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This post is a follow-up to a recent webinar we hosted in partnership with DCL. In that webinar, Stephani Clark, Customer Success Manager, easyDITA, and Mark Gross, President, DCL, discussed how making your content more accessible can benefit your organization.

After the webinar, we received a number of questions. In this post, Stephani provides answers to a few of the best and most frequently asked questions.

How can you be sure you’re in compliance with Section 508?

The number one way to ensure you’re compliant would be to hire a third-party firm to do an audit of your content. That is also the best way to gain certifications such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliance level grade. (Web Accessibility in Mind) is a terrific site for this. You will find a number of resources, including access to third-party auditors who will review your content.

One thing to remember when seeking 508 compliance is simplicity. Unnecessary complexity on your website will make navigation more difficult for all of your users. Simplicity also applies to authoring and publishing your content. Develop simplified workflows to reduce the opportunities for things to fall through the cracks. Automation is your ally in this area. easyDITA’s publishing plugin lets you automatically ensure that your content is styled in a compliant manner when published.  

In addition to finding third-party auditors, has a number of excellent resources to aid in your compliance efforts, such as their contrast checker, 508 compliance checklist, and the WAVE reader.

How does one decide when to remediate PDF files as opposed to reverting to DITA?

It depends on a few factors, namely:

  • What publishing outputs and file types
  • How many documents
  • What languages you publish to

If your organization only publishes PDF documents and they need to be made available in a short period of time, remediation is probably the better choice.

On the other hand, if you have documents that are regularly edited and will be published repeatedly or to multiple outputs, then I think the best way to preserve the asset value of your documents would be to convert them into a structured format such as DITA.

You should also consider multilingual and multi-channel publishing requirements. In both cases, DITA offers significant value and efficiencies. Both are common motivators for companies to make the jump to structured authoring. Since you can keep multiple language formats in sync and you can use translation memory to minimize the cost of translation.


Why are private companies getting sued over accessibility issues?

In the same way that the American Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that public spaces need to be physically accessible to people, private lawsuits are made on the grounds that public, online content needs to be accessible to people. For example, a movie theatre needs wheelchair accessible seating, ramps, and elevators. Just like a physical theatre, companies like Netflix must provide closed captioning to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

Do you still have questions? Leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to give you our best answer.

Interested in learning more about how easyDITA as a content management system can aid your pursuit of section 508 compliance? Contact us and we’ll provide a free, no-nonsense demo to see if your situation is a good fit for easyDITA.

Stephani Clark is a Customer Success Manager for easyDITA, a DITA Component Content Management System based in Rochester. She works to train and assist users of easyDITA’s software. Stephani also works on easyDITA’s information development team and spends about half her time creating technical documentation for the software.
Stephani Clark