The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The ADA also covers website accessibility, which is the ability of people with visual, hearing, physical and cognitive disabilities to access information on the Internet, and which plugins like accessiBe WordPress can help with.
In this article, we will cover the basics of website compliance with ADA guidelines, as well as some simple ways you can improve your site’s accessibility.
What Does the Americans With Disabilities Act Require?
If your business is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it must comply with Title III of this law to protect individuals from discrimination based on their disability. Title III applies to private sector businesses that are considered places of public accommodation. Examples include restaurants, stores, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, and retail stores.
What Is a Section 508 Website?
Section 508 is the section of the Rehabilitation Act that requires federal agencies to make their websites accessible for people with disabilities. However, unlike the ADA, it does not require agencies to make their physical buildings accessible.
How Does Section 508 Apply to Non-Government Websites?
If you are developing your business online by creating a website or blog, you need to be aware of how section 508 applies. The good news is that there are only three things required for compliance.
Text Alternatives for Graphics, Image Maps, and Image Sizing
The first requirement is that if your website uses text-based content or images, you provide an alternative to the image so someone who cannot see it can still understand the message. For example, if you use a graphic of a car in your site’s navigation bar, you must provide an image of that graphic with alt text that says “cars” so a screen reader can read the alt text to the person who cannot see it.
Text Alternatives for Audio Clips
The second requirement is that if your website plays audio clips, you provide an alternative such as a transcript or captioning for those who cannot hear it.
Text Alternatives for Video Clips
The third requirement is that if your website includes video clips, you provide an alternative such as a transcript or captioning for those who cannot hear it.
How Can I Make My Website Section 508 Compliant?
First, make sure all of the images on your website have alt text to describe the image. Next, make a list of all text-based content on your website and create a list of any images or audio clips. Then, provide an alternative to people who cannot see, hear or use a mouse.
Second, verify that the site is accessible on all common browsers and devices, including cell phones, tablets, and assistive technology such as screen readers.
Finally, check with your web hosting company to make sure they are section 508 compliant. Many shared web hosts do not offer this option, but some do.
Closing Thoughts On Building Websites That Are Ada Compliant
If you run a business, it is important to know how laws like this affect your website. Even if you are not required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, making your website accessible to all people will only improve the user experience for everyone.