What are some of the barriers that prevent or limit access to websites for people with disabilities? One barrier is websites that are not ADA compliant. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a broad civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. Title III of the ADA applies to all businesses that provide goods or services to the public or websites, requiring that they make reasonable modifications in their policies and practices to avoid discrimination and ensure equal access for persons with disabilities. There are many tools available on the web, such as accessiBe that are used for website accessibility.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) enforces the ADA; including Title III, which applies to private businesses. It developed regulations called the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). The ADAAG is a standard that specifies how the electronic information on websites must be made accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. The DOJ also allows businesses to adopt an industry standard, such as the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provides guidelines for making websites more accessible.
When people with disabilities cannot access information on your website even after you make changes, it is called ‘electronic discrimination.’ The result of electronic discrimination can lead to loss of business. The U.S. Access Board is the federal agency that enforces Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal agencies to make their websites accessible for individuals with disabilities, including employees who are temporarily unable to access the full website because of a disability.
The best solution is ongoing web accessibility testing. Web accessible design is about more than just checking for correct code implementation, which can often be addressed by automated tools. It’s also about ensuring the website content makes sense when presented out of context – such as how your webpage would read with incorrect or no styling information applied to it. A large majority of businesses still do not check the accessibility status of their websites. Implementing this kind of testing can be a tedious process, which is why many companies are turning to automated website testing tools to fulfill compliance requirements and ensure that their websites are accessible for all users.
Here are some common mistakes that lead to inaccessible websites:
Using Images Without Alt tags
Website users who are blind or have low vision often use screen readers to access the content of a website. Screen readers cannot read images and will instead say something like, “picture of a red flower.” Providing alternative text (alt tag) for your image allows the screen reader user to hear the alt tag, such as “picture of a red flower,” which is much more informative than saying “image.” If you must use an image with no alternative text, add a label using the title attribute.
Using Alt Tags That Do Not Describe Images
Make sure that your alt tags describe images accurately and in context. For example, a picture of a red shoe should have an alt tag that reads “a red shoe.” Do not use alt tags such as “image,” “picture,” or simply the file name of the image.
Using Content That Is Unlabeled
If you do not provide descriptive labels for text images, your content will be inaccessible to people who use screen readers. Ensure that there is a label for every piece of content and that all labels are unique within the webpage.