People with disabilities are all around us. They live in every country and often experience life in a very different manner than those individuals who don’t have emotional, mental, or physical disabilities. In fact, 15 percent of the global population is classified as disabled. Of this 15 percent, an estimated 190 million people experience significant disabilities.¹
While legal considerations might be your biggest worry, making your site more accessible is simply good customer service. More than 39 million Americans are blind and another 246 million have "low vision," Another one million are deaf in the U.S. Add to that people with mobility issues that prevent them from using their hands and that's a huge portion of the country's buying power.
The Justice Dept. said it would issue new regulations, so most businesses waited to see what they would say. However, Vu believes it will be a while before the new regulations are released because of what the Justice Dept. said in a recent case. MIT and Harvard were sued over captioning of videos, and the schools wanted the judge to stay the case until the new regulations were released. The Justice Dept. told the judge not to stay the case because the new regulations could take a while to be released.
We compared the Google website analytics from July of 2015 to July of 2017, after the launch of VisionCorps’ new website. Their redesign not only made the site ADA compliant, but also optimized the website for better search engine rankings and user experience. The redesign helped increase the number of visitors coming to the website on a monthly basis, the amount of time a visitor spends on the site, and the number of pages viewed in total. Here are the results.
Meanwhile, the Justice Dept. enforcement team is doing cramdowns over web sites and mobile apps. For example, PeaPod grocery delivery service, which Vu assisted when the Justice Dept. gave them a hard time. In addition, H&R Block was sued by the National Federation of the Blind and the Justice Dept. became a plaintiff in the case — H&R Block complied.
Predictable: Websites should operate in ways that are familiar and predictable. When a new page element is in focus, the website should not initiate a change of context such as opening a new window or going to a new page. In addition, the website should warn of user-initiated changes of context ahead of time, for instance through the use of a submit button. Navigation and labeling should remain consistent between different pages.
This particular lawsuit amounted to nothing more than a shakedown for cash, as the current laws would make it difficult to win the suit in court (more about this later) but it prompted me to dive deeper into the issue of ADA compliance. Through my research, I discovered there are some new laws on the horizon that could make ADA compliance mandatory, which means web designers and digital marketers need to know how to prepare.
When you insert an image into a post or page, consider providing a rich description for the caption that will improve the reading experience for everyone, but especially folks who can’t see the image. Be creative. Instead of “My son on his swing,” try “My son is playing on his favorite swing. His face is filled with pure joy on a beautiful Spring day. Perfection.” The goal here is to convey the feeling of the image.
Read our case study of VisionCorps, ‘The Importance of ADA Website Compliance,’ to realize first-hand the impact an accessible website can have, and see real-world examples of ADA website compliance. VisionCorps’ total page views increased 157.64% after redesigning their website to be ADA compliant. Get more facts and figures by reading the case study now.
In addition, aids and services include a wide variety of technologies including 1) assistive listening systems and devices; 2) open captioning, closed captioning, real-time captioning, and closed caption decoders and devices; 3) telephone handset amplifiers, hearing-aid compatible telephones, text telephones (TTYs) , videophones, captioned telephones, and other voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products; 4) videotext displays; 5) screen reader software, magnification software, and optical readers; 6) video description and secondary auditory programming (SAP) devices that pick up video-described audio feeds for television programs; 7) accessibility features in electronic documents and other electronic and information technology that is accessible (either independently or through assistive technology such as screen readers) .
Regarding examples of accessible websites, I would suggest the Accessiweb gallery: http://www.accessiweb.org/index.php/galerie.html. Accessiweb is a reference list 100% based on WCAG2, and they deliver quality marks (the "Accessiweb label") upon website owners solicitation. The website undergoes a thorough manual review (on a carefully defined 10-page sample, more or less), and it gets the label only if it's flawless on every page. The level is reflective of the number of defects found and not corrected. Bronze is exactly equivalent to level A, Silver to AA, and Gold to AAA. So getting a Silver label means all A and AA tests were passed on all of the sample. Bronze, two stars: All A tests were passed, plus 50 to 75% AA tests. And so on.
More than 1 billion people live with disabilities; over 57 million reside in the United States, many of whom are unable to participate in everyday activities, such as using computers, mobile phones, tablets, and similar technologies. Devices that should help to improve quality of life for disabled individuals often become a source of frustration due to the inaccessibility of websites. By making your website ADA compliant, you will gain a new and loyal revenue source, and minimize the possibility of legal action against your company.
Vu said that she gets one question all the time: What are the legal standards? There is no legal standard, but there are guidelines out there: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), version 2.0, with 3 levels of conformity: A, AA, AAA. They were put out by W3C. Companies can use those guidelines. The Justice Dept. uses the A and AA levels.
It’s most outward feature is a font size and color contract toolbar that helps users more easily read your content. But it also does a lot of behind-the-scenes work like adding skip-to-content links, implementing an outline to the link :focus state for better keyboard navigation, utilizing longdesc for images and a whole lot more. Each feature can be turned on or off through a settings page.
This guidance document is not intended to be a final agency action, has no legally binding effect, and may be rescinded or modified in the Department's complete discretion, in accordance with applicable laws. The Department's guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities beyond what is required by the terms of the applicable statutes, regulations, or binding judicial precedent.