Disabilities covered under the ADA can be physical (e.g., muscular dystrophy, dwarfism, etc.), sensory (e.g., blindness, deafness, deaf-blindness), or cognitive (e.g., Down Syndrome). In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act broadened the scope of how disability is legally defined: psychological, emotional, and physiological conditions are now included.
Until the ADA is updated to address the special case of website accessibility, or the Department of Justice releases its website accessibility regulations, complying with WCAG 2.0 Level AA is the best way to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to your website. The overview below is a great starting point about meeting the WCAG 2.0 Level AA recommendations.
Your site would need to have a text only option, with all functionality accessible through a keyboard for visitors with mobility issues. Once you make these and other changes to meet ADA guidelines, your site would need to be tested by a website development company familiar with ADA compliance issues to be sure that visitors who use assistive technology such as screen readers are able to access your web content fully.
Accessibility Checker is an open source accessibility evaluation tool that was developed in 2009 by the Inclusive Design Research Centre (formerly known as the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre) of the University of Toronto. Using this tool, the user can submit a web page via its URL or by uploading its HTML file and can subsequently select which guidelines to evaluate it against, namely the HTML Validator, BITV, Section 508 , Stanca Act, WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0.
CommonLook PDF Global Access offered by NetCentric Technologies is another web accessibility for PDF documents programs, authored by Adobe Acrobat. The specific format supported is PDF documents or files. CommonLook is a well-known choice for professional PDF web accessibility remediation, and licenses are available for both commercial and enterprise bases.
The A11Y Compliance Platform is offered through the Bureau of Internet Accessibility. The platform gives tools, reports and services to help companies and organizations maintain and defend the web site’s accessibility and integrity. The standards and guidelines that are used in this platform include Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Section 508 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). How it works is each client is assigned a dedicated Client Manager who oversees their site. This manager takes on all aspects of the project, and this includes identifying the client’s specific needs and ensuring that milestones are met during the Audit. They offer dedicated attention to the company and serve as the experts who can help navigate them through the complex requirements. The most recent version, Version 5, Release 3.4 was released in November 2013. The platform generates reports of evaluation results, and the offered managers will help go through these results in a step-by-step fashion. The platform will automatically check single web pages as well as groups of web pages or websites. This is a web-based, online, hosted service, and licensing is available for commercial and enterprise. Supported formats include CSS, HTML, XHTML, SVG, PDF, Images, and SMIL.
The Department has assembled an official online version of the 2010 Standards to bring together the information in one easy-to-access location. It provides the scoping and technical requirements for new construction and alterations resulting from the adoption of revised 2010 Standards in the final rules for Title II (28 CFR part 35) and Title III (28 CFR part 36).
Webpage designers often have aesthetic preferences and may want everyone to see their webpages in exactly the same color, size and layout. But because of their disability, many people with low vision do not see webpages the same as other people. Some see only small portions of a computer display at one time. Others cannot see text or images that are too small. Still others can only see website content if it appears in specific colors. For these reasons, many people with low vision use specific color and font settings when they access the Internet – settings that are often very different from those most people use. For example, many people with low vision need to use high contrast settings, such as bold white or yellow letters on a black background. Others need just the opposite – bold black text on a white or yellow background. And, many must use softer, more subtle color combinations.
Cynthia Says is a program offered through HiSoftware that helps users identify the web accessibility compliance errors in their site, allowing them to test their individual pages on their site through the Cynthia Says portal and providing feedback in a format that is easy to understand for even the least tech savvy users. The portal is part of a joint education and outreach of Cryptzone, ICDRI, and the Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter, educating users in the concepts behind web site accessibility.
There is much to be gained by improving the usability of your website or app in a mobile environment. The Total Retail Survey 2017 by Pricewaterhouse Coopers found that about a quarter (24%) of all online shoppers in the U.S. believe mobile sites are not easy to use.10 In 2018, Brizfeel conducted a survey of 30,000 consumers, and discovered that 49% of online shoppers were using mobile phones. Despite that, 63% of online consumers preferred using desktop computers, due to the mobile experience.11 When an accessible mobile site or app meets ADA requirements, it’s easier for everyone to use. It reduces the frustration of all consumers, not just those with disabilities.
The program can be run from your desktop computer, command line, or via Google Chrome or Firefox add-ons. It assists by generating reports of these five evaluation results, and reports are supported in HTML format. Browser plugins supported include both Google Chrome and Firefox. Total Validator automatically checks single web pages, groups of web pages or websites, and password protected or restricted pages. Supported formats include HTML and XHTML. The most recent version 8.5 was released on August 3, 2014, and licensing is free as well as in commercial format.
Hey OB – Disclaimer – none of this is legal advice and you’d want to check with a lawyer to know if you’re at risk for any action if you’re not ADA compliant. Based on what we’ve seen if you don’t have a physical retail or service location, and you don’t receive any funding from the government you likely aren’t required to have a website that would be considered compliant. Some people expect that to change in the next few years, but that’s what we know for now. Let us know if you have more questions or would like to test your site.