What Does Accessible Mean?

What Does Accessible Mean?

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What Does ADA Accessible Mean? Here is a plain-English Introduction.

Americans with Disabilities ActThe world-wide-web benefits everyone differently. Students at universities use it for research, stores use it to sell products, while doctors and nurses at hospitals use it to document patient vitals and take notes.

So, what does “accessible” mean for users?

For individuals with disabilities, the Internet can play a significant role in their day-to-day life. Some use it to connect with friends, stay updated on worldwide news and even use it to order supplies or to have groceries delivered to their home. Essentially, the Internet is what allows many of these individuals to have independence. There are few privileges greater than having the ability to connect with the world and achieve tasks from the comfort of your own home. However, when disability barriers occur on the websites these individuals want or need to use, it creates both a problem and a civil rights issue.

Below, we offer resources to help you quickly become familiar with web accessibility concepts and an introduction to how ADA law is working.

Learn About Web Accessibility Standards

Are You New To Accessibility? What Does “Accessible” Mean?

If you are new to accessibility compliance standards, this is a good place to start.

Basic Web Accessibility Compliance Concepts

Are You Being Proactive?

Being proactive is a great step and tends to greatly reduce potential penalties.

I Want to be Proactive

Received a Letter?

If you have a received a letter of complaint, there are steps that can be taken.

I’ve Received a Letter

Are You at Risk?

Find out if you are currently at risk by failing to comply with WCAG standards.

I Want to Assess Risk

How Does the Law Work?

Learn more about trends in legal activity regarding digital accessibility.

Learn About the Law

Additional ADA Law And Web Accessibility Resources

Here are some additional resources for web accessibility standards & guidelines for ADA compliance.

Web Accessibility Can Be Overwhelming

AKEA is here to guide and empower you with information so that you are prepared to take the next steps.

AKEA Will Help You Simplify Compliance

Summary of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

web standards and accessibilityThe Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was established to provide civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities. Per the ADA, a person is considered to have a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits their ability to complete one or more major life activities. Currently, the disabled community is one of the largest within the world and makes up nearly a quarter of the population in the United States. In 2010, about 56.7 million people had a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are four main groups that disabilities can fall within — hearing impairment, vision impairment, mobility impairment and cognitive impairment. Within those four groups are a variety of unique disabilities that can affect each person differently, which can make identifying the barriers they experience online difficult and hard to access.

How Does This Relate to the Internet?

The ADA developed effective communication rights for those individuals and that is where web accessibility comes into play. When a website is accessible, not only does that mean that appropriate standards were followed to comply with Web Content Accessibility Standards (WCAG 2.1), but it also signifies that individuals with disabilities were given the ability to have equal rights.

WCAG 2.1 standards were developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that works to develop web standards and practices. WCAG 2.1 standards and ADA guidelines provide recommendations on ways to ensure web content is more accessible to all, including individuals with disabilities.

Don’t Wait – Act Now!

Be Proactive

web accessibility imagesThe best way to ensure your website follows WCAG 2.1 standards is by being proactive. By being proactive, possible issues are minimized and users are able to utilize your website efficiently, thus bringing in happy, loyal customers and an increase in revenue.

When it comes to your organization, due to the increase in federal lawsuits as it relates to ADA website accessibility guidelines, legal trouble can be mitigated or avoided entirely, simply by taking proactive measures. As web accessibility compliance is required by laws and policies worldwide, it is possible to be faced with a letter of complaint or lawsuit if your organization has website barriers which prevent disabled users from fully accessing it.

The Department of Justice

The Department of Justice is aggressively defending cases of civil rights issues regarding non-compliance of web accessibility standards and guidelines. If your business is faced with a lawsuit, it is not only time-consuming but costly as well. Per an international legal firm, Seyfarth Shaw, it is expected that we will see the amount of web accessibility lawsuits filed in federal court to increase rapidly in the coming years. These types of lawsuits are not only targeting small businesses, but large organizations and corporations as well. Essentially, no one is untouchable and everyone is at risk.

Were You Caught Unprepared?

When evidence is being examined during litigation, an assessment will be done to evaluate whether you took proactive measures and to what extent those measures were implemented. The more proactive measures taken, the probability increases that the severity of the litigation process will be reduced. There are many ways to be proactive and reaching out to an experienced consulting firm is the first step.

If you think you are at risk, it is important to realize that you most likely are, but a consulting firm can work with your organization to verify the scope of the risks as a result of your current site. A consulting firm will assess if your organization is at risk due to a failure to comply with WCAG 2.1 standards and Section 508 standards of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 508 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities.

Were Any Measures Taken?

Through the use of a variety of audits, analyses and tests, they will determine if or what barriers are present. Once barriers are identified, if any, an overview is provided along with a comprehensive report. It is important to remember that even if you are one of the lucky ones who are deemed currently not at risk, that does not mean you will not be in the future. Continued proactive measures and frequent monitoring are required in order to ensure compliance in the future, as standards and web communications frequently change.

If issues were identified, it is important to address those issues immediately, especially if your organization is a public school, college, or government institution as these types of organizations are legally required to comply with WCAG 2.1. Waiting to address these issues increases your organization’s risk in more ways than one. Not only does it increase the risk of receiving a letter of complaint or lawsuit, but your reputation could also be compromised.

Letter of Complaint

If your organization has already received a letter of complaint, the good news is that no legal action has been taken yet. This provides you the opportunity to get ahead of the game and to address the issues that need to be corrected before the court takes control. It is important to engage with a consulting firm immediately to mitigate damages and to prevent the situation from progressing to a lawsuit. There have been reported cases where lawsuits were dismissed due to the active measures taken following the issuing of a letter of complaint. By allowing a consulting firm to recommend remedial actions, your organization can be protected as well.

Lawsuits and Legal Trouble

In the event your organization is already in the litigation process of a lawsuit, it is important to have the right legal team and consulting firm behind you to help decrease the negative effects of a legal case. A consulting firm can help analyze legal risks and coordinate a process to resolve the problems quickly and efficiently through technical remediation. They can also educate you throughout the process and assist your organization with developing policies and procedures to ensure you do not fall out of compliance in the future. Despite the circumstance your organization may be in, there are steps that can be taken to address risks and confirm compliance.

Let Our Web Accessibility Consultants Help You!

When seeking any type of provider to complete a service, you want the best. If you need a car repair, you want the best mechanic. If you need updates in your home or office, you want the best carpenter. This same standard can and should hold true for your web accessibility partner. At AKEA Web Solutions, we are the leading web accessibility experts and our well-rounded team can provide complete web accessibility (WCAG) consulting services.

If you think your organization may be at risk, or if you are already faced with a letter of complaint or lawsuit, we’re prepared to provide a comprehensive, worry-free plan to assist you throughout the web accessibility process. Contact us today to learn how AKEA can help.


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