Why is ADA Compliance Vital for Your Digital Properties?
- Your website needs to be accessible to a range of potential users with disabilities, as part of your compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Failure to do so won’t just limit your potential client base – it can also mean you’re liable for legal damages as well. As great as the Internet is for sharing information about your business, there’s a fundamental drawback in the nature of how it works – it favors the sighted world. Given that the primary interface between users and the Internet is a screen, obviously, it presupposes that the user has a certain quality of vision.
- When it comes to governmental organizations, websites have often become the primary way in which customers (i.e., citizens) access and use programs. Much of it happens online, and the ADA dictates that it must be equally accessible to all users regardless of disability.
What Are the Consequences Of ADA Violations?
- Public school websites are required to be ADA compliant through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. School districts are also required to post certain information on their website, especially financial information. Community members, parents and students often frequent a district’s website to obtain important information and news about their district. However, if your website is not ADA compliant, the risk of a lawsuit and unfortunately, the rate of lawsuits filed against businesses violating the ADA has risen drastically.
What Do You Have To Do To Be ADA Compliant?
- The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have at this point become the internationally recognized benchmark for web accessibility. WCAG is based on four principles of accessibility, from which its guidelines have been developed:
- Perceivable – the user must be able to perceive the info (i.e., it can’t be “invisible” to their available senses).
- Operable – the user must be able to operate the interface, regardless of their disability.
- Understandable – both the information available and operation of the interface must be understandable to the user.
- Robust – the content on the website must be robust enough to be interpreted by a range of user agents and assistive technologies (such as screen readers and braille terminals).
- At its most basic, WCAG dictates a number of minimum standards, the implementation of which go a long way to addressing accessibility needs for users with disabilities. These standards are:
- Text contrast ratio: The text on the website must meet a minimum contrast ratio against the background. While this may seem like a minor point, keep in mind that it can greatly affect the decision you make in the design phase of your website, such as the color scheme.
- Keyboard navigability: The website must be fully navigable by keyboard only.
- Screen reader compatibility: The website must be navigable with a screen reader, which is a type of software speaks written text. It allows a person to listen to the written text on a webpage or in a computer program. Keep in mind that screen readers only read text; they cannot describe pictures or other images, even if the images are pictures of text.
- Text scaling: The website must be able to accommodate up to 200% text scaling without resulting in horizontal scrolling or content-breaking layout issues.
This article was also featured in our newsletter Lesson Plan Vol. 26