Ensuring CDCR and CCHCS meet web accessibility requirements are two Accessibility Coordinators: Ann Alejandria and Jennifer Corcoran.
CDCR and CCHCS websites are viewable to everyone with internet access, including the general public, so they need to abide by legislation. For those who rely on assistive devices or software, our adherence to the laws regarding accessibility is crucial.
What are Accessibility Coordinators and what do they do?
Alejandria: As an Accessibility Coordinator for CDCR’s website, I help make sure that its contents are accessible to everyone. I coordinate and train our content managers who post and make changes on our website as well as external support teams. I also use quality assurance tools and reports for ongoing oversight.
Corcoran: For CCHCS, the Accessibility Compliance Coordinator ensures content on our public facing website is accessible to all users including those using assistive technology. This means any person who visits the website is able to move around and use the material no matter how they access it. The Coordinator makes sure documents submitted for posting pass specific rules set by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), provides training to staff, and creates resources to help others learn how to make content accessible to all.
Why is accessibility important and how does it help further the department’s mission?
Corcoran: Everyone benefits when content is accessible. For example, vision-impaired individuals rely on technology to assist them with reading on the internet. If our content is not created to work with the technology, then these individuals cannot use our content as intended. However, by making our content accessible to work with this technology, it helps make sure the content is organized and logical for those who are not vision-impaired as well.
Alejandria: Accessibility is important because it is the right thing to do. Accessibility affects everyone and is legally mandated at the State and Federal levels. Accessibility also helps further the department’s mission to provide everyone equal access to information. It is part of diversity and inclusion.
Why are documents and web pages required to be accessible?
Corcoran: Providing accessible content on our website is not only the right thing to do, it is also the law. Recent updates to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA for short) include requirements for government and private sector websites. In California, Assembly Bill 434 is the guiding law for accessible state-managed websites.
Alejandria: Documents and web pages are required to be accessible under AB 434. This means California Government Code Section 11546.7 requires the director and chief information officer of each state agency or state entity to certify that their website is compliant with Web Accessibility Standards. As web accessibility requirements change we must match the new requirements.
How important are readability and SEO scores as related to accessibility?
Corcoran: Readability not only means the writing is easily understandable to audiences, but also the words on the page are legible. Things like font type and size, color, character and line spacing, layout and formatting, among other things, all contribute to readability. A search engine optimization (SEO) score measures how readable a website’s content is to a search engine. Therefore, this defines how easy it is for users to reach a website when searching on the internet. Both readability and SEO scores are optimized when accessibility is at the forefront of content creation.
Alejandria: The Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) mentions that the website’s text needs to be readable and understandable. Therefore, we want to make sure that the readability and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) scores are good. The goal is to write web content relevant to the subject with useful information and easy to read for lower grade levels. That helps both the SEO and accessibility.
What role do content managers play in overall accessibility? What do they do?
Corcoran: CCHCS Content Managers and Accessibility Coordinators ensure that content submitted on behalf of their program for posting on the public website is accessible. They work as a team within their program to create content that is accessible with training assistance from the CCHCS Accessibility Compliance Coordinator. These staff are valuable assets in the digital accessibility mission. Every program should have a team fully trained in content accessibility.
Alejandria: As the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), content managers mainly manage their own program’s website content whether they received it from other staff or they create it themselves. Often, staff will reach out to their content managers to make changes to the website. It is the content manager’s responsibility to analyze the information or document to be accessible before posting it online.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Corcoran: Thank you to all the folks who contribute to the digital accessibility of CCHCS. With our continued collective efforts and focus, we ensure all people can access the content we share on our website.
Alejandria: Thank you to all of our CDCR staff for helping our website content and documents be accessible to all. We really appreciate your hard work and contribution by removing barriers to information on our site.