Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that some businesses and nonprofit services providers make accessibility accommodations to enable the disabled to access the same services as clients who are able. This includes electronic media and web sites. While the ADA applies to businesses with 15 or more employees, some smaller businesses web sites can benefit from being ADA compliant. Any business that is considered a “place of public accommodation” is required to provide equal access to services under the nondiscrimination requirements of Title III of ADA. Having an ADA site opens your company up to more potential clients and limits liability. Web developers should consider including ADA compliant features in the original site.
This is particularly important when working for a government agency or government contractor, as these organizations must follow web accessibility guidelines under Section 508 of the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Although ADA and Section 508 compliance are different, the published checklist for Section 508 compliance offers insight into ways to make websites accessible for people with disabilities, and thereby work toward ADA compliance.
WCAG 2.0 AA is generally accepted as a recommended standard, however the current standard is WCAG 2.1. Be aware that, if you do business outside of the US, other countries may have their own set of accessibility standards that exceed WCAG 2.1 or have special requirements.
Educate yourself about Web Accessibility — and remember this is a complex subject with a moving target.
Start testing your web pages with an accessibility tool such as WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool). They also have browser plugins for testing content locally or in secure locations.
Overview of the Financial Penalties of AODA Non-Compliance
Ontario businesses that don’t prioritize accessibility may soon face significant penalties. Enacted in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires all public websites and web content to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA, excepting criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions).
That requirement applies to all web content dating back to 2012 — not just new content — including mobile apps that rely on the internet to operate. Businesses must also file a compliance report; the filing deadline was set for Dec. 31, 2020, but has been extended to June 30, 2021.
January 29, 2021 – President Joe Biden’s administration has revamped the official Whitehouse.gov website, implementing new features intended to improve access for people with disabilities. The redesigned site contains an accessibility statement detailing the administration’s goals.
WordPress Sites Aren’t Automatically Accessible
January 21, 2021 – WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in existence, currently used by nearly 40 percent of all websites according to the W3Techs’ Web Technology Survey. The platform is powerful, versatile, and flexible — but WordPress sites aren’t automatically accessible, even when site owners make a good-faith effort to take the right steps, which is a surprise to some. (Full Article)
Why Digital Accessibility Should Be a Priority in Employment – August 25, 2020
Business owners sometimes think of accessibility as an impediment — a series of tasks that must be undertaken to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and to ensure that employees don’t face discrimination. After the hiring process is finished, the responsibility is largely over; the company has fulfilled its basic obligation to its workers. Simple, right?
Not quite. It’s true that for any company with 15 or more employees, ADA compliance in employment is mandatory, and discriminatory practices can result in serious consequences. But hiring an employee with disabilities doesn’t prevent discrimination in the workplace or empower that worker to perform their job.
To build a better business — and enjoy the sizable benefits of an accessible work environment — employers need to treat accessibility as a priority. That’s especially true considering the changing economy. More employees are working from home than ever before, which means that they’re relying on different types of technologies to handle everyday tasks. For people with cognitive and physical impairments, these changes can bring new challenges, and employers need to be prepared to address potential issues.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides guidance to help businesses avoid violations. However, as we frequently note, decision makers need to treat accessibility as a mindset, not a checklist — especially when day-to-day work tasks change suddenly and dramatically… (Full article)
Every image, video file, audio file, plug-in, etc. has an alt tag
Complex graphics are accompanied by detailed text descriptions
The alt descriptions describe the purpose of the objects
If an image is also used as a link, make sure the alt tag describes the graphic and the link destination
Decorative graphics with no other function have empty alt descriptions (alt= “”)
Add captions to videos
Add audio descriptions
Create text transcript
Create a link to the video rather than embedding it into web pages
Add a link to the media player download
Add an additional link to the text transcript
The page should provide alternative links to the Image Map
The <area> tags must contain an alt attribute
Data tables have the column and row headers appropriately identified (using the <th> tag)
Tables used strictly for layout purposes do NOT have header rows or columns
Table cells are associated with the appropriate headers (e.g. with the id, headers, scope and/or axis HTML attributes)
Make sure the page does not contain repeatedly flashing images
Check to make sure the page does not contain a strobe effect
A link is provided to a disability-accessible page where the plug-in can be downloaded
All Java applets, scripts and plug-ins (including Acrobat PDF files and PowerPoint files, etc.) and the content within them are accessible to assistive technologies, or else an alternative means of accessing equivalent content is provided
When form controls are text input fields use the LABEL element
When text is not available use the title attribute
Include any special instructions within field labels
Make sure that form fields are in a logical tab order
Include a ‘Skip Navigation’ button to help those using text readers
(Courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) If the site meets all these criteria, it is likely ADA accessible. The best test is to obtain feedback on the site’s ease of use from people who are blind, deaf, and have mobility disabilities, then address their feedback with site improvements.
Web developers need to keep this in mind when creating websites. The best screen readers use naturalized voices and alter tone and inflection based on HTML tags, so choose layout elements carefully. It is also important to keep in mind that navigation is significantly slower when using a screen reader than it is for sighted people. Sighted people don’t have to wait for the reader to get to the link we want, unlike an ADA compliant menus. Minimizing graphics also helps shorten reading times and speed navigation for disabled users. http://www.natlawreview.com/article/your-website-ada-compliant https://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/preliminary
Section 508 – Added to Rehabilitation Act of 1986 / 1998 – Mandatory for Federal Web SIte ADA – American Disabilities Act (1990) – Public Accommodation – 2017 is set as ‘Inactive Action’ WCAG – 3 levels of compliance A, AA, AAA – Perceivable, Operable, Understandable & Robust Common Pitfalls –
PERCEIVABLEs – Not using alt tags, not using subtitles / audio descriptions for videos, poorly created PDFs, OPERABLE – Keyboard functionality, links should be more than ‘Learn More’ UNDERSTANDABLE – Missing HTML language attribute, Forms missing labels / ARIA ties.
Simply have an Accessibility Plan – Good color usage, Forms, Audio descriptions, captions, etc. KISS – Test, Test, Test (SiteImprove, WAVE) – IMPROVING Web Design should be usable by ALL people, ALL browsers, ALL screens. Long lasting benefits of usability – Ease of Mind for all people – Increase User Base – Good for SEO (Tags, transcripts, etc.) – Increased Conversions
Accessible Themes – Found in the Repository (Very Good) Premium Themes – The closest in the Genesis framework.
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4 Principles of ADA Compliance
The four principles involved are that websites must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, or POUR. Within each principle are guidelines, and within each guideline are techniques and failure examples.
Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses)
Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
Make it easier for users to see and hear content.
Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)
Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
Give users enough time to read and use content.
Do not use content that causes seizures.
Help users navigate and find content.
Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding)
Make text readable and understandable.
Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)
Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
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What Businesses Need to Have an ADA Compliant Website?
Any business that is considered a “place of public accommodation” is required to provide equal access to services under the nondiscrimination requirements of Title III of ADA. When you look at the guidelines closely, this includes hotels, entertainment venues, legal and accounting firms, retail stores, and virtually every business that is not a private club, including businesses that exist solely on the web.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has specifically stated in rulings that websites should be designed so they are accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing, and physical disabilities. There’s a growing body of case law where the DOJ required companies to provide an ADA compliant website and levied hefty penalties when sites failed to measure up.
And ADA compliance isn’t limited to websites. A recent ruling against an online grocery delivery company established the need for mobile apps to meet similar accessibility standards. Businesses need to consider every aspect of their web presence to ensure they are providing an exceptional user experience with access for all.
While there are legal considerations that make having an ADA compliant website a solid business decision, it’s also just a matter of good customer relations.
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WHO DECIDES IF A WEBSITE IS ACCESSIBLE?
September 10, 2019 10:27:00 AM EDT
Web accessibility is a hot topic and it’s here to stay — but with so many organizations learning and implementing its guiding principles and best practices, who actually gets to decide whether or not a website is accessible?
DOES THE DEVELOPER DECIDE IF A WEBSITE IS ACCESSIBLE?
Developers play an important role in achieving web accessibility. After all, it’s their code that impacts everything, so there’s little doubt that when developers are trained in how to create accessible websites everything will run more smoothly.
However, it is not the developer who decides if a website is accessible. It is true that some developers may have more accessibility expertise and some may be assistive technology users themselves, but ultimate determination of website accessibility doesn’t fall on the developer alone.
DOES AUTOMATED TESTING DECIDE IF A WEBSITE IS ACCESSIBLE?
Automated testing has made it possible to scan large amounts of material quickly and generate reports on accessibility violations. It’s fast and sophisticated, and it should be part of a well-rounded accessibility testing strategy.
However, automated testing is not enough to demonstrate accessibility compliance. Organizations who rely on automated testing alone put themselves at risk — these scans can both miss many significant issues and detect issues that have no impact on the actual accessibility of a website. Absolutely use automated tests in your larger plan, but no, automated testing cannot decide if a website is accessible.
DOES THE HUMAN TESTER DECIDE IF A WEBSITE IS ACCESSIBLE?
Accessibility subject matter experts (SMEs) who manually test websites have the knowledge to identify accessibility issues on web pages and within custom use cases. They can also recommend thoughtful and specific remediation methods for bringing content into accessibility compliance. Depending on how their role fits into the organization, accessibility SMEs may very well be the ones making the decisions about how accessible a website is and whether it is acceptable to publish.
However, as vital as they are to the process, as important as their knowledge and expertise are to guiding others toward accessibility, even accessibility SMEs do not get to truly decide if a website is accessible.
DOES THE INDIVIDUAL USING IT DECIDE IF A WEBSITE IS ACCESSIBLE?
Something is accessible when people can use it and only when people can use it. At the end of the day, a developer’s belief that a website is accessible doesn’t help the person who is finding out they can’t do what they came to do, just as an accessibility report showing everything has passed matters little to the person who faces an accessibility barrier right now.
So it is the customer visiting your website that decides if it is accessible. The fact is that while every reasonable effort should be made to achieve accessibility compliance, there will come a time when someone is unable to read or do or use something.
Supreme Court OKs Blind Man’s Lawsuit Against Dominos Pizza…You’ll Never Guess Why
Guillermo Robles is the man who is suing Dominos pizza for one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard since suing McDonald’s because their food made them fat, or because they burned themselves on hot coffee not knowing it was hot.
Robles is in the process of suing the pizza chain because its website and mobile app were not accessible to people with disabilities such as himself.
This is a lawsuit that has been going on for three years now after he was unable to order a pizza. The guy could have just picked up the phone and called it in, but who am I, right? (FULL ARTICLE)
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Despite Americans with Disabilities Act, websites are often inaccessible to the impaired
Many of the headlines began the same way: “Blind man sues Playboy …”
That’s page view gold for news websites.
Stories breathlessly detailed Donald Nixon’s lawsuit claiming the Playboy website lacks compatibility with screen reading software, including “alt text” used for photo descriptions.
That was in November 2018.
Would the reaction have been the same if the lawsuit targeted websites with crucial public policy information? Take the websites for all of the 2020 presidential candidates, for example.
Voters with disabilities who try to begin making informed decisions about presidential candidates may be stymied when visiting any websites for candidates of both parties.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016, about 12.9% of the population has some form of disability. Add to that aging baby boomers who may have reduced vision, hearing and mobility. Their digital door to the world is often closed.
Organizations claim to support diversity with lofty mission statements. They profess to want diverse students, employees, suppliers, customers, constituents and voters. Yet their websites fail to fulfill those goals.
Similarly, state and municipal governments face lawsuits for inaccessible meeting agendas, records and other documents. The misguided solution, in some cases, has been to remove all documents to avoid the risk.
A recent analysis of the home pages of the top 1 million websites using international guidelines revealed accessibility errors on over 97% of those pages.
In 2018 there were over 2,200 lawsuits filed against businesses and organizations for violating Title III of the ADA.
The web is supposed to be accessible
I learned first-hand how the internet is a window to the world while I was recovering from a near-fatal accident almost 20 years ago when the internet was in its infancy. The web allowed me to explore and participate in a way that would have been impossible prior to the internet. That’s one of the reasons I started my business — I knew the web could make the world a fairer, more responsible place.
In comparison to brick and mortar properties, websites require less effort and expense to be made accessible.
For years, automatic doors, elevators, and braille on keypads, to name a few things, have provided everyone access to brick-and-mortar businesses. Prior to the passage of the ADA, there was no internet as we know it today. That doesn’t negate the need to offer equal access for all website users.
Accessibility Poetry – WordPress Accessibility Plugin that provide solutions to common accessibility issues in websites. can help you keep your website more in line with the WCAG 2 and to expose your website to people with disabilities. What does the plugin include? Accessibility Toolbar with buttons to change the font size, contrast, etc.
Website Accessibility Under Title II of the ADA – Link
Problem: Images Without Text Equivalents Solution: Add a text description to every image using the img alt tag.
Problem: Documents Are Not Posted In an Accessible Format Solution: Adobe PDF files are screen reader compliant – IF they are in text format. You should avoid using documents that have been scanned, if at all possible. Those that have been scanned need OCR to convert content into text format. A few resources to help with that are here and here.
Problem: Specifying Colors and Font Sizes Solution: Allow your font size and color to be adjusted within a user’s browser or use universal not specialty fonts.
Problem: Videos and Other Multimedia Lack Accessible Features Solution: Include detailed descriptions of all non-text resources on your websites, captions for your videos and when possible full transcriptions.
Problem: Forms and Site Navigation are Hard or Impossible for Impaired Users to Navigate Solution: Make each field accessible by labeling each website element with a descriptive HTML tag. If the link is image based, be sure to describe it using the title=”description” variable on the anchor tag.
Problem: Users Need Alternatives to Essential Web based Information Solution: Clearly post alternative contact details your website visitors can use to gain access to all essential information in an ADA friendly way.
Other ADA Accessibility Notes YouTube – Subtitles / Transcripts are also required. Use good design practices and structure – H1s/ H2s, etc. Alt tags, etc.