On the 26th of July, 1990, former US President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. Its top priority was to avoid discrimination due to a person’s disability. Like its predecessor, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which focused on race, color, sex, national origin, and religion, ADA made unjust treatment of people with disabilities illegal and punishable by law. Today, it’s had a significant impact on American society. Public buildings, transportation, schools and even jobs are required to follow the ADA Guidelines and Checklists. People with disabilities now have the opportunity to be on equal footing with the average individuals. Additionally, with the advent of the Internet, ADA has been extended to the World Wide Web.
In recent years, more and more websites have sprouted, and most of them were created with little to no thought about people who have disabilities. Take note that progressively, website owners and developers are being brought into court due to non-compliance. It is crucial to go over the ADA Compliance very carefully to avoid lengthy and expensive legal battles.
Thinking of ways to make a website adaptable to a person with disability can be difficult, especially if one has no experience or has had no interaction with such person. However, guidelines can be acquired online or by calling the United States’ Department of Justice and Civil Rights Division. There is also the Assistive Technology used by people with disability. These tools make their lives more comfortable and easier. With the progress of this technology, all they need to do is tweak the website around with the help of these devices and ensure that the contents are compatible with these helpful tools.
The following are some things to consider before going public with an upcoming website. At the end of this article, you’ll find it could be somewhat easy to get a check mark on the ADA compliancy test.
The website’s design itself can be a very difficult obstacle to maneuver. Make sure that the website layout is not too complex; have the options for adjustments. Let website readers or visitors have the option to adjust the size or color of certain parts such as text, font, and even images. The requirement by the ADA is a resizable ability of up to 200% from the original size.
Favor bigger fonts for titles, headings, menus, and banners. The font size is relevant for those who have vision impairments such as blurry visions. The Bigger size will enable them to read better and with less strain.
The color is also important. Design texts that are easy to spot. The texts should not be consumed with the background color rendering it difficult to read. Moreover, texts that are underlined must be removed. This gives the impression that the text is a link to another page or website.
Audio and Video
For audios, videos, and images, the best way to make them compliant is through captioning. Add texts to images. Detailed descriptions are also required, these will be useful information for those who cannot see. These descriptions will be read with the help of text reader software. Video transcripts are also a good way to provide other options, especially for deaf or blind people.
Today, people with disabilities get help from sources that are available to them. Technology has made it possible to utilize the same tools to be used on the internet. We have the text-to-speech devices, closed captioning, text magnifiers, screen-reading software or optical character recognition and more. Bear in mind that most websites can utilize these tools to cater to those with disabilities. Here are some changes or enhancements that can be done:
• Provide HTML formats
This format is easy to interpret for those who are using text-to-speech or similar applications. Avoid PDFs; these documents cannot be read or recognized by optical character recognition devices. For people who are not able to use the computer mouse, a specialized keyboard can be used instead. Make sure the website can support keyboard navigation.
Skip navigation is also now available. This allows users to skip links or headings to directly go to the main content of the page without going through the whole website.
The above list already covers most of the checklist requirements. However, as most websites and other public accessible engines, a website needs to provide support. Support for the disabled is also a requirement. Here’s how:
Provide access for feedbacks
Take feedbacks from people with disability into consideration. They might contribute suggestions that could significantly improve your website.
Web developers must be ready to apply tweaks and changes whenever a requirement is not met.
Try hiring or asking people with disabilities to try the website from time to time. This ensures that the ADA conditions are being met or are still working.
Provide support by phone, email or letter. Just like feedback, questions might arise. This provides good customer support and not only is the website being compliant; this might entice more people to visit too.
Listed are just the basic things a web developer and a website owner need to contemplate about before going online. Or, if the said website is already live, follow the above steps as quickly as possible.
Web Accessibility is a program that was developed for people with disabilities. This initiative takes into consideration what most disabled people need to access websites just like how average people access them. This means the website is user-friendly both for those who are disabled and those who are not.
Most of the time, it could be very difficult to identify if a website is ADA Compliant, but rest assured, there is a simple solution to this. Most accessibility problems can be detected by a tool that is free to use and is available online like WAVE.
WAVE (wave.webaim.org) is free of charge. How does it work? Just go to the website and evaluate the
accessibility. With a little study and effort, you’ll be able to use this tool to isolate errors and adjust as needed. In any case, a live person is still the best option to detect what are missing. As mentioned earlier, asking someone with experience or has a disability would be the perfect solution.
Web developers are most likely tempted to avoid this compliance checklist. However, bear in mind that people with disabilities are also human like us. They have the right to have equal access to what regular people enjoy, and websites are one of those. And one more thing to take note of, if you are a developer or website owner who is willing to risk lawsuits so that they can skip or avoid making the lives of several million people easier? Think about it.