Tenon is a web accessibility testing tool that is known for giving flexibility for designers when evaluating a site’s accessibility. Tenon is specifically aimed at delivering flexibility in tooling for developers, designers, content providers, and testers. The program utilizes API, and it is this platform that easily integrates into your already existing toolset.
The ADA itself holds different organizations to more/less stringent standards based on a host of factors, government funding being a major one. Government agencies themselves are usually held to the most severe standards. That said, while ADA has adopted WCAG as the defacto standard, from what I’ve seen it appears they’re going with AA compliance as the most reliable one. That said, we’ve done work with some organizations who’ve chosen to comply with AAA in an effort to be as buttoned up as possible from an accessibility and experiential perspective. We’ve also worked with some who have tighter budgers and aim for level A compliance and have a more “react and repair” mindset when they discover anything in their site that is giving someone hardship from an accessibilirt standpoint.
The ADA guidelines are often updated so that businesses can better understand how various disabilities can affect the way that people will interact with websites and digital content. The guidelines also explain why certain barriers can prevent disabled individuals from using or even accessing a website. With these goals in mind, it is important to note that organizations need to review the guidelines on a yearly basis. New technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence10, are being used to help people with disabilities get the most out of the digital world. If organizations fail to read the latest ADA guidelines, then they will soon discover that their approach to web accessibility is outdated, and they might be in violation of digital accessibility laws.
The fastest, most certain way to be sure your website is in compliance is to contact a qualified web design agency and have them perform an audit of all your online properties. Make sure you interview the agency thoroughly first, as not all agencies are up to speed on ADA website compliance rules. A qualified web design firm will be able to identify any violations of ADA Website Compliance and outline a plan for updating your online content and properties.
“The idea of equal access, equal opportunity has sort of evolved in its application from brick and mortar to eCommerce. At first, many companies were worried about the desktop experience. Now, the concern extends to both smart phones and devices. Wherever a consumer accesses your content – whether it be directly through the web or an app – you need to be concerned about accessibility.”
Two agencies within the U.S. Department of Labor enforce parts of the ADA. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has coordinating authority under the employment-related provisions of the ADA. The Civil Rights Center (CRC) is responsible for enforcing Title II of the ADA as it applies to the labor- and workforce-related practices of state and local governments and other public entities. Visit the Laws & Regulations subtopic for specific information on these provisions.
Web designers often design in such a way that does not allow the user to adjust font size or color. While they may be protecting their brand, they are also inhibiting some users. Many visually impaired need to use high contrast color settings or very large fonts to read a website. Don't design your website in a way that makes it impossible for them to do this.
It is worth noting that before the settlement, Netflix attempted to argue that, due to its role as a streaming video distributor, any legal action should pertain to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which, at the time, did not call for closed captions on content that had not previously aired on US television. However, the court ruled that these two laws are not mutually exclusive and that Netflix was not protected from ADA prosecution because of compliance with the CVAA.
A simple Google Search for “Accessibility Tools” yields a number of lists and collections of tools. I could have very easily copied one or two such lists and voila, I have a new post. But, I wanted to add a personal touch to this post by writing about the tools I use in my daily job. I was surprised by the number of broken links in the lists I visited – most of them linking to obsolete Accessibility Tools such as Bobby – some with links to the old 1995 website!
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.
Pa11y is a free, open source and self-hosted program that lets you monitor as many sites as you need and run tests automatically daily. It assists by generating reports of web accessibility evaluation results, automatically checking single web pages, groups of web pages or sites, as well as password protected or restricted pages. The license is open source, and users can test the program through the demo included on the Pa11y site. The supported formats include CSS, HTML, and Images. The service is specifically an online checker as well as server installation.
Released on January 1, 2007, the guidelines covered by this program include WCAG 2.0 — W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, WCAG 1.0—W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Section 508, and U.S. federal procurement standards. The program generates reports of evaluation results and provides step-by-step evaluation guidance on these results.
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.
UPDATE: Since writing this post in August 2017, several important changes have taken place in the laws regarding ADA compliance for websites. On December 26, 2017, the Department of Justice announced that they have withdrawn the Obama-era Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking mentioned in this article which intended to require ADA website compliance. The DOJ’s withdrawal announcement stated, “The Department will continue to assess whether specific technical standards are necessary and appropriate to assist covered entities with complying with the ADA.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was first passed in 1990. Twenty years later, the US Department of Justice released an update called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. These standards cover the design of physical spaces and have been interpreted to include web locations as well, so it can be difficult for the would-be accessible website designer to use them.
When you’re thinking about ADA web compliance, remember that it applies to more than just the desktop computer environment. Mobile devices are growing in popularity every year, and mobile commerce has gained a foothold in the economy. If your website is accessible on a computer, but barriers intrude when it’s viewed in a mobile environment, then it is still considered discrimination, and it’s a violation of the ADA.
Distinguishable: To assist color-blind users and those with other visual impairments, color is never used as the sole means of conveying information or prompting the user. Audio lasting more than 3 seconds can be paused, or the volume can be controlled independently of the system volume. Regular text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1, and large text has a contrast ratio of at least 3:1. In addition, text can be resized up to 200 percent without causing issues with the website.
Now you know that some types of content and format on webpages can pose barriers for people with disabilities. The next steps are to develop an action plan to fix web content that is currently inaccessible and implement procedures to ensure that all new and modified web content is accessible. The website accessibility checklist included in this section helps you assess what needs to be done.
A few of these accessible features are provided in a checklist in the DOJ publication, “ADA Best Practices Tool Kit State and Local Governments.”5 One example in the list is written captions for online audio files, so that people who cannot hear the audio can understand what is being said. Another example is descriptive text (known as “alt text”) for all image files, so people with vision disabilities who are using screen readers can understand what’s in the images.
Many government services and activities are also provided on websites because the public is able to participate in them at any time of day and without the assistance of government personnel. Many government websites offer a low cost, quick, and convenient way of filing tax returns, paying bills, renewing licenses, signing up for programs, applying for permits or funding, submitting job applications, and performing a wide variety of other activities.
eSSENTIAL Accessibility has developed a comprehensive accessibility solution to help organizations follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and achieve and maintain compliance with ADA standards and ADA regulations. This includes integrating web compliance evaluation services with assistive technology to deliver a transformative experience for people with disabilities.
Pa11y is a program offered through the Nature Publishing Group. It monitors the web accessibility of your web sites with the pa11y-dashboard specifically. The most recent version 1.6.0 was released on April 8, 2015, and it covers guidelines including WCAG 2.0 — W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Section 508, and U.S. federal procurement standards.
This program is offered through UserLight Ltd, which verifies web accessibility on mobile sites on an iOS device, such as iPhone or iPad. Once verified, the evaluation findings can be exported via Google Spreadsheets or CSV. The program generates reports of the evaluation results but also provides step-by-step evaluation guidance. Mobile Web Accessibility Checker checks single web pages, groups of web pages or sites, as well as password protected or restricted pages.
The statement that “noncompliance with a voluntary technical standard for website accessibility does not necessarily indicate noncompliance with the ADA” is new and significant. It is a recognition that a website may be accessible and usable by the blind without being fully compliant with the privately developed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 or 2.1. The statement confirms what some courts have said so far: That the operative legal question in a website accessibility lawsuit is not whether the website conforms with WCAG, but whether persons with disabilities are able to access to a public accommodation’s goods, services, and benefits through the website, or some alternative fashion.
Another federal agency, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB), also known as the Access Board, issues guidelines to ensure that buildings, facilities and transit vehicles are accessible to people with disabilities. The Guidelines & Standards issued under the ADA and other laws establish design requirements for the construction and alteration of facilities. These standards apply to places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities.
Input Assistance: When users are entering input into the website, any input errors are automatically detected and written out, providing, for instance, text descriptions that identify fields that were not filled out or data that was in the wrong format. The website also provides suggestions to fix the errors. Input fields and buttons are labeled to provide their functions and instructions. If the user’s input is being used for legal purposes or financial transactions, then the user must be able to reverse submissions or correct errors.
These and other types of multimedia can present two distinct problems for people with different disabilities. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can generally see the information presented on webpages. But a deaf person or someone who is hard of hearing may not be able to hear the audio track of a video. On the other hand, persons who are blind or have low vision are frequently unable to see the video images but can hear the audio track.
Tools do exist that assist website developers in making their sites more accessible for those with disabilities. Browsers are also key in web accessibility. The challenge is designing a site and software that meets different users’ needs, preferences and situations. Web accessibility also can benefit those without disabilities, specifically those with a temporary disability such as a broken arm, aging, and slow Internet connections. The accessibility testing tool you should use depends on your site’s needs and budget among many other factors.
WAVE is a tool developed by WebAIM that is available both online and as a Firefox add-on. It reports accessibility violations by annotating a copy of the page that was evaluated and at the same time, providing recommendations on how to repair them. Rather than providing a complex technical report, WAVE shows the original Web page with embedded icons and indicators that reveal the accessibility information within your page.