Creating Accessible Web Experiences: It Starts with Cultural Change
Digital Quality Management (DQM) simplifies the process of creating an accessible, inclusive experience.
When it comes to delivering accessible web experiences, no two organizations are the same, which is why Crownpeak takes a custom, expert-led approach to every implementation.
Crownpeak’s Director of Solutions Engineering and Enablement, Kathryn Putt, has many years’ experience working with leading brands to deliver accessibility and inclusivity initiatives across complex, enterprise environments. We interviewed her to get her front-line perspectives on why Crownpeak’s personalized, end-to-end approach is so effective for enterprise environments, and how it can help them fast-track compliance.
What are some common misconceptions about digital accessibility?
Many organizations treat website accessibility and compliance as afterthoughts in the design and launch process. Companies often come to us at Crownpeak once their lack of accessibility and inclusivity has become problematic.
Whenever we start an engagement, the first objective is to clarify the scope of digital accessibility.
Many people are surprised that creating a digitally accessible experience isn’t just about tweaking a few pieces of code. It starts with changing an organization’s wider culture. It should be part of the UX design process, not something that is ‘fixed’ piecemeal every time someone complains.
There’s a tremendous amount of thought that goes into creating an accessible online experience. When you ingrain this into your culture, you put yourself at an advantage because everything you create is likely to comply with accessibility requirements.
Why is Crownpeak’s approach to accessibility different?
DQM is a website quality management solution specifically designed for complex enterprise environments. But it’s about much more than technology - it helps to embed a consistent approach to digital governance and informs the way in which accessibility actions are implemented within an organization.
What we do here at Crownpeak is help organizations change the culture of how they view digital quality and standards.
Our solution has three main components:
- Our DQM platform provides automated scanning and monitoring of accessibility and digital quality issues.
- Auto-Fix, is our AI-based tool which provides on-page automatic remediation and facilitates end-user customization of the digital experience
- Manual testing and expert consultation
What is the DQM platform?
The DQM platform provides automated scanning, identifying accessibility and other compliance violations and providing guided advice on how to remediate the issues. It focuses on the entire web presence, from websites to apps, or any way in which companies digitally engage with their audiences.
The platform helps companies support and embed their digital governance frameworks by enabling managers to formalize and assign responsibilities to individuals, who will then use the platform to manage, optimize and track accessibility, quality and compliance criteria that fall within their remit.
DQM covers a wide range of digital best practices, including: web accessibility, SEO, and regulatory compliance, but is also highly customizable to each company’s brand and business rules. It’s customizability is a major advantage of the platform and truly sets the solution apart from our out-the-box competitors.
For example, standards can be set up to cover everything from your messaging, corporate terminology, and branding rules - basically anything that impacts your digital presence can be monitored and measured.
What is Auto-Fix?
Used alongside DQM it can play an important role in delivering an adaptable and inclusive online experience. No website is perfect, especially in highly dynamic enterprise environments, and you can think of Auto-Fix as a safety net – protecting the experience and controlling risk, while giving your team time to identify and resolve issues at sauce.
A key component of Auto-Fix is its use of profiles. For example, if a user activates the Blind User profile on Auto-Fix, it will dynamically adapt the website to best support that user, and remediate images missing alt attribute text so they become accessible to users of screen readers. It scans each image and uses image recognition technology to generate its own alt text. If there is text in the image, Auto-Fix will be able to identify the text as well.
Auto-Fix has been developed with different disabilities in mind, including individuals who experience seizures, ADHD, cognitive disabilities, and disabilities related to hearing and/or vision. Each of these things can affect how content is created and displayed on the website and Auto-Fix allows users to adapt the website to their needs - while your team works on fixing the underlying issues.
We’ve found that the many detailed profiles and options displayed in the Auto-Fix tool are a great way to help companies understand different disabilities, and to start thinking and working in the right direction.
Can Auto-Fix be used as a standalone solution?
This a question that we get asked a lot! And the short answer is no. Auto-Fix provides a powerful way to boost the inclusivity of your site and remove friction-points for your users, but it is not a short-cut to accessibility. Adding Auto-Fix alone to a website doesn’t necessarily make a company’s website compliant according to WCAG guidelines; in fact, no technology does. This is because websites must also undergo a manual audit in order to be fully WCAG-compliant. So, any scanning technology, including DQM, only scans a portion of the WCAG guidelines (about 30%) that can be automatically verified. The remaining 70% or so will need to be reviewed and tested manually.
Also worth mentioning is that without fixing the root-cause of accessibility issues, website owners won’t get the SEO benefits that come with having an accessible website. Adopting a quick-fix approach won’t support cultural change, nor will it contribute to upskilling your workforce or understanding what an accessible website experience looks like.
Much more can be achieved when problems are addressed holistically, with a full commitment to and understanding of the issues.
The importance of human-powered testing and remediation
To become fully WCAG-compliant, an accessibility review and certification process is usually performed by a third-party organization. Here Crownpeak’s solution addresses a gap that exists in many technology-only providers – access to human-powered testing and remediation.
In addition to end-user testing, our consultants can work to nurture a culture of accessibility and assist with accessibility and planning.
Why Crownpeak provides the fastest, most sustainable path to compliance
Crownpeak’s unique pairing of technology and human-powered remediation is geared to the demands of complex, enterprise environments. It combines both the speed, scalability and efficiency advantages of our automated scanning and remediation technology with the deep subject-matter expertise necessary to embed a long-term, sustainable approach.
Our integrated model is proven to help organizations foster inclusivity, reach their goals faster and realise the value of their investment while meeting critical compliance objectives.