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Website Accessibility Tools
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WEB ACCESSIBILITY:  The Best Tools to Improve Your Website
Director of Accounts
July 25 2023

It’s been eight months since my original post on what you need to know about making websites accessible. If you haven’t checked that out, I encourage you to do so. For the TL;DR members of the audience, here’s a quick recap:

Why focus on website accessibility?

Eight months ago, I made the choice to take a deep dive on web accessibility, and during my exploration of what accessibility truly means for digital spaces, I found myself returning to the core reason behind my initial inquiry: Everything we do at Culture Foundry, is about the “why,” as in “Why do we do this?”  Or “Why is this necessary?” Whether we’re addressing client issues, designing solutions, selecting technology, improving internal systems, or improving our company as a whole, we start by asking and answering the question, “Why?”

Interestingly enough, as I tried to shortcut straight to the “solutions” part of the accessibility answer, I was drawn back to understanding the fundamentals of why accessibility matters in the first place. That’s what my first post was about, and nine months later, I’m here with an update on what we’ve learned.

Having studied why web accessibility is important, I looked for solutions that aligned with my new understanding. I didn’t want a Band-Aid-type fix, and I didn’t want an automated solution that didn’t include a humanistic approach.

I spoke to many vendors, asked questions, attended webinars, sat through software demos, explored solutions, and finally found a product provider that fit our tactical needs and strategic objectives. 

Finding a website accessibility tool that works

We signed an agreement with Monsido in February 2023, and having used the system for a few months, I’m happy to report that we love it, our clients have benefited from it, and it’s become a successful addition to (but not the conclusion of) Culture Foundry’s accessibility journey, as well as my own. 

Before I tell you what I love about Monsido, let me point out what I didn’t like about its competition:

  • The “promise” of 100-percent compliance. RED FLAG. Since current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Justice are still fairly loose, run from anyone who guarantees anything in this gray area. They are capitalizing on the current ambiguity. Not being transparent upfront about the lack of concrete guidance should be a warning sign to you.
  • Widget-based solutions. They appear to be a drop of rain in a drought. Simplicity with the promise of protection is a relief to so many. However, what seems too good to be true, typically is. These widgets often become the target of litigation. NOTE: The 2023 Midyear Report on Digital Accessibility Lawsuits from UsableNet (another software company that provides digital accessibility news and thought leadership pieces) indicates that lawsuits against websites with widgets have DOUBLED. Buyers beware!
  • Gatekeeping information. While I understand and respect the desire to keep proprietary software behind a payment wall, prospective clients benefit from software providers who are willing to share basic information about web accessibility–including benchmarks, best practices, and other learnings they’ve amassed through their own research and customer case studies–at no cost to interested parties. Making that knowledge available to everyone that can benefit from it makes good business sense–even if sharing it doesn’t pay off in immediate sales leads. (For example, this is where the aforementioned UsableNet has been a great resource, offering free webinars, reports that are shareable and data that is infinitely helpful.)
  • Fully automated systems. We need human engagement and investment with web accessibility. We need people to see color contrasts, tab through content, and even have users with vision impairment test our sites. This impacts humans so computers can’t do it independently. 

In contrast to the examples above, here’s what Monsido offers us:

  • Patience. I initially reached out to Monsido in April 2022, and due to a longer-than-anticipated search process, signed a contract with them in February 2023. Did Monsido follow up with us? Yes. Did they nag us while I was deep in my research and taking time to evaluate options? No. Vendors take note: Constantly “touching base” with potential clients can quickly become a nuisance to those evaluating options. Patiently waiting through the decision-making process matters to those of us making the decisions.
  • Free scan of up to 20 pages. As a Monsido client, we can provide complimentary, sample accessibility scans to Culture Foundry clients, giving them a snapshot of their sites’ current accessibility score. This sample audit highlights areas for improvement and helps us demonstrate concrete ways we can make their sites more accessible.
  • A blended approach. Our Monsido dashboard displays accessibility errors in three tiers. As I like to categorize them: “mission critical violations” (i.e., fix immediately), “warnings” (i.e., put it on a roadmap), and “needs manual review” (i.e., human review is needed to gauge the seriousness of an issue identified, if there’s an issue at all). This allows us to triage clear violations, while our team reviews reported violations that may be debatable. Triaging fixes in this way also gives clients with limited budgets the ability to address the biggest problems first.
  • A project manager dashboard (aka, non-technical display) and a HTML dashboard for website developers to quickly find and fix code errors.
  • Other features that allow us to find outdated content that would benefit from page redirects, typos, broken images, etc., all things that improve our sites beyond addressing accessibility concerns.
  • Reporting tools that allow our clients (enrolled in our accessibility program) to have an auditable trace of their efforts, in the event of litigation.
  • Monsido color contrast checker. Have you ever looked at two colors and wondered if they had a high enough contrast to be considered accessible? Wonder no more, and definitely bookmark this tool to avoid headaches.
  • Chrome extension. This feature allows users a real-time way to mimic vision deficiencies and see the way existing site code and design impact accessibility. (See example below.)
An example of the dropdown menu visible in Monsido's Google Chrome Extension tool.
An example of the dropdown menu displaying options for different types of visual impairment, as seen through Monsido’s Google Chrome Extension tool.

Making our clients websites more accessible

As I’ve mentioned, there is no perfect compliance when it comes to accessibility. However, we’ve had some big wins on behalf of our clients in the last few months. For example,

  • A 17- to 24-percent increase in site accessibility for clients working with us on accessibility.
  • A better agency-wide understanding about the nature of accessibility, its impact, and how we can design new sites and/or update sites with that mindset, as well as explore remedial improvements for older sites we support.

We don’t have all the answers and won’t until more concrete federal guidelines are available. However, we feel our months-long journey and ongoing learning with Monsido’s tools are helping us better advise and serve our clients as they tackle this critical issue. 

Want to make your website more accessible?

If you’re interested in improving your website’s accessibility, we’d love the chance to help you.  Complete the form below, and a member of our crew will be in touch ASAP!

NOTE: If you are seeking legal guidance on website accessibility, including current ADA and WCAG-related guidelines, or have questions about potential liability in these matters, please consult with an attorney.

Culture Foundry is a digital experience agency that helps our clients elevate their impact with beautiful technology. We provide the expertise and insight at every layer that makes a great digital experience for websites and applications possible. If you're committed to elevating your digital experience, contact us and we'd be happy to schedule a chat to see if we're a fit.

(Psst! We also happen to be a great place to work.)

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