Additional Resources for Web AccessibilityCompliance
Web accessibility standards and guidelines are established to provide equal access for people with disabilities to web content and applications. Web content that is accessible on all devices to all people is optimal; for a website to be deemed accessible, it is required to meet meeting one or more pre-established standards. Learn more through customized ADA Compliance Training.
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act became a civil rights law. Discrimination against people with disabilities, in all avenues of public life including school, jobs, transportation and all private and public places that are open to the general public, is prohibited under this law. The law was established to ensure that equal rights and opportunities are afforded to individuals regardless of whether or not they have a disability. Civil rights protections are provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines to people with disabilities similar to the protections issued to people based on race, sex, color, or religion.
The ADA guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities within employment, transportation, public accommodations, local and state government services and telecommunications.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines protects the rights of “qualified individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities, and services of public entities” whether in state or local government. It calls for the modification of the administrative activities, practices, and procedures where deemed necessary to prohibit discrimination.
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines emphasize that “reasonable modifications” must be made on existing and new private businesses in the “public accommodation” industries to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Title III guidelines apply to privately owned, leased or operated entities such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, golf-courses, doctor clinics, health clubs, and many more.
Furthermore, Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines requires telephone and Internet companies to implement a nationwide system that allows people with hearing and speech impairments to communicate over the telephone. Closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements is also required under this title, regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, requiring federal agencies to allow their electronic and information technology (EIT) to be accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 applies to all federal agencies when they procure, develop, maintain, or use electronic information technology, such as computer software, phone systems and websites. Additionally, under this law, agencies are required to provide disabled employees and members of the public equal access to information that would be available to others. The U.S. Access Board issues these standards and continuously updates and revises them to match changes in technology, as well as to unify WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international team which develops web standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and (WCAG) 2.1. W3C’s goal is to allow the world wide web to achieve its full potential by creating protocols and guidelines to provide for long-term growth of the web. W3C’s involvement includes participation, sharing knowledge and building a global reputation. Through its web accessibility initiative, W3C enables human communication and offers opportunities to gain and share knowledge regardless of language, culture, physical, or level of mental ability.
WCAG 2.1 includes various recommendations for providing accessible web content. By following these guidelines, people with disabilities have equal access to content on desktops, laptops, mobile devices and tablets. These guidelines are updated to align with continuously changing technology; the most recent set of guidelines are organized within four principles of testable success criteria.
These principles are Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. 3 levels of conformance are offered with each principle, including level A, AA and AAA, with level A being the most basic requirements and level AAA having the highest level of accessibility. Currently, the United States is in the process of blending WCAG 2.1 guidelines and Section 508 to create one standard for all web and desktop applications.
International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) is a registered non-profit professional association for accessibility professionals. The association, founded in 2014, was established to connect professionals working in web accessibility and facilitate the expansion of their professional networks.
IAAP is also heavily invested in providing accessibility resources and education to allow organizations to learn more about web accessibility and, ultimately, to help those organizations establish an accessible web presence within all of their digital environments.
Members of the IAAP are dedicated and passionate professionals all seeking to create an accessible Internet for all users. Member organizations include many verticals in industry, the private sector, higher education and government.
There are various accessibility issues that create an unpleasant user experience and create difficulty for users with disabilities, as a result of their inability to access content. This list of common issues can be utilized by content managers or developers to assess website content and functionality. All of the following issues listed below are critical issues for people with blindness, low vision, color-blindness, motor impairments, deafness and cognitive impairments, as they rely on web accessibility for their independence.
Factors to Consider for Web Accessibility
Standards for best-practice HTML coding are provided by WCAG 2.1 guidelines. Correct coding allows disabled individuals to utilize various assistance technologies to access content. Correct coding must confirm that all non-text coding also has text form availability. Text must be able to re-sized and accessed through the use of keyboard-only commands.
Content is key when it comes to web accessibility. Page titles, text content, headings and link text should all be accounted for when developing a website.
Websites are accessed on a variety of devices with tools such as a mouse, keyboard, or screen reader software. When forms are inaccessible, a user is unable to navigate its components or submit the form. Sequences should be meaningful and the form should be keyboard-operable.
The 5th major revision of HTML language which is the primary language of the web.
Image accessibility should include alternative text for content-related and presentational images. It is important to not rely on color alone, avoid using images to display text, strobe effects and images that have insufficient contrast.
People with disabilities are often unable to access online maps, thus a long description must be provided in text or HTML form. Ensuring high contrast colors and not relying on color to separate different parts of the maps, provides increased accessibility.
Keyboard Only Navigation
Keyboard accessibility provides access without the use of a mouse. For many users, keyboard-only commands are their only form of navigation. There are various ways to avoid keyboard traps; the use of keys such as ‘TAB’, ‘SHIFT’ and ‘CONTROL’ allows users to access content, forms and interactive features.
Users rely on the logical order of website headings to navigate it successfully. Providing a natural keyboard order and avoiding changes in context provide a better overall experience.
Mobile devices are used as frequently as laptops, thus creating a need for mobile accessibility. When conducting mobile testing, the developer must identify what needs to be tested and conduct specific mobile tests based on the devices and browser combinations.
PDFs and Digital Documents
A PDF is a Portable Document Format; incorporating accessibility to PDFs provides a better experience for the user. It is recommended that PDFs should always have an accessible alternative, such as Word, Text, or HTML.
Data tables and layout tables often encounter accessibility barriers due to incorrect use, headers not coded correctly and tables being offered that have no meaning. Correct use of tables is required in order for screen reader software to access its content.
Video and Media
Video accessibility provides the opportunity for a person with a disability to understand an online video. Screen reader software is a common tool to assist people with disabilities from accessing videos. In order to be accessible, accessibility must be considered when developing the content and converting it to web use.
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