Getting Started with Accessibility
Are You New to the World of Accessibility?
Welcome to what is known on the web as part of the #A11y movement. Laws, conformance standards, responsibilities and societal duty all are part of the continually evolving movement to make digital information accessible for persons of all abilities. Much like structures must be designed to be accessible for persons with a variety of disabilities, digital content must be accessible to everyone, too.
This toolkit will help you navigate some of the complexities of digital accessibility by providing information, resources and mandates regarding the world of digital content.
Outside of this toolkit, there are some great external resources to start your learning journey in accessibility on the web:
- The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) site on Introduction to Web Accessibility and WAI’s Free Digital Accessibility Foundations Online Course
- California State University Northridge: Universal Design Center on Web Accessibility
- Utah State University: Web Accessibility In Mind (WebAIM)
The Quicklinks and FAQ page contains a quick list of additional resources.
How People with Disabilities Navigate the Web
Assistive Technology (AT) provides a variety of ways for people with disabilities to navigate the web. However, websites must also be designed to be accessible for certain disabilities that do not require AT. Here are some examples how AT helps users navigate the web:
- For individuals who are blind, AT screen readers are used to navigate a website by reading to the user what is on the screen, while users with other visual impairments benefit from large fonts and high contrast.
- For individuals with limited dexterity, AT like speech recognition software and other pieces of hardware allow a user to use their voice or other opportunities to navigate the webpage.
- For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, closed captioning of videos allows them to read information that would otherwise be inaccessible.
For more detailed descriptions of how users with color blindness, repetitive stress injuries, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyslexia and short-term memory loss use the web, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has great Stories of Web Users and Web Accessibility Perspective Videos.
Best Practices for Various Stakeholders
Content Creators / Designers
Ensure digital content and media you create that is public facing is accessible. The How to Create Accessible Content page of this toolkit.
Developers must ensure core compliance with WCAG. Build framework to ensure keyboard control and proper tab order. Work with Content Creators if headings or Alt Text are missing in developed content. The Checklists and Requirements section of this toolkit will give you resources to implement digital accessibility.
The US Digital Service: Design System Component page has guidance for including accessible components for web apps. Accessible Components posted in the State of California Design System are also available. These lists of components are created with performance and accessibility in mind.
For Android, Google has developed an accessible design backbone, Material Design.
State Agency, Department, Management and Directors:
Before July 1, 2019 and every two years thereafter, each Director must post on their website a signed California Department of Technology (CDT) Website Accessibility Certification form or their own form confirming that the agency’s internet web site complies with California Government Code Section 7405 and California Government Code Section 11135, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, or a subsequent version, published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium at minimum Level AA success criteria. WCAG 2.1 was published in June 2018 and WCAG 2.2 could be published in late 2022.
The Director should also provide leadership and support for digital accessibility compliance within the organization as a whole.
Managers and supervisors should encourage accessibility as a culture in their department. Provide and encourage training opportunities in accessibility for staff, include accessibility knowledge in job descriptions and demonstrate inclusive culture by insisting that content always be made accessibly. Deque recently wrote a piece for TechCrunch on accessible hiring practices.
Chief Information Officers:
Use the standard form provided by CDT to determine whether your Agency, department, or entity website complies with California Government Code (CGC) Section 7405 and CGC Section 11135, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, or a subsequent version, published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium at minimum Level AA success criteria.
Provide leadership and support to ensure your organization’s website complies with, WCAG.
Using industry best practices for functional, user acceptance, and regression testing, verify that your Agency, department, or entity website complies with WCAG. Utilizes various accessibility software testing tools, such as, screen readers and voice recognition tools to evaluate website accessibility compliance as part of the systems development lifecycle process. The Checklists and Requirements will give you the resources to implement a digital accessibility program.
Electronic content that is public facing and content that constitutes official business and is communicated by an agency shall conform to the Section 508 accessibility requirements. When such content constitutes official business and is communicated by an agency through one or more of the following:
- An emergency notification;
- An initial or final decision adjudicating an administrative claim or proceeding;
- An internal or external program or policy announcement;
- A notice of benefits, program eligibility, employment opportunity, or personnel action;
- A formal acknowledgement of receipt;
- A survey questionnaire;
- A template or form;
- Educational or training materials; or Intranet content designed as a Web page.
Government Resources for Accessibility Services and Training:
Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) Services
Web Accessibility Community of Practice
Expand your knowledge of accessibility and help others by joining the Web Accessibility Community of Practice (WACoP). This forum of state staff across a wide variety of public entities discusses digital accessibility, posts questions, and finds information on digital accessibility int the WACoP collaboration site. Participate online where members of various departments discuss accessibility topics. Discuss your current accessibility projects or just listen in for ideas to further your own work. Join the WACoP today by emailing: WebAccessibilityToolkit@dor.ca.gov.
Disability Access Services (DAS) Accessibility Training and Remediation
The DAS at the DOR provides remediation services and training on document accessibility. For remediation services contact DASInfo@dor.ca.gov. Course dates, descriptions, and registration can be found at the DAS Trainings page.
Document Accessibility Remediation for electronic documents is offered by The Department of General Services for State Agencies for Word, PDF and other file types.
California Department of Technology (CDT) Website Accessibility Training
The courses offered target specific audiences to meet various aspects of accessibility.
The course dates, descriptions, and registration can be found at the CDT Course Schedule.
Federal Health and Human Services Resources
The HHS.GOV Accessibility Conformance Checklists page contains HHS Accessibility checklists. Anytime you are preparing an electronic document that will be posted online, distributing e-mail, programming web content, or creating video, accessibility checklists can help ensure compliance with federal guidelines.
Additional training resources are available on the Toolkit’s FAQ and Quick Links page.