Accessibility statements or Site help pages?

It's been on my to-do list for ages to rework the accessibility statement on this site into something closer to what we use for most sites at my dayjob: a "Site help" or "About this site" page. I was recently reminded of this when reading Peter Krantz' Don't Provide an Accessibility Statement at Standards Schmandards.

The title may sound a bit over the top. After all the talk about accessibility statements over the last few years, are we supposed to stop providing them now? No, not really, but perhaps we should replace them with something better. In the article Peter refers to Evaluating the Usability of Online Accessibility Information, a study showing that users in general have a hard time finding and understanding accessibility statements. The study also indicates that users may be more inclined to use a page that does not specifically mention accessibility, since they may not understand the term "accessibility".

Furthermore, accessibility statements are often very technical and seem aimed more at other developers than at the people who would actually benefit from the information. Yep, I'm guilty.

The report suggests that developers consider adding widgets that replicate browser functionality, such as text resizing. I've never been a fan of widgets like that, probably because they are often found on sites that break just about every guideline there is, but claim to be accessible because users can click on a teeny-tiny "A" or "T" to make the text bigger (provided they have JavaScript enabled, of course).

I think a better idea is using the "Site help" page to explain to users how their browsers work. Not an easy thing, but you have to start somewhere.

Posted on October 31, 2006 in Quicklinks, Accessibility