How to contact organisations about website accessibility

Tuesday, 3 January 2012 12:59pm

Many organisations fail to consider how people with a disability interact with their websites. As this is a large number of potential customers and audience members, website owners often work towards improving web accessibility. If you encounter a site that has accessibility issues you can contact the website owners and let them know how they can improve their sites.

Top 5 tips for contacting organisations about website accessibility

People with disabilities often find it frustrating when inaccessible websites prevent them from finding information or completing a task.  If you find an accessibility issue on a website, it may be worth contacting the website owner to see if the problem can be resolved. 

Consider the following tips when going through this process:

1.      Make sure that the issue is a website accessibility issue

Difficulties in using the Internet are not limited to web accessibility. Before contacting an organisation about website accessibility, make sure that the problem is not isolated to your particular assistive technology product or device. If possible, try accessing the website through different means or discuss the issue with others who use similar assistive technologies in order to isolate the issue.

2.      Identify the best way to make contact

While people often contact the Webmaster using the ‘webmaster@organisationname’ email address, these addresses are often not monitored. Before lodging the issue, investigate who may be best suited to address the website accessibility issue so that you know there is a physical person responsible for providing you with a response.

3.      Be specific: assume little accessibility knowledge and carefully outline the issue 

Organisations that have website accessibility issues are often not aware of how people with disabilities use the Internet so some additional information may be needed. Consider the following questions when explaining the problem:

  • How can I best describe to the organisation the way in which I access their website?
  • Where is the problem?
  • What is the problem?
  • Where can the organisation find out more information?

4.      Follow up

Once your accessibility concern has been lodged, keep in regular contact with the person addressing your concern.  Incorporating accessibility changes can be a slow process, so be patient but vigilant.

5.      Take it higher

If all else fails, consider contacting the Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The AHRC is responsible for complaints relating to inaccessible websites. If all other avenues have been exhausted, they may be able to help.

As recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), it is important to provide both positive and critical feedback on an organisation’s website. Additional information can be found in the W3C’s Contacting Organizations about Inaccessible Websites.

 

Your experience of contacting organisations is likely to be of interest to other people so feel free to connect with the Media Access Australia community on Twitter (@mediaaccessaus) and Facebook (facebook.com/mediaaccessaustralia).


Top of page