Main content

Alert message

Student hands reading braille content

A few rules...

  1. Be polite.
    • no abusive language
    • DO NOT USE ALL CAPS (it is considered shouting!)
    • Don't expect a reply. most webmasters are very busy and may not even reply to your email. This is not them being rude, this is just them prioritizing. 
  2. Identify yourself.
  3. Explain what did not work...
    • Do research on your problem first. Make sure that it is actually the webmaster's fault, and not, say, a limitation of the browser or software you are using.
    • Explain what standard and assistive technology the student/class was using
    • Remember that your goal is to educate and help -- not condemn.
    • Present this as solving a problem, not taking them to task for a fault.
  4. Provide the specific page address.
  5. Indicate the date that the difficulty was encountered, especially if there is going to be a lag between the site-visit and the letter.
  6. Direct the webmaster to accessibility resources.
  7. If this is a government or school (K-12, University, etc.) Direct the webmaster to applicable legal standards.
  8. Invite the webmaster to reply with the start of a dialogue.
    • be willing to discuss this matter by asking for a reply for further information about accessibility and how the web is used by people with disabilities.
  9. Be prepared to lose. 
    • Give up early. If she writes back and says, "Sorry, I won't do it," then accept that, because wearing her down won't solve the problem, will only make her mad, and will only waste your time. 
    • Don't rely on "volume", either, to win a fight. Nobody likes to be flooded with email, and don't hope that if enough of your friends gang up on her, she'll see your point. Realize that you won't be able to win all battles today, and move on to those you can win.
  10. Remember: the webmaster is your ally in the fight for greater accessibility. If you lose your ally, you have lost the battle.

Sample Letters

Greetings,

I recently visited your site because I am quite interested in [[why were you visiting the site?: your topic (or product, or services)]]. I find that like many people, I am increasingly using the Web for [[whatever you are using it for: research, business applications, shopping, and entertainment]]. Your site has some interesting features and I would like to visit again.

I am wondering if you are aware, however, that your site contains barriers that prevent many people, including myself, from accessing all of the content. Removing these barriers and making your web site more widely accessible is not difficult, and can increase the numbers of people who can use your site by as much as 20%. Design standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) allow much broader access. Use of these standards will open your site to a variety of browsers and assistive devices commonly used by the growing number of people with disabilities who use the web for daily tasks including education and employment.

Accommodations for people with disabilities have demonstrated benefits for all of society. You have probably noticed that curb cuts and close captioning are used by millions more people than those with disabilities for whom they were designed. It's the same with web sites - accessible web design allows browsing by mobile devices and other emerging technologies.

Here are some things on your site that I had difficulty with--

I suggest that you have a look at the W3C guidelines at http://www.w3.org/WAI/ and use them to make future versions of your site more accessible. This way you can ensure that as many users as possible can take advantage of the information you publish and enjoy your site.

Thank you for your consideration.


Dear Webmaster:

I'm a [describe who you are: teacher of the visually impaired, student with visual impairment, parent, etc.]. I visited your [name of site] Web site today because I was looking for [yadda yadda yadda]. I was unable to find what I needed because your site is not accessible to my [name of assistive technology: screen-reading software, JAWS or Window Eyes, etc].

The problem(s) I found is (are) as follows: [describe what didn't work]

1. Several images on [address of page] are lacking ALT tags, and are reported by my screen-reader only as impossibly large and unintelligible numbers dot gif.

Information about making Web content accessible to people with disabilities is available at http://www.w3c.org/wai.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and thanks for your cooperation in addressing these issues.

Yours, etc.


Or, you can complete an Information Request Form on the website

Your Question:

I am the web master at the Texas School for the Blind. We use your products to make accessible tactile math, geography and other diagrams, not to mention art projects. As you can guess many of our students are blind and use screen readers to view web pages. Your site is inaccessible to students, teachers, and parents who are visually impaired or have print reading difficulties. To get an idea of what our students would hear from your website, I suggest you turn off images in your browser and see how much text is available. All the text that is on the screen will be spoken. Please go to  www.w3.org/tr/wcag20 for information on how to make your website more accessible.

We enjoy your product. We wish information about it was more usable by the people we serve. 


Other Resources

Viewable With Any Browser Example Letters

Q: A site I want to use doesn't work in my browser. What can I do about it? (from: Viewable With Any Browser Frequently Asked Questions)

A: The best thing you can do is to notify the maintainer of the site. Be polite (people are generally much more willing to help when you're polite) and explain, as clearly as possible, what the problems you're encountering are and how they can reproduce those problems to test for themselves (assuming you know how). It is a very good idea to also refer them to the Accessible Design Guide or other literature online which explains how they can deal with the accessibility issues they have, so that they will know how to fix it if they are willing. There are some example letters available you can base your message off of if you like.

If they tell you they are unwilling to fix their site, let them know what their actions are costing them (again, be polite) in terms of visits from you (or others if you normally recommend sites), sales, etc. Also, if there is a competing site which is accessible to you, make sure to let them know that they're getting your business instead. You may not be able to change their minds, but you can give them something to think about.