Accessibility statements are sometimes untrue

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I stumbled upon a lot of websites that had untrue accessibility statements. It’s quite easy to know when they are not being honest actually. Some goes even so far to claim they are compliant and conform to WCAG 2.1 on AAA level while their autoplaying hero video with no controls is screaming “lies” to me.

Call it a professional deformation (you know when we can have a tendency to look at things from the point of view of our profession), but I often read accessibility statements.

And quite often I also find them to be very untrue. It’s very simple to detect when they are untrue, actually. If somebodies accessibility statement states that they conform to WCAG 2.1, then we should be doubtful at once, considering that about 97% of websites have at least one WCAG failure (opens in new window).

Now I can’t be certain about real reasons people are untrue in their accessibility statements, but I can try to assume;

  • they copied the accessibility statement from a template and never looked back,
  • they were promised a conforming websites and trust their provider,
  • they are afraid of authorities and try to avoid being honest,
  • they have limited knowledge and everything seems fine for them,
  • their provider made the accessibility statement for them and they don’t have the resources to check after them,
  • they were reminded about not having an accessibility statement and just made a generic one.

I guess I covered most of them, and you can also think about them in different combinations, for sure.

Why should accessibility statements be honest?

I think it is logical to say that untrue accessibility statement is not useful for anybody. It’s not good for people with disabilities that may want to check if they are to expect some barriers, it’s not good for authorities that need to verify if statements are actually true or not and it doesn’t help the product owners if somebody finds out that their statement is untrue.

I will try to be short this time – be honest in your accessibility statement. It’s better to be honest about problems and how they will be fixed than to get a negative publicity, less traffic or maybe even legal consequences.

Try to make a public stand and show that yes, your product or website has some issues but you are working on them. Be honest, offer alternatives and please make people want to contact you in case they have some accessibility issues. End user feedback is golden, even if it is a complain. It is way worse not getting any feedback and loosing end users.

Author: Bogdan Cerovac

I am IAAP certified Web Accessibility Specialist (from 2020) and was Google certified Mobile Web Specialist.

Work as digital agency co-owner web developer and accessibility lead.

Sole entrepreneur behind IDEA-lab Cerovac (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility lab) after work. Check out my Accessibility Services if you want me to help your with digital accessibility.

Also head of the expert council at Institute for Digital Accessibility A11Y.si (in Slovenian).

Living and working in Norway (🇳🇴), originally from Slovenia (🇸🇮), loves exploring the globe (🌐).

Nurturing the web from 1999, this blog from 2019.

More about me and how to contact me: