Our certified accessibility experts know how to achieve compliance and reduce legal risk. We can help you handle complaints and avoid costly, unpredictable lawsuits.
Americans with Disabilities Act
We run into ADA issues quite often these days whether we walk into buildings that do not enable ramps for the handicapped, or businesses that do not have wheelchair-friendly restroom stalls, or websites with color contrast issues and no alternate text on images. As a result, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by George W. Bush. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with all types of disabilities by employers.
One of the main goals of ADA is to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the typical American life which includes enjoying opportunities, purchasing goods and services in person or online via a website, and participating in government programs and services.
The ADA standards are developed and managed by the Access Board and both the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation are responsible for enforcing the standards.
Technology forces us to think about accessibility in a broader context than even our physical environment. It’s not just whether a person requires a wheelchair. A person could be visually impaired or have a motor disability. A person could have a slower internet or an older browser. With a graying population, some are not familiar with the modern user interface (UI) pattern. Disabilities may include visual, auditory, physical, speech, mental and neurological disabilities. Adherence to web accessibility standards benefits all users especially the elderly. Accessibility laws have increasingly expanded to an online context. Websites must support assistive technology such as screen reader programs, which read aloud web pages to help the visually impaired.
Web accessibility is a vast topic but some rules are constant:
- Semantic, descriptive HTML that reflects the intended purpose
- Alternative text for images and non-text content
- Clear and readable content – don’t make assumptions about what your audience knows
- All website functionality must be accessible via keyboard
- Accessibility is dynamic, not brittle – if a user is facing any issue, your store has to be able to respond to feedback and fix the issue.
- Usability testing – try your website on different machines/browsers/assistive tech
- Responsive design and open to magnification
- Minimizing blinking, flashing, or distracting features which can cause seizures – at least, give people the option to pause those features
- Make PDF content accessible in HTML
- Clear, descriptive, and easily discernible links – the appearance and the title
- Prevent errors with clear copy on the website and Identify errors as they occur
- Color contrast – pick mindful color combinations for your website (background vs. foreground text)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, otherwise known as WCAG, are standards for web accessibility and guidance on conformance. While the question of what activities online must be made accessible is unsettled, accessibility laws have focused on WCAG 2.0 as the standard for digital accessibility compliance. It covers a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible. The success criteria are written as testable statements that are not technology-specific and are categorized into three levels of compliance: A (basic or minimal impact), AA (mid-level or “happy medium”), and AAA (advanced). WCAG 2.1 was produced by the Web Accessibility Initiative, part of W3C–the group of developers who establish a lot of the mechanics of the modern internet.
Be Accessible recommends meeting WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance. WCAG 2.1 is the newest and latest guideline – it will soon be the standard. We stay ahead of regulation.
Usability & Accessibility Testing
Usability testing is a technique used to evaluate a product by testing it on potential users. Accessibility testing is a subset of usability testing. It is used to determine whether the product will be able to be used by individuals with disabilities whether with the help of automated accessibility testing software or sample workflow audits performed by web engineers or blind individuals.
Individuals with visual disabilities use assistive technologies like screen reader programs to help them read the text that is displayed on the screen. Assistive technologies are equipment or system used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. These types of assistive technologies are generally always used during usability testing.
How ADA Affects Businesses
The Department of Justice issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2010 to ensure that ADA applies to all business with more than 15 employees and its respective websites public and private. Just as your brick-and-mortar business must be accessible to all customers, the same goes for your website. Each year ADA compliance litigations filed by advocacy groups and law firms across the U.S. are on a significant rise, and your company is also at risk of possible lawsuits.
Online accessibility standards are complex and at times, subjective. Many companies are not aware that their sites are required to be ADA compliant. Unfortunately, many businesses have learned of this requirement via contact by an advocacy group or law firm for remediation.
Some other reasons why ADA compliance is important:
- Improved lives of people with disabilities
- Better usability for all visitors
- Improved metrics (ex. less time spent on the website, higher rate of completed tasks, etc.)
- Minimized risk of bad press and litigation
- Increased sales revenue and new customers
Be Accessible = Compliance
Be Accessible, Inc. will provide your company with a low-cost website and mobile application audit that will bring your business towards ADA compliance. With our 3-Step Solution, we’ll first utilize top-rated automated software to log the location of distinct errors on your site. Next, our experienced web auditors will manually inspect a representative sample of your website or app to identify the greatest accessibility issues. Lastly, we’ll bring blind individuals into a lab and conduct usability testing of your website or mobile app. We aim to repair your site with little effect on your development team as possible. We’ll work closely to train how to integrate accessibility into your online processes. We also can provide on-site ADA training for your business in order to spread awareness about disabilities in the workplace and teach you how to eliminate accessibility issues.
We reduce your legal risk, bring you to ADA compliance, and broaden the circle that can fully benefit from your site.