The American with Disabilities Act ensures that everyday life is more accessible for those with disabilities, including the internet. The ADA states that businesses with fifteen or more full-time employees that are operating for at least twenty hours a week, and companies that serve public accommodation must have ADA compliant websites. Failure to do so not only reduces the site’s accessibility to potential customers, but it can also make the company liable to lawsuits.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Unfortunately, the actual guidelines for what a website must contain to achieve such compliance are somewhat vague. Fortunately, when it comes to following ADA compliance, there is a helpful guide, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). When followed with spirit and energy, these guidelines allow for accessibility and ADA compliance.
Access for All
The WCAG states that a website should be easily perceivable to all visitors meaning users with vision issues can enlarge the text or utilize voice programs. Transcripts for audio content are also advised. The site should also be easy to navigate. This point makes sense for any website, not just one striving for ADA compliance. Easy keyboard accessibility for non-standard keyboards is an excellent example of following this guideline.
The content should also be understandable. Providing input assistance and FAQ’s are a great way to ensure the site’s content makes sense for anyone who peruses the site. The website should handle all the various interactive equipment some people may need to interact with the site. Alternate keyboard accessibility and usability is a large part of this, and ensuring a website can function properly and smoothly with such equipment is essential.
Time and Expertise
The effort required by an IT department for ADA compliance can be daunting and taxing on the servers but is an essential aspect of a business. Ensuring videos and other visual media contain transcripts and alt tags, along with other efforts to ensure accessibility, might take time. However, that is time well spent to provide a site that meets ADA compliance and thus has increased accessibility to a broader audience. Some guidelines, like an easy to follow layout for a website, are just good ideas regardless of the content or the need for compliance. The site needs to be accessible and usable to as many people as possible, using as many different devices as possible to view the content.