Local government administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of each department. The public information officer serves as the primary spokesperson and is responsible for the city's image. Finally, the IT manager creates, maintains and enforces standards for implementing technical solutions. But who is responsible for web accessibility? If you think it's just your IT department, then you're wrong.
Making Online Services Easily Accessible
You shouldn't scramble to make your website accessible simply because it's the law. Hopefully, you're doing so, or planning to do so, because it's the right thing to do.
If there wasn't a law that requires ramps to be built for people who are physically disabled to enter buildings, then would you? Your website is not any different. There is no law that requires you to allow residents to pay for their parking tickets online, but your agency provides that service because it's easier, faster and more efficient for your residents.
Determining Who's Responsible for Web Accessibility
Maybe your IT department was a big part of the development of your website, but they're not the only ones who are responsible for ensuring your site's content is accessible. In fact, anyone who contributes content to your site is responsible.
With so many different departments - from parks and recreation to finance, and from communications to information technology - it can be difficult to make sure every member of your staff adheres to the same accessibility guidelines. It's important to create guidelines for how to write web content, publish images, and provide meeting agendas and minutes.
Creating Internal Guidelines
The launch of your website is just the beginning. While it's shiny, new and possibly as compliant as it can be, it (including your agency) is guaranteed to change over time.
There's a common misconception that compliance with all of the latest standards – including WCAG standards, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act – is possible by simply implementing "accessible technology". In actuality, it takes more than just the right tools. In order to maintain compliance, all web content editors need to be familiar with these local, state and federal guidelines and continually monitor and refine their website content.
So, how you can you get started? Begin by educating all of your staff members about the importance of accessibility. Then, develop guildelines on how to write accessible content that includes:
- Header sequences to provide structure
- Bullets to make it easier to scan the webpage
- Alternative text (alt tag) to convey textual context for images
Vision's Accessibility Assessment
We're committed to helping local governments understand the importance of web accessibility and how they can be compliant with all of the standards. That's why, we're offering a free accessibility assessment that'll allow us to comb through a few of your webpages and provide tips and suggestions to help ensure your website is in compliance.