The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was published by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide better accessibility in public spaces and business workplaces. With approximately 50 million Americans living with a disability, this measure aimed to create better opportunity.
But that was 1990.
While providing accommodation in physical places obviously cannot be ignored, there is an ever-growing importance for online web accessibility today and onward.
Why it Matters: ADA and Your Website
ADA-compliancy in web design has become a growing topic of debate and has been enforced by the DOJ in a few recent cases.
Online presence for businesses, non-profits, and brands is more important now than ever. Without offering an ADA-compliant website alternative however, a website owner is missing out on potential customers and could even be setting oneself up for a lawsuit.
Not to mention, website owners who provide human necessities in the form of services, products, or information can be especially inclined, from an ethical standpoint, to accommodate disabled Americans—more so than a typical small business. Websites relating to health, education, law, and financing are just a few vital topics that come to mind.
Know someone who could benefit from an ADA-compliant web design service? …share this with them!
To make things less confusing and more concrete for website owners and developers, the DOJ has referenced an in-depth online guideline for ADA-compliant web design.
The DOJ has primarily used the WCAG 2.0 for reference.
How to Comply with ADA
The original, preliminary WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1995. This was followed by the WCAG 1.0 in 1999 and the WCAG 2.0 in 2008.
The WCAG 1.0 was a more simplified a version that didn’t quite account for the technological advancements and standards in web design post-1999.
The WCAG 2.0 is a more detailed version that allows web designers and developers to meet the 4 principles of accessibility (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust) while also selecting one of 3 degrees of conformance (A, AA, AAA).
The Four Principles of Accessibility
Copied straight from the online WCAG 2.0 guideline:
1. Perceivable - Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
- This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can't be invisible to all of their senses)
2. Operable - User interface components and navigation must be operable.
- This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)
3. Understandable - Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
- This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding)
4. Robust - Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
- This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)
Again, copied straight from the online WCAG 2.0 guideline:
- Level A: For Level A conformance (the minimum level of conformance), the Web page satisfies all the Level A Success Criteria, or a conforming alternate version is provided.
- Level AA: For Level AA conformance, the Web page satisfies all the Level A and Level AA Success Criteria, or a Level AA conforming alternate version is provided.
- Level AAA: For Level AAA conformance, the Web page satisfies all the Level A, Level AA and Level AAA Success Criteria, or a Level AAA conforming alternate version is provided.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Are you part of or work with the federal government?
Yes? Well then a totally separate piece of registration referred to as “Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973” which was amended by Congress in 1998 applies to you.
This law requires all federal agencies/contractors to ensure that their electronic and information technology is accessible to people, both employees and members of the public, who have disabilities.
Following WCAG 2.0’s guidelines can help cover the requirements that people affected by Section 508 must abide by.
So…what are the actual website facets that must be modified/controlled to ensure a positive, healthy, seamless user experience for those who suffer from blindness, epilepsy, deafness, cognitive disability, or other impairments?
ADA-Compliant Web Design & Development
There’s an extensive list of dos and don’ts when it comes to designing and developing your ADA-compliant website. Using expert web development to build a reliable, functional, accessible website that keeps the target users in mind is half the pie. Using thorough ADA-compliant standards in web design in the other half.
Lucky for you, we know how to bake the full pie – contact Dorey Design Group for a web design service estimate.
I won’t list out ALL of the accessibility checklist points to accomplish ADA-compliancy in web design + development, but here’s a few to give you an idea:
- Each and every image, video embed, audio file, plug-in, and so on, has an alt tag.
- Alt tags accurately describe the purpose of these attributes with correct formatting so that screen reading software can communicate information precisely.
- Decorative images and other non-valued attributes omit alt tags.
- Audio and video transcripts are included.
- The <area> tags must contain an alt attribute.
- On-page data tables have column and row headers properly identified via <th> tag.
- Correct color and font sizing
- Any tables used solely for layout purposes omit header columns/rows.
- All Java applets/scripts/plug-ins (such as PDF and PPT files) and their respective content are accessible to assistive technologies.
- And much, much more.
Get in Touch with ADA-Compliancy Website Experts
Don’t fret over missing something when it comes to creating an optimal ADA-compliant website.
Rather taking your chances with unskilled talent, talk with veteran web developers.
Dorey Design Group has been building custom websites since 2001, maintains a list of happy clients, and can advise you on the best approach to building your business or non-profit website.
We care about your success.
Contact us today for advice or a free estimate on developing + designing your ADA-compliant website.
Check out our fully-responsive and WCAG 2.0 Level A-conforming client website, Explore Bothell!