ADA Compliance and the Future of the Web: Your Questions Answered

By: Kate Penrod  | 05/02/2018


While there is no legislation in the United States (yet) for most websites, there is still a fountain of benefits from having a WCAG 2.0 AA compliant website, or building a website with inclusive design principals in mind. In fact, these guidelines pertain to more than just what you are showing on your website. From downloadable PDFs to emails, the WCAG 2.0 contains guidelines for more than just what your website should look like, which actually came through in some questions we had from listeners.

Below are answers to the questions asked during the webinar.

 

How do you determine the ratios for color contrast?

There are a ton of different resources out there that you can use. However, my favorite is Tanaguru. I love this site because besides letting you know if your colors are compliant or not, they also will offer suggestions to colors that are compliant in case your original choices did not pass.

 

How is inclusive design really different than accessibility?

Inclusive design takes accessibility one step further by including more than just situations of disabilities. When we design/build websites, we are creating them for the perfect situation, one where there are no boundaries or road blocks that would inhibit one’s use. Inclusive design is the practice of anticipating and reacting to situational aspects that could affect one’s ability to use the internet in those perfect silos we create for. It takes into consideration hardware quality, internet connectivity, computer literacy, education, language, economic situations, age, and disability (both permanent and situational).

 

If there was one thing we can do to make a website more accessible, what would that be?

It is so hard to pick just one thing, because, to me, there are 2 very simple things that can be done. The first is adding RELEVANT alt tags to all of your photos. Making sure that the alt tag is describing what the photo is, and not the action or location of the photo on your site. The second is making sure your links (buttons and text links) all contain relevant text. For compliance, using vague terms like “read more” and “learn more” is not sufficient enough because there potentially are too many unknowns. Especially when using assistive technology, sometimes the flow does not mimic what the design is, so you potentially could be unaware as to what the link actually leads you to.

 

Where does this fall in the list of priorities for a website?

Unfortunately, this isn't a "one size fits all" kind of answer, because everyone (and every website) has a different list of priorities that they need to hit. In my opinion, if your website is categorized in the healthcare, education, financial, non-profit, or e-commerce spaces, then I highly suggest making web compliance a priority. That is because these are the types of sites with a potentially large disabled audience. Regardless of where it falls under your list, ADA requirements are something you want to define at the beginning of your redesign, and not halfway through. Creating a compliant (or inclusively designed) website affects each and every step of the process, from UX and content creation all the way to development. In order to create the best product possible, you want to make sure your entire team is on board and that someone who is well-versed in ADA compliance requirements (or inclusive design principals) assists in leading the team.

 

How can we better translate ADA requirements to social media content?

There is a lot we cannot control when posting to social media, since we are entrusting a site with its own code and functionality. But we have to make sure we take the extra steps to make Facebook, Twitter, etc. as compliant as possible. The first is the easiest, alt text. I bet you didn't know that you can edit the images on Facebook and Twitter to add alt text and captions. This assists those utilizing screen readers or other assistive software to better understand what you are posting about.

Another easy switch to start doing is making sure ALL of your videos contain subtitles, or the ability to view the subtitles. Not only will this assist those with hearing disabilities, but it will also assist in your overall conversions as well! (Think about someone in the office watching a video on their Facebook feed, but not having headphones to plug in to view it – situational opportunities to make something more usable). If you had not had the subtitles already embedded in your video, that person might have skipped the video and would never end up watching it. You also want to keep in mind what fast flashes and strobing can potentially do for a viewer with epileptic tendencies.

 

How would these components apply to email?

Emails are something that normally are swept under the rug when it comes to compliance standards. In reality though, according to the WCAG 2.0, email is the one thing that still needs to be compliant. Some things to keep in mind when designing emails: make sure you are maintaining a logical reading order, use heading elements in code, follow color contrast guidelines, add alt text to images, use meaningful text in links, keep your code clean and organized, and use descriptive subject lines.

 

What are some of the best ways to test/validate your designs for compliance?

There are a few things you can do to test your site. The first is to run it through a website that crawls through your site and can pinpoint issues that may arise. However, not everything can be picked up through a site crawler.

Which brings us to our second way of testing your site – manually. A lot of the items that need to be tested (color, key board accessibility, etc.) are things that need to be manually tested. Which is why we suggest looking for someone who knows how to properly conduct compliance checks. However, don’t be fooled by some of these sites offering certifications and stamps of approval for a once over on your site. There really aren't any truly verified certifications, yet. What you can do though is make sure you are doing quarterly (or monthly, depending on how much you update your site) audits to ensure you are remaining compliant. Once again, if you are not sure what this entails, we suggest reaching out to someone who does to assist you.

 

What are some tips and tricks to always staying compliant, especially in light of all the other compliance regulations that are popping up (GDPR, CANSPAM, CASL)?

As we mentioned above, the best way to make sure you are always staying compliant is with ongoing reporting and audits of all your assets. Especially when it starts to deal with international laws, it would be smart to set up a schedule (monthly or quarterly) to look over your site and run it through an extensive audit. If you are worried about implications and lawsuits from not having a compliant website, then we do suggest partnering with someone who has experience and knowledge for this sort of thing (like us!) to help. In the end, it could end up saving you a lot of money.

 

You can access the full webinar here:

 

Have a question that wasn't answered? Or looking for an audit of your existing site? Contact us!

 

 


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