June 28, 2023

Accessibility: What it Means to be ADA Compliant

It’s the year 2050, you have a homemade sourdough in the oven, your vegetable garden is thriving, and you just perfected one of those dalgona whipped coffees before your back to back zoom meetings start for the day.
It’s a pretty picture that has been painted, and although it is unlikely that there will be a stay-at-home order in place several decades from now, it is quite certain that a large amount of business will be executed online.
We are becoming increasingly reliant on what the internet provides, so why not ensure that it’s an experience that benefits all? You can create a better user experience and it starts with web accessibility.

What is Accessibility?

When beginning the process of understanding accessibility you will notice the term ‘ADA Section 508 Compliant’ mentioned often. This refers to the law and specific code that these processes are regulated by. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that protects disabled individuals from discrimination whether it be at work, at school, or anywhere that is available to the public (via the ADA National Network). Section 508 of this law narrows down the focus, specifying that federal government agencies and services provide equal access to technological information being communicated.

Who can Benefit from ADA Guidelines?

The truth of the matter is that everyone can benefit from the tools that make a website accessible. As far as users are concerned, accessibility tools can improve user experience with poor internet connection as well as also assisting those with vision impairments to better understand an image that may not appear clearly to them.

When attempting to boost your website traffic, accessibility can be a key component.  According to “Case studies show that accessible websites have better search results, reduced maintenance costs, and increased audience reach.”

In addition, federal agencies can also better assist their users in viewing, navigating, and hearing the modalities of said sites.

The Principles of WCAG Compliance

As stated above, this keeps federal government agencies accountable. In order to avoid fines you must ensure you are WCAG 2.0 compliant which according to includes making sure your site maintains the following principles:
Is it…?
  1. Perceivable

  2. Operable

  3. Understandable

  4. Robust

These four principles are only skimming the surface, but all government agencies (universities, healthcare institutions, etc.) will both benefit greatly from adhering to these guidelines, and are required to do so to avoid getting slapped with some very high fines.

Real life Examples of ADA Accessibility

If the technical side of accessibility compliance is still a newer concept for you, it may seem difficult to connect how this can be put to use in day to day life or specifically, with your own website. Once you are able to connect the dots you may be able to better understand why we all can benefit from web accessibility. A few common accessibility tools being put to use include but are not limited to:
  1. Alternative text for images

    1. A text description can be written to provide site impaired website users with an adequate description of the image they may be looking at.

  2. Keyboard input

    1. This functionality gives users the option to navigate through a website using the keyboard in the case that they are not able to use a mouse.

  3. Transcripts for audio

    1. Just as you would put subtitles on while watching Netflix, the same can be done for any web audio to assist those with hearing limitations.

There is work all of us can do, whether we are required to or simply because we want to give our visitors the best experience possible.
Creating Accessible PDFs
This Whitepaper guides you through the process of creating your own ADA compliant PDF as well as how to test your document for any issues that may need fixing. Accessibility is just a click away!
Download the Whitepaper
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