GSA Government-wide Section 508 Accessibility Program

Improving Website Accessibility

Frequently Observed Accessibility Issues on Federal Websites

A view on Federal Websites Accessibility

GSA has conducted a high-level scan across a sample of 45 major public-facing federal websites to provide a baseline assessment of accessibility issues. Examine the most common issues observed and learn how to fix them!.

How To Make Your Website More Accessible

Provide Web Accessibility Awareness and Training

It is essential that people involved in a website are aware of the importance of accessibility, from management and funding through design, development and maintenance. In addition, certain roles must possess adequate knowledge, skills, and tools to produce and maintain an accessible website. Everyone should be aware of the federal Standard for website accessibility. The proposed new standard for Section 508 is expected to require conformance to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. Learn more about WCAG 2.0 website accessibility conformance.

Conduct Website Testing and Remediation

  1. Use automated website accessibility scanning tools
  2. Automated website testing tools can ‘crawl’ through the pages of a website and evaluate certain aspects of accessibility. These tools can be used to provide some indication of the likelihood that the website could pose accessibility problems for users. Automated scanning provides an important first-pass 'screening' that can identify if a website is not accessible or does not comply with accessibility standards by testing for the absence of valid required elements and/or attributes. Automated scanning cannot determine if a website is accessible or conformant with accessibility standards. Many accessibility checks require human judgment and must be evaluated manually using different techniques.
  3. Conduct manual accessibility tests
  4. Manual testing requires a tester to play the role of an end user and use most or all features of the application to help ensure accessibility. The tester must be expert in web accessibility and proficient in the use of input device alternatives and other assistive technologies. It is good practice to include persons with disabilities as testers for manual testing.

Build Accessibility into New Website Development and Major Redesign Efforts

  1. Plan for accessibility up front
  2. Strategic planning to build accessibility into a website development or redesign project is a key first step. A strategic plan for web accessibility covers many areas beyond actual content development and visual design. A comprehensive plan includes accessibility considerations for required training, tool selection, quality assurance testing. It is important to start early in order to reduce the risk of making early decisions that become expensive to change or remediate later. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has published guidance in the document Strategic Planning for Web Accessibility.
  3. Integrate accessibility throughout the development lifecycle
  4. Accessibility is best approached as an integral and ongoing activity. Integrate accessibility throughout the project from early planning to final deployment.
  5. Incorporate both automated and manual accessibility assurance
  6. Use a combination of automated scanning and manual testing as an integral part of your overall quality assurance process.

Tools, Guidance, and Resources

The CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice endorses certain accessibility "Best Practice". As best practice the CIO council discusses:

Other Resources to Help Build Accessible Web Pages:

Other Resources to Help Test and Repair Web Pages:

Section 508 blog

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