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Accessibility Guidelines for CMS Admins Pt 1: Introduction

Client Resources

If you happened across this article series, chances are you either need to A) show site administrators how to create and manage accessible site content, or B) you’re the one in charge of content management and you want to do it right in every way. But what does doing it right mean? What type of right am I talking about? In this series I am going to break down some ways to help improve the accessibility of content entered within a CMS system. Before we get into that though, let’s debunk a few myths around web accessibility and CMS systems.

Myth: Accessibility doesn’t improve the experience for other users.

Okay, this one isn’t strictly related to CMS systems, but is the most important concept you should walk away with after reading this. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has a great quote on this topic: “Essential for some, useful for all.” Think about how many people just read the captions on video captions when they’re scrolling through Facebook in a loud area with no headphones? Even simple things such as providing more than color as an indication of the state of an element or message is useful for people who learn and understand information differently. While features like that are essential for people using assistive technology to understand what web pages are presenting, those same features often create a more positive, intuitive user experience. WAI has also published a series of perspective videos that show different ways accessible website features benefit everyone.

Myth: Web accessibility is entirely in the hands of site developers, not content managers.

When it comes to sites that utilize a content management system (CMS), it’s easy to place the responsibility for accessibility on the web developers who created it, or the agency that designed it. After all, isn’t that part of what they were hired to do? The truth is there are many ways to add content that introduces accessibility barriers within content management systems, no matter how well-built they are. Generally speaking, the more flexibility you’re given within a CMS system, the more likely it is that barriers to accessibility exist due to mistakes and poor choices when adding content. Developers are responsible for making sure content managers have the tools they need to make their content accessible, but it’s in the hands of the content managers to leverage those tools to optimize their content for universal access.

Myth: Making CMS content accessible is difficult.

The truth is, making online content accessible isn’t difficult at all! Optimizing your content for accessibility is achievable as long as you know what to do. Like learning to write quality calls to action or editing an image in Photoshop, once you understand the concepts and best practices, making CMS content accessible will become second nature.

Fact: You can do this!

Like I said before, once you learn what you have to do, making content accessible is very achievable. This series will cover three common aspects of content management that are prone to accessibility issues:

  1. Images
  2. Links
  3. WYSIWYG Content

Not only will I show examples of how to correctly configure these aspects of your CMS content, but I’ll show you why it matters to people using assistive technologies. We’ll even look at different ways a CMS might fail to deliver the tools you need to make your content accessible. In that case, you should contact your web developer or CMS provider to fix the situation.