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Web Accessibility - Code or Plugin?

January 14 ,2018
Web Accessibility - Code or Plugin? Advantages and Disadvantages.
When a website owner wants to make the site accessible, he has to decide whether to make the site accessible in the source code or to use an external accessibility plugin. The main answer lies in the question: Who will carry out the accessibility process? Accessibility is not a small matter. Many people have read the standard once and call themselves accessibility webmasters. It is like a person who will paint his house or install himself a pergola in his yard and call himself a contractor.
Before choosing a professional for a comprehensive renovation of our home, we check what the commitment includes in the price proposal, go to see sample projects, ask for opinions from previous customers, make sure that the contractor is registered, demand responsibility for the work, etc.
When we want to make our site accessible, we must act in a similar way - accessibility is a profession for all intents and purposes. There is no such thing as "almost" accessible or "close to" accessible.

There is: Accessible or NOT Accessible, and when accessing a website, make sure that the entire site is accessible according to the following criteria:

  • Infrastructure accessibility - at the programming level of the site or application.
  • Accessibility of content on the site - articles and pictures.
  • Access documents (such as Word, PDF, videos, and files that can be opened through the site or application).
  • Accessibility Statement

Make sure that all of these things are fully accessible, and when you choose a provider to do the accessibility work, regardless of whether you use the site code or a plugin, you must ensure:

  • Contractual commitment to meet standard 5568 at the AA level.
  • Request examples of sites that have been previously accessed by him and approved by an access authority (and not be afraid to ask for the certificate).
  • Receive recommendations from previous customers.

A pig in a poke
The field of accessibility increased to a great extent in recent years, and with it many accessibility components have been developed, which are intended to assist in the process of accessibility of the site. It is recommended to beware of these free components - none of them fully meets WCAG 2.1 AA and US Section 508 Accessibility Program, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) nor European Union Law EU 301549. Moreover, even components that are not free, the simple installation of the plugin is not enough in itself to make the site fully accessible by the standards.

All the components, even the most known, are semi-automatic systems. In other words, although the accessibility component is installed, several adjustments must be made to the site using the plugin. Full adjustment to comply with the standards involves many working hours. Promises that a component can be installed on the site and that it can make it fully accessible are a mere misrepresentation, in other words, a pig in a poke, you have been warned.

Not only these free components are useless, they can also cause damage, as they extract information from the site, such as: user details, statistics, data, etc. Therefore, before installing the plugin, it is recommended to check carefully what type of plugin you are talking about.

In the process of accessibility in the code usually you take an accessibility consultant who performs an accessibility report to the site, and then the report is sent to the developer of the site that is supposed to implement the amendments to the site code.
Once the repairs are carried out a repeated check and report are made until it is approved by the same accessibility consultant, and at the end of the process the site will be accessible for the same period of time.

But if the site changes, it adds content, components are updated or new templates are added, the level of accessibility can be reduced, so it is recommended to perform tests once a year and also to train the content people who work on the site and accessibility with courses to enter content properly.

Keep your website more accessible over time
There are a few accessibility plugins that monitor accessibility problems, and are updated all the time and therefore keep the site more accessible. Therefore, the larger the site, the more complex and dynamic, it is recommended to use good quality accessibility plugins in order to keep the site more accessible over time.

It`s important to note that accessibility plugins and code accessibility do not necessarily slap each other. When building a new website, it is recommended to implement as much accessibility as possible in the process of building the site, and towards the end of the process, check whether an accessibility plugin should be implemented to improve accessibility and / or to end the accessibility that was not implemented in the code. There is a standard that needs to be met, and you have to do 100% or at least strive for it. You can do this 80% in the code and 20% in the plugin, and you can make the opposite: 80% in the plugin and 20% in the code.

Any other variation is also valid, as long as there is full accessibility and that will also allow people with disabilities to surf properly on the site and that the site owner will not be exposed to lawsuits.
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