On July 26, 1990 President Georgie H.W. Bush signed the American with Disabilities Act into law. Under this legislation, anyone with physical or mental disabilities are given the same opportunities as able-bodied individuals. Meaning, equal employment opportunities, practice equal state and government regulations and equal purchase of goods and services liberties.
In 2010, Title III was updated to include new technologies, revised to WCAG 2.0 AA.
Under the new standards, titled “Standards for Acceptable Design” business and non-profits are required to code their websites in a way that allows for those with sensory impairments to access and navigate a website with the same ease and accessibility as an able-bodied individual.
The process starts from ideation to code to design to execution. And adapted for every type of sensory disability – from blindness to the hearing impaired.
Usablenet, a website company focused entirely on web accessibility, shared a video showing two women with visibility impairments navigating a website. The women shared their struggles with typical websites and how simple fixes help them navigate a simple Google search.
Now, seven years after Title III was updated, companies can and are being sued for a lack of action in accommodating their websites.
Though not adhering to the standards is illegal and could cause a lawsuit, there is not a governing body watch-dogging the Internet to ensure every site is ADA compliant. But it happens.
In February 2015, the National Association of the Deaf filed two federal class action lawsuits against Harvard University and M.I.T. for not providing free online classes accessible to deaf students. Online classes are taught in large part by recorded video and/or audio, and the university failed to provide equal access to deaf students in the form of captions. Harvard did not comment on the result of the lawsuit, but Harvard Spokesman Jeff Neal stated the university’s Justice Department was going “to provide much-needed guidance in this area.”
5 Simple Ways to Make your Site More ADA Compliant
1. Add Alt Text to all Photos
While this textbox is largely ignored, it could save your company from a nationally-known lawsuit. Instead of leaving it blank, add text describing the photo. If the image does not load, or a visually impaired individual cannot view images, this text will help continue the story in place of the multimedia.
2. Add Captions
This is the easiest, but most tedious, tip. If your website has any video displayed on any webpage, simply transcribe it and add text into the video. Even if there are no words and it’s just really, really good music, let the audience know “Really good music playing.”
3. Include a “Skip Navigation”
Visually impaired individuals may use a text-reader to navigate a website. Imagine how annoying it would be if, in order to get to the body of copy on an article, you first had to go through “HOME. LOCAL NEWS. NATIONAL NEWS. LIFESTYLE. ETC” Every time. On every homepage. Not only is it exasperating, but it’s not easily accessible. When coding your site, include a “Skip Navigation” feature for those individuals to get right to the text he or she clicked.
4. Make an Accessibility Policy Easily Available on your Site
Either an explanation, or an attachment of a policy, is required to best explain your site follows WCAG 2.0 AA, preferably as a brief sentence on the footer of your site.
5. Ask us!
We’re up to date on Title III and want your business to succeed. Sites or companies that promise to “scan” a website for you are frequently inaccurate and not reliable. If you’re currently not following these regulations, and have no idea how or where to start, we’re happy to help get your business safe and accessible by all.