Accessibility statement is a tool for the website user

The accessibility statement is often thought of as a tool for the site owner and evaluator. And yes, the statement is of great help to many people. However, the person for whom the accessibility statement is most useful is the end user.

But what is an accessibility statement?

An accessibility statement is a document or page that explains how a website (or app or other digital content) meets accessibility requirements. Accessibility statement should also contain description of the website, prefarably in the beginning of the statement.

By reading an accessibility statement, a user can decide whether a website is accessible to them and not waste their time on a website they cannot use. So the value of the accessibility statement can’t be underestimated.

The Web Accessibility Directive requires you to have an accessibility statement

If a site is subject to accessibility requirements, it is also subject to the requirement for an accessibility statement. That is defined on the EU level in the Web Accessibility Directive (2016/2102).

You can format the report as you wish, but there are certain requirements. Firstly, it must be easily accessible. A common place for it is, for example, in the footer of a website.

The statement must also be accessible. The law does not say whether the accessibility statement should be on a separate page on the website or, for example, as a file link. In many cases, the implementation as a page is by default a more accessible solution than as a file. File accessibility requires both know-how and the right tools.

Requirements for the accessibility statement

There are four requirements for the statement under Finnish law:

The statement must include an explanation of which parts of the content of the service provider’s digital service do not meet the accessibility requirements. In addition, this must include a justification for the deviation from the accessibility requirements.

The statement must include instructions on how the user can access the information contained in the digital service or an alternative way of accessing the service if the service or any part of it is not in an accessible format for the user.

The statement must include the electronic contact details of the service provider to which the user can send accessibility feedback.

The statement must include a link to the website of the supervisory authority where the user can lodge an accessibility complaint or request for clarification.

The Regional State Administrative Agency has implemented a tool to create an accessibility report. Using this tool, you can ensure that the accessibility statement contains all the required information. Unfortunately the tool is not currently available in English but they do have some instructions and tips in English. If you are looking for a tool in English, check out W3C’s Accessibility Statement Generator Tool.

A good accessibility statement can also bring additional benefits

At a minimum, the accessibility statement should contain all the required information. But you can take things further and get more benefits from the statement. An accessibility statement can be used to communicate to users the company’s commitment to inclusiveness, and willingness to remove barriers to using the site. It can be used to increase transparency and trust.

The accessibility statement must be maintained

The accessibility statement must be updated if problems on the site are fixed or new ones are found. It is a general recommendation that the statement should also include a timetable for fixing the problems. It is important to remember that the accessibility statement is not there so that problems on the site can just be written down and forgotten about.

New accessibility requirements will enter into force in 2025

It’s also worth remembering that online shops, for example, will be subject to accessibility requirements when the transition period ends on June 28, 2025, so now is a very good time to get your website accessibility right. If you need an accessibility audit or want to get an accessibility statement done by us, don’t hesitate to reach out! No matter what accessibility needs you might have, send us a message and let’s talk more!

Thoughts by

Sanna Kramsi

Competence Manager,

Senior Accessibility Engineer

20.02.2024

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