How Website Accessibility Certification Works (for ADA Compliance)
Can someone certify your website as accessible so you can get a measure of assurance that you likely won’t receive a demand letter or complaint?
Can you get a certificate for completing training on web accessibility?
Let’s start with certifying a website as accessible.
Here’s how web accessibility certification works in 2023:
- There is no current legal prescription on what makes a website accessible (the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t specifically state how to make a website accessible).
- However, you can get a reputable organization (such as Accessible.org — this is me) that specializes in web accessibility to certify that you have met a version and conformance level of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This document is called a statement of conformance.
- You’ll need to have your website audited (and likely re-audited after remediation) by the organization issuing the conformance statement.
- Then you can request certification.
- If the company worked on your asset gives you a green light (no accessibility issues are found) after a re-audit (after your development team has completed remediation), you’re eligible to receive a statement of conformance (a construct of W3C) and/or the company’s own accessibility certificate.
By the way, if you sign up for the ADA Compliance Program at Accessible.org, you can your website both audited and remediated (fixed) at the same time and then get certification without the re-audit (because the remediation was done for you).
You can learn more at Accessible.org.
The most efficient way to do this is to go to a reputable accessibility company from the beginning.
You’ll have this company audit your website, then remediation takes place (whether in-house, through a third-party, or through the accessibility provider), and, then, re-audit after remediation.
If you’ve gone through one company to go through all of the steps (and they offer certification / conformance statements), then you can get certification issued.
Note: Making a website accessible involves a manual accessibility audit and the remediation of issues at the code and content level. There are no instant solutions to web accessibility and any vendors selling one are telling you that their offering (and any corresponding certificate) is worthless.
The web accessibility company will ensure that the primary pages and/or screens of your website meets all WCAG success criteria for the version and conformance level you are attempting to meet (i.e., WCAG 2.0 AA, 2.1 AA, or 2.2 AA).
Certification typically includes a document with the issuing company’s logo and a conformance statement that you can link to from your accessibility statement.
No knowledgeable / reputable company will issue “ADA website compliance certification” for a few reasons including:
- There are no exact parameters on what makes a website legally accessible and
- They are not a governing body or agent of the government or licensed by one.
However, a statement of conformance and/or independent certification will relay that your website has independently been deemed to meet WCAG 2.0 AA or 2.1 AA (or even 2.2 when the WAI finally finishes).
If you conform with the latest version of WCAG, it’d be extremely difficult to make a case that your web asset doesn’t meet the “meaningful access” standard for Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Moreover, if you take extra steps to follow legal and practical best practices including posting an accessibility statement and engaging in periodic user testing and audits, you’ve done everything possible to ensure your property is ADA compliant.
Even if you can’t officially receive an ADA digital compliance certificate, you can get the practical equivalent.
If you’re trying to attain certification of training or proficiency, you can get this where training is offered.
For example, ADACompliance.net (my training platform) offers a certificate upon completion of the WCAG Course.