Our approach, centred on best practice, is to work with development teams, including content authors, to embed accessibility knowledge and principles into the web development lifecycle, using key milestones to test and report on findings.
Irrespective of your development methodology, Media Access Australia can easily dovetail accessibility testing into your project. Even if your developing in an agile environment, the key phases outlined below can easily be adapted to your sprint schedule.
If you do not intend to redevelop your sites or apps, it is highly recommended you conduct a technical audit of them to understand the degree to which your digital accessibility is optimised. There are numerous benefits to an audit:
- It provides a detailed account and true understanding of all web accessibility issues on the pages audited that can be used as a remediation blueprint for all pages of the website
- It provides evidence to stakeholders such as the executive and legal counsel regarding the site’s accessibility status. This allows them to understand the organisation’s exposure to risks of a legal nature since compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG2.0) to a level of AA compliance is required by law under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
- Provides the Australian Human Rights Commission evidence of your organisation’s commitment to repairing accessibility issues and works in your favour should any complaints be made
Another part of the Discovery Phase is to identify the location and quantity of PDF documents. At present this document type is not considered an accessible format and organisations are required to provide accessible alternatives such as html. These documents can repaired by our Accessible Document Service and go through full accessibility checks so you can be confident people with disabilities can access the information.
Media Access Australia can assist with site crawls that identify the location of PDFs. We can provide remediation services to make these documents accessible and training on how to create accessible content in a variety of formats.
If you intend to develop a website from the ground up, Media Access Australia can help develop website specifications and provide preliminary advice on how your development team can avoid simple accessibility errors from the outset. Apart from helping guide the project timeline to allow for accessibility milestones, we can provide your project team with information and guidance on how to approach the design and development process with accessibility principles embedded.
Again, education and training can be pivotal at this stage and we can tailor training and information to suit the needs, experience and environment of your development. Some examples include:
- The creation of checklists for specific teams of people such as developers and designers
- Team workshops
- Staff information sessions
- Staff fact sheets
- Executive briefing sessions
3. Wireframes and Design
This includes full accessibility assessment of the design and layout of webpages against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). The assessment will include a comprehensive critique and report based on the three levels of accessibility (A, AA, AAA).
Wireframes typically provide a blueprint for layout and navigation which can be assessed for accessibility. An accessibility check at this stage can ensure that layout, navigation and any technology or functionality assumptions are congruent with accessibility compliance such as media players and carousels.
Designs which are often created separately (and by different teams or suppliers) for example, can be checked for colour contrast and images as well as application of technology or specific web elements such as social media and information widgets.
Depending on the development methodology employed, some web teams have a distinction between front-end design—a consolidation of the wireframes and the design—and the development or configuration of the content management system. Media Access Australia can review a nominated selection of front-end designs or templates allowing us to review the application of styles and review the functionality (technology assessment) of pages before they go into development.
Development can be a challenging and demanding stage. Your development team will operate more effectively knowing they are able to rely on external accessibility expertise to help inform their programming decisions. Media Access Australia can work to your development methodology to provide accessibility advice at crucial stages of development.
We test the complete functional website prior to go-live. This is often the first opportunity for key processes to be tested end to end in a ‘real time’ environment. In order for websites to be accessible we also test the accessibility of processes such as feedback or contact forms, searching, purchasing and payment gateways and other explicit processes.
- User Testing: we offer User Testing using people with disabilities experienced in a wide range of assistive technologies, as well as some disabilities that do not require special assistive technology. We can work with your testing team to customise this phase by developing specific use case scenarios.
- Mobile and App Testing: we also offer testing with specific devices and apply mobile and app best practice principles over and above WCAG 2.0.
A website is only as accessible as the quality of content powering it. Media Access Australia provides training, information and advice in creating accessible content. We can conduct training on-site, focusing on the fundamentals of accessible content in Word and other MS Office programs, PDF, InDesign and your CMS. We also have specialist staff skilled in the requirements of producing accessible video content.
Digital marketing forms an essential part of any marketing strategy, so marketing activities and deliverables should be included in the accessibility evaluation process. Digital marketing campaigns, microsites, social media and electronic newsletters can all, and should, be evaluated for their accessibility. Media Access Australia can ensure your marketing and promotion efforts maximise their engagement by ensuring the online digital experiences you promote to your customers are also accessible.
9. Policy, Procedures and Consulting
Your organisation would ideally formalise its commitment to digital accessibility through the documentation and adoption of policies such as a Disability Action Plan, an Accessibility Statement and a policy for the procurement of products and services that comply with Australian law as it applies to disability and equality.
These documents help enable your managers to embed accessibility principles into the daily work practices of their team members and assist your Human Resources Department to include these work practices as part of the performance management system.
Media Access Australia is also able to provide content for eLearning systems for staff induction processes.
10. Professional Education
As well as providing the education opportunities already mentioned in the planning and content stages, Media Access Australia runs Australia’s only university-accredited Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility for web professionals.