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Everyone’s Suddenly Become an ‘Accessibility Expert’

By Geof Collis
Badeyes Design & Consulting
April 26, 2010
Just like dandelions in Spring Web Accessibility Experts are popping up all over the place!
Now that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Customer Care Standard is Law and the Information and Communications Standard is soon to follow,websites are showing up claiming all kinds of expertise.

They are experts in Customer Care, Web Accessibility, cleaning windows and I’ll bet Transportation and the Built Environment before too long.

What should concern people the most at this point is the so called Web Accessibility Experts.

They can perform Audits, create accessible documentation such as PDFs and build accessible websites among many of their skills, heck they can do it all! A regular “One Stop Shop for all your Accessibility needs “!

Problem is their own site isn’t accessible, they have no Portfolio other than a “I’ve done work for…” with no links to show for it, some even use a Third Party site builder/Blog and the site hasn’t been up for very long.

That doesn’t stop them from telling you they can build accessible websites, perform Audits and create accessible documentation.

Ask them why their own site isn’t compliant and you’ll get something like: I’m too busy to fix it, just trust me.

They use online validation tools freely available to anyone, but really dont know any more than what the program outputs and they dont know how to fix the problem that it finds.

They use conversion tools to create their PDF documents and think they’ve just created an accessible one but fail to realize that if it isn’t tagged properly to begin with it wont be accessible at the other end.

Not to worry though!!

They have there “Go To Expert Person”. You know the one. Tell them their site isn’t accessible and they say: I have a blind expert/person who uses a screen reader and he says he has no problem accessing the site, end of story!

I have an expert/person who says he can access the PDF document, end of story!

So what do you do?

Simple, do your homework. Ask questions.

How long have they been building Standards Compliant websites? Ask for examples of their work, concrete examples not “I worked with..”.

If they outsource their work then ask for their credentials and ask the same questions as above.

While online “Accessibility Validation Checkers” such as the ones at http://www.badeyes.com/?cat=4 can help determine if their site is accessible, they are only a first step but if they cant pass them then you need to move on.

If they do pass then you still need to dig deeper, these tools can be fooled into giving a passing grade.

There are “Real Experts” out there you’ll just need to find them, unfortunately the “Dandelions” haven’t made it easy for you.