Web Accessibility Certification
Web Accessibility Certification
Accessibility Certification and Letters of Conformance
An accessibility certification, or Letter of Conformance, is a dated document that outlines the level of compliance with WCAG 2.1 and Section 508 guidelines. In order to make a conformance claim, there shall be no violations to WCAG 2.1 success criteria, put in place by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C is an international community that works collaboratively with professionals from many companies and institutions to establish web standards.
There are different types of accessibility certifications, but at AKEA Web Solutions, our primary focus is on the issuance of a Letter of Conformance. While a conformance letter may fall under the certificate category, it is not necessarily a “certificate”, but rather an endorsement that your digital environment has been audited, with verification that compliance issues have been addressed. Out of all of the certification options, a Letter of Conformance is the most thorough type of claim, which is why AKEA Web Solutions only issues this form of accessibility certification.
The W3C provides guidelines in order to make claims of conformance; however, with other forms of accessibility certifications or such as a statement of certification, there is no official “certifying body” that endorses compliance. Because of this, a statement cannot be officially verified. As a result, compliance certificate is not necessarily enough for an organization to advertise compliance, due to the lack of oversight. Without a certifying body, a compliance certificate has no true value, which is why at AKEA Web Solutions, our chief interest is in the documentation of the true effort, rigorous analysis and remediation activities that took place to remove barriers from your digital environment.
Criteria for Accessibility Conformance
AKEA Web Solutions follows the recommended methodology set in place by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to evaluate accessibility conformance. This methodology consists of five steps that provide a thorough examination of all digital services.
A 5-Step Methodology
Why Have a Letter of Conformance?
By having a Letter of Conformance, you demonstrate your commitment to providing an equal opportunity for users with disabilities. By taking proactive web accessibility measures, users will have a pleasant overall experience visiting your website and have the ability to access and purchase your products and/or services, increasing customer loyalty and revenue potential.
Web accessibility compliance is also beneficial because it provides greater opportunities to a large market. The disabled community makes up nearly a quarter of our population in the United States. About 56.7 million people had a disability in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many users with disabilities rely on the internet to connect with friends, gain an education and order goods. By providing equal access, those individuals have the ability to live independent lives, thanks to the flexibility and ease of the internet.
In addition to the benefits of improving usability to all users, you will also be minimizing your legal risk. A Letter of Conformance reduces exposure to potential legal complaints, such as a letter of complaint or lawsuit. Due to the rapid increase of digital marketing use, a significant number of web accessibility lawsuits are being filed in federal court. According to an analysis conducted by an international legal firm Seyfarth Shaw, 814 lawsuits pertaining to web accessibility violations were filed in 2017. In contrast, the first six months of 2018 saw at least 1053 web accessibility lawsuits filed. At this rate, we expect that the number of web accessibility lawsuits filed in federal court will only continue to rise.
For these reasons, a Letter of Conformance is a beneficial component; one that can protect your organization’s reputation and assets in a variety of ways.
Choose the Right Partner
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is very specific in defining how organizations can set about claiming their website’s conformance to WCAG 2.1 standards. Establishing a partnership with the correct web accessibility firm is crucial in order to verify that all boxes are properly checked when issuing conformance claims.
AKEA Web Solutions always has our clients’ best interest in mind, with no desire to sell unnecessary services that have no worth, such as certificates. That is why we recommend Letters of Conformance.
Our goal is to provide thorough services in ways that directly benefit our clients. If your organization has not yet met conformance criteria and would like to take the appropriate steps to achieving a Letter of Conformance, contact us today to learn more.