How many times a day do you access a website? To check your bank account balance, fill out medical forms or apply for a car loan? These simple tasks we perform on a daily basis become much more difficult if your vision or hearing is impaired and a website is inaccessible.
Enter, the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA was passed in the early 90s, but in 2010, the Justice Department released the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, and it’s been determined that “design of the physical space” includes websites.
Though official guidelines for web compliance aren’t projected to be released until 2018, there are things you can do now to ensure users with impairments can still easily use your website and meet the guidelines of the 2010 update.
What does the ADA say?
The ADA’s guidelines for accessible websites are projected to look like the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level AA (WCAG 2.0), which the Justice Department has used in several lawsuits. WebAIM developed a checklist to assist businesses in meeting the guidelines, but here are the basics, straight from the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
Provide text alternatives for non-text content (exceptions apply).
Provide alternatives for time-based media.
Create content that can be presented in different ways without losing information or structure.
Make it easier for users to to see and hear content.
Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
Provide users enough time to read and use content.
Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
Provide ways to help users navigate, find content and determine where they are.
Make text content readable and understandable.
Make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
Input assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.
So ... Where do I go from here?
Quite simply, make sure your website complies with these guidelines! Most of these items can be taken care of during website development, so simply ensuring your developers are aware of the requirements will go a long way. Plus, the WCAG 2.0 provides developers with handy dandy instructions on how to meet the guidelines.
But if your website doesn’t meet all of these requirements, don’t worry; the changes don’t have to happen overnight, and you don’t need to hire a lawyer to plead your case. Like with a physical space, the law allows for transition plans, exemptions, etc.
If you’re considering redesigning your website, make sure the agency you choose is aware of the guidelines and will ensure your website is compliant. Contact us today to learn more.