Does your Website Meet ADA Guidelines?
Colin Melanson, Business Development Specialist
Back in 1990, the American Disabilities Act established a “clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities.” The Act provides broad protections in the areas of employment, public services, public accommodations and services operated by private entities and in the areas of transportation and telecommunications. While some forward-looking businesses went to work right away creating communication channels that were in compliance with these mandates others have lagged behind. In January 2018, this started to get more real for businesses with the passing of more federal regulations related to ADA.
So what does this mean? In short: “The general consensus is that any business considered a “public accommodation” should have an ADA compliant web presence. “Public accommodation” generally refers to B2C, retail, healthcare or any business the general public should be able to use, understand and access easily.” The key words: understand and access easily. When creating communications for your audiences, it’s critical to account for their different needs. Here’s a quick look at two ways to ensure section 508 compliance in digital communications: Visual Impairment: Screen readers that read text aloud enable people to get the information they need and are widely used by those with visual or cognitive impairment. When creating content to be read, keep in mind that text will be navigated differently. Be sure to test thoroughly to ensure an optimal customer experience for your website visitors. Hearing Impairment: To be inclusive of those who are hearing impaired, videos must include text-based captions to ensure people can understand the context of your messages. Since different languages and dialects affect how people hear information, it is considered a best practice to include what is actually being said in written form (in whatever language the viewer is watching the video). Bottom line: When localizing content for different countries and audiences, it’s important to follow the laws and regulations set forth and assure your web content is in compliance. Taking the time to do due diligence about the applicable regulations regarding accessibility and making sure you’re in compliance before releasing localized website content will save time and money in the long-run and enable you to provide a good experience for website visitors with different needs. For more about what is required to make your website truly accessible, consult: The Web Accessibility Initiative's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.