There are many people with disabilities from all walks of life everywhere in the world. They live very differently from those who don’t suffer from physical, mental, or emotionally debilitating conditions. And due to the staggering number of individuals who are classified as disabled, the ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. As the name suggests, this law is intended to ensure those with handicaps are given access to the same products and services that the majority of people enjoy. In other words, ADA Compliance was created so that even the disabled have the same offerings that both business and government entities alike provide for the general public.
In today’s digital world, ADA rules apply beyond that of physical goods and location – it also encompasses websites. And it is for this reason that the guidelines for digital accessibility are implemented. In this article, we will cover all the requirements and standards that organizations must adhere to with website accessibility and why they need to be compliant with this act.
ADA Compliance coverage
The Americans with Disabilities Act covers a broad range of groups that include but aren’t necessarily limited to local and state governments, non-profit organizations and businesses that serve the general public, and other establishments like theaters and restaurants. The ADA exists as a means of protecting individuals with disabilities by making sure that they aren’t denied access to the aforementioned services due to their limiting conditions. It’s well worth noting that imposed regulations apply to digital medium and online platforms. If a business, for example, takes in job applications over the Internet, it needs to meet ADA compliance to give the disabled a chance to apply.
Website accessibility compliance guidelines for ADA Compliance
The website accessibility compliance guidelines or the WCAG for short covers a comprehensive range of digital factors that may serve as barriers for the disabled. The guidelines are meant to address these obstacles as it can be more than a little tricky to know what elements affect those with handicaps and keep them from utilizing the digital platform to the fullest. Listed below are the following requirements or criteria to ensure the ADA Complianceof the website.
- All live and pre-recorded audio-visual content must have subtitles or captions so that people who are deaf or have impaired hearing can understand the information or message that it’s trying to convey.
- A written transcript is required for audio files to ensure that individuals suffering from hearing problems are able to comprehend the content.
- Alternative text is required for pictures so that those who suffer from vision loss or impairment are able to decipher the meaning, especially if the images serve a navigational purpose or structural function.
- The written text on the page must always be recognizable without compromising the way in which it’s supposed to be displayed, so those who have visual disabilities are able to magnify and read them with ease.
- All entry tasks and forms must never have time limits to ensure that those with disabilities are able to complete them easily.
- Any component that appears across all the pages of the website, such as headers, sidebars, and navigation, must always be found in the exact location to ensure that everyone can find them, regardless of what page they’re in.
- Every user must be given the ability to move around the website without utilizing a mouse.
- All pages within a website need to follow the correct level structure for their heading, so people who use screen readers are better able to navigate it.
Digital accessibility – how it makes a difference
With over four billion active Internet users all over the world, and an estimated five-hundred billion dollars spent online in the United States alone, the spending power of the disabled can’t be underestimated. And if a specific website lacks the digital accessibility to cater to those with handicaps, then it essentially denies access to at least sixty million Americans. In addition, the majority of prospective customers who have disabilities are likely to leave the site without a second thought if it fails to accommodate their needs.
However, by following all of the guidelines and criteria of website accessibility, an organization stands to appeal to millions. And by doing so, remain legally compliant and generate the exposure that a business needs to reach its intended audience and improve sales.
The advantages of website accessibility
There are a number of reasons why website accessibility is not only essential but beneficial. However, remaining focused on the most important motives behind the act will provide better direction on what appears to be a colossal endeavor. So apart from the fact that doing so will help improve the user experience of millions of individuals who are disabled, here are three of the main reasons why it’s important why all websites should comply with ADA.
- ADA is a law. Legislations such as the American with Disabilities Act makes it clear that it’s against the law to discriminate, especially against those who suffer from disabilities. Equal access to services and goods isn’t just a suggestion but a law that all businesses, government entities, and other types of organizations must always remain compliant with.
- ADA is a right. The rights of people who are disabled, as agreed upon by the 161 countries in attendance of the convention of the United Nations, acknowledges the duty and commitment of all to give those with disabilities access to new communications and information technology and systems that includes the World Wide Web.
- ADA is an advantage for businesses. With so many disabled users with billions when it comes to purchasing power, giving them access will mean a considerable leap for companies in both awareness and revenue.
Web accessibility is enforced by the Department of Justice
The DOJ or Department of Justice heavily enforces website accessibility. After all, the inability of the disabled to access webpages puts them at a huge disadvantage in society. And because of this, the failure of any organization to comply with the guidelines that promote the accessibility of digital content to everyone, regardless of kind of handicap or disability, can potentially lead to lawsuits and hefty fines. They are committed to providing all people with the same level of access to the advantages available on the online platform. And this will only be possible if everyone understands all of its criteria, knows that it’s an obligation, and prioritizes accessibility above all.
Why guidelines on web accessibility matter
Guidelines on web accessibility matter because it removes the guesswork in the process of compliance. If organizations have an outline to follow, they can ensure that their respective sites can be utilized by anyone, including those who have disabilities. And more importantly, avoid any errors that can prevent the pages from being less accessible than they should be. Due to its vagueness, it’s difficult to cover every single barrier for accessibility, after all. But with guidelines in place, the task becomes easier.
Achieving digital accessibility and ADA Compliance may not be easy, but it’s an impossibility. With the right requirements and guidelines, all organizations can make sure that their websites can be fully used by all. And paired with a qualified partner that provides both functional and manual testing services to look for any kind of accessibility problem, it’ll be possible to keep the web page free of any and all violations and help it meet all the needs of every visitor that goes to the website.