accessible site.