Digital accessibility for websites and digital services is incredibly important, and here at HeX Productions, we’ve partnered with Shaw Trust Accessibility Services to offer an end-to-end accessibility solution for your online presence – incorporating reviews, testing, development and accreditation. No matter the size of your website, we will help you to achieve an accreditation from one of the UK’s leading disability charities. Our accreditation shows that you have tested your website to include people with a range of impairments and are able to serve a wider demographic.

For public sector organisations, it will soon be a legal requirement to ensure your digital service is accessible for everybody. And for commercial businesses, you could find yourself in legal battles or bearing the brunt of disability awareness campaign groups. Being able to display an accreditation badge shows that you are making accessibility a priority.

How does the accreditation work?

Whether it’s a pre-existing website or a brand new one, there are multiple stages to becoming accredited, and we’ll take you through them, step by step.

Step 1 – Digital health check – a snapshot

This is fairly simple – we do an automated accessibility review on your website, completely free of charge. This lets you know what areas need to be improved and, roughly, how accessible/inaccessible your website is. There are a range of common errors that most websites have which we can point out on your website.

Step 2 – Wireframe review

If you’re building a brand new website, it’s important to be accessible from the very beginning, which is why we go through your website’s wireframes and assess the functionality of them for any common accessibility pitfalls. This includes user journeys and assessing how easy it is to navigate around to key areas of your website and how you intend the information to be displayed. We also consider which elements are going to require coding for screen readers and other assistive technologies.

If you’re not building from scratch, it is still good practice to review the page elements, how the pages are viewed and where the links take you to.

Step 3 – Design Review

This is where we work closely with the Shaw Trust Accessibility Services team to take a look at the aesthetics of the website, making sure that the customer journeys are accessible from a visual perspective. Colour contrast, font sizes, moving features, sliders and the amount of information being displayed on a page. Too much information can be very distracting without cognitive challenges so keeping things simple, clear with well titled headings is key.

Step 4 – Development

Dependent on the size and skills of your in-house team, we can either provide accessibility consultancy to your existing developers, ensuring you are including the key snippets of code to make your functions accessible. Or we can take the reins and lead the build of the website using HeX developers, staying in touch at key milestone and sharing each stage of the build on your dedicated development server. Because our web developers are educated with the skills to develop accessible websites, the accreditation process tends to be a lot more streamlined as it is less likely for fixes to be needed later in the process, saving you time and money.

Step 5 – Test

A test can be valuable in different ways, depending on the size and scope of the project.

If you are building a brand new website with HeX input, the full user test would be carried out near the end of the project to check that everything that has been designed and built meets WCAG 2.1 standards. This will be followed by the fixing of any snags that the test has identified.

If your site is existing and you are either creating some new features and want to start your journey to becoming accredited, or you want to have the entire site assessed to help you create a plan of action, a full test up-front is advisable. This will allow you to get the full picture, assess where you need developer input but also identify some key areas which may require some website editor training.

Step 6 – Fix

There will be a period of 6 months after the initial full test to allow you to fix the issues outlined before a free retest. The re-test will pick up any minor outstanding errors.

The number of fixes that are needed to make your website fully accessible could vary. If your website was built by us, or with our advice, there is likely to only a few fixes to make sure it meets standards. However, if this a site that has not been developed with accessibility in mind, there could be many. But don’t fear, HeX Productions can help you to plan your priorities, offer development services to ensure that you complete these fixes accurately and in a timely manner, and provide support with editor training to future-proof your digital service.

Step 7 – Accreditation

Once the final version of your website has been tested by Shaw Trust Accessibility Services’ user testers, and they confirm it meets at least Level AA in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, you will be awarded an official accreditation from Shaw Trust. This means you can proudly display a badge on your website, and will be listed on Shaw Trust’s official accredited accessible organisation list.

Maintaining your accreditation

Your accreditation is valid for 1 year. Once your site has been tested and accredited, you will, no doubt, want to keep that badge of honour.

This is why we offer a subscription package to allow you to maintain your status. Whats more, with a monthly scan of your site, we can report on errors every month making it easy to stay on top of your websites accessibility.

As part of your accessibility subscription package you will receive a full test at the end of the year, providing an accreditation for a further year, and if you have kept on top of things using your monthly reports, you will have less problems to fix. Simple.