American Disabilities Act: What and Why
In this day and age of compliance and liability, at 51blocks, we know that American Disabilities Act (ADA) website compliance is a must. This means all websites must provide equal accessibility to all information and services offered to website visitors, including those who are sight-impaired, hearing-impaired and physically challenged.
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 and requires that, “state and local governments provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of their programs, services, or activities or would impose an undue burden.” Technically, this requirement does not specifically mention websites, however, company websites who are not compliant can be sued, which is why establishing and maintaining ADA compliance is crucial.
Becoming ADA Compliant
Using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, 51blocks has been able to establish and continually update website-alternative-avenues for people with disabilities, including:
Voice-driven computer control - for a sight-impaired web user, this software, from Windows, uses voice to control the computer.
Color, contrast and font adjustments - for those visitors with low vision, color contrast and/or larger fonts are used.
HTML code describing images and graphics - for sight-impaired users, this type of text allows the user to know what images and graphics the website contains. “Alt tag” are used for short descriptions, “longdesc tag” are used for long descriptions. Text should not just define image, but explain image.
Mouseless keyboard option - for those website users with manual dexterity issues, keyboard shortcuts are helpful.
PDF document-alternatives using HTML or RTF (Rich Text Format) documents - for sight-impaired web visitors, this type of user-friendly format should include all text fields and checkboxes.
Audio descriptions of all images - for sight-impaired web users, these “descriptive narratives” help define images.
Videos with text captions - for hearing-impaired visitors, text captions allow users to experience website sounds through captions.
ADA Adaptive Logistics
To accomplish the above-mentioned ways for becoming ADA website compliant, permanent systems must be put into place, such as:
- Assigning a point person for current ADA compliance who is well-trained, using “Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities”
- Making sure point person reviews all website material for ADA compliance
- Enlisting assistance of a person with disabilities to navigate through website
- Including “non-computerized” ways for non-computer-accessible, people with disabilities to access information and services
- Testing website for accessibility by using free or low-cost accessibility programs
Other ADA Website-compliant Considerations
Other, user-friendly website attributes should include:
- Posting the name of the ADA-compliant point-person on website
- Offering a “skip navigation” option
- Being mindful of distracting features, like blinking
- Adding a pause feature for all auto-updates
- Providing transcripts for hearing-impairsed
- Adding accomodations for any timed responses
- Creating and posting your company’s Website Accessibility Policy
- Encouraging feedback to further improve accessibility
- Routinely updating adaptive web page accessibility alternatives
- Including contact information for requests for accessible information or services
- Including an accessibility page that can be easily navigated from your home page
For more information on ADA requirements and how to guarantee your webpage is ADA compliant contact 51blocks.