Why compliance isn’t about ticking a box

I have been working on a series of articles on web accessibility laws for a client. We are keen to emphasize that when it comes to accessibility, compliance with accessibility laws must be seen as a starting point, not the end goal. Accessibility must be a process involving standards compliance, user-centred design, and continuous monitoring and improvement. It is never supposed to be about running down a tick-box list, and providing halfhearted answers to tick those boxes, so that you do not get sued.

To demonstrate that point, the client has shared this brilliant blog post by a standards accreditation company who trolled their competitors – some of whom are little more than certification mills – to certify concrete life jackets as being standards compliant.

Their plan worked.

Some of these clowns were perfectly ready and willing to rubber stamp concrete life jackets as being ISO 9001 certified because the submitting organisation ticked all the boxes.

Concrete life jackets.

If you view legal compliance – whether that’s accessibility or otherwise – as a tick box you must run through to meet the standard and/or not get sued, regardless of the quality of your work or its impact on those who use it, you need to rethink your place on the web.

About the author
Heather Burns is a digital law specialist in Glasgow, Scotland. She researches, writes, publishes, consults, and speaks extensively on internet laws and policies which affect the crafts of web design and development. She has been designing and developing web sites since 1997 and has been a professional web site designer since 2007. She holds a postgraduate certification in internet law and policy from the University of Strathclyde. Learn about hiring Heather to write, speak, or consult.