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Atilus Video Q&A: ADA Website Compliance

Atilus Video Q&A: ADA Website Compliance

In this month’s Video Q&A session, we discuss the importance of ADA website compliance.

We’ll review some key discussion points about the Americans with Disabilities Act and how that impacts websites.

Topics include:

  • What ADA compliance is
  • How to achieve ADA compliance
  • ADA compliance audits vs. plugins

Have additional questions? Email us at contact@atilus.com or drop a comment below.

Watch our ADA Compliance Video Q&A

Video Transcript

Kristen:

Hi, everyone. Thanks for coming to Atilus’ Q&A video series. So for the next few months, and maybe even longer than that, in 2021, we’re going to do a couple of videos about some common digital trends. Just some questions that we can answer for our clients, and for other small businesses. And so today we’re going to start talking about ADA Website Compliance, and I’ve got two people on our team who know ADA very well. Valerie Baker, who is one of our account managers, and then Harry Casbir, who’s our CEO. So first thing, I guess, we’ll just kick this off with, can you guys explain to us, why is ADA important? Why should businesses consider making their sites ADA?

Val:

So ADA is important, just as any building that you go into has a ramp, or some other way for individuals with disabilities to access those buildings. It should be the same for anything on the web. People with disabilities make up about 60% of the US population. So even though you may not encounter someone that’s physically disabled, you’re more likely going to encounter someone that has a disability at some point in your life.

Harry:

So, as Val was saying, ADA Compliance is extremely important, website ADA Compliance to be precise. As she mentioned, we’re all well aware of what ADA Compliance mean for a building. If you live in the US or Canada, you know very well, almost every building has to meet certain compliance, before the county, the city, and the government even let them open. Likewise for website, ADA Compliance itself did not come about until around 2008, in full force. Now ADA Compliance for electronic devices came back in 1998, and section 508, when the Senate actually updated the ADA Compliance, in ADF. To go back in the bed, ADA stand for, American Stability Act. So when that act was updated in 1998, and subsequently updated in 2001, and 2008, that’s what we call the ADA Compliance. Version 2.1, was adopted and the justice department stated that any website, any company that provide access to their product and services to the public, their website should be in compliance as if it was a physical building.

Harry:

Now, the initial idea compliance itself was really applied to government entity, that we see got federal government money, but eventually what happened, when GOJ updated their articles, stated that ADA compliance, if you have a physical location for the service that you provide, your website should be accessible as well. So why is that important, it’s because as we speak today, one in four American has some kind of a disability at the moment. Off care, about 60 million American, live with disability. And you have four types of disability, there is audible, physical disability, cognitive disability, and visual disability. And each of them really kind of changed the way someone can interact with a different piece of electronics, computer website differently. And how display in a big role on website itself is that when you go to a website, if you are not disabled, really there is nothing that you cannot access.

Harry:

If you have your mouse, and your keyboard with you, you just drive right through. But imagine someone that cannot see, that use assistive technology to access that information from your website, or someone that does not have the physical ability to do so. And that can come in many forms, someone was getting into an accident, and we temporarily disabled. So we need assistive technology to get through. And some people are permanently disabled, they are not able to navigate website. The person without disability can. So therefore that a website, ADA Compliance become important for that reason, so that people can navigate your website, with the assistive technology they are using. And that is why it’s so important. And you will see some of the advantages, why it makes sense as a business, to have your website ADA Compliance. It’s not just about not getting a lawsuit, or a demand letter from this lawyers, or someone can not access your website information, but there are truly important business advantages to have your website, ADA Compliance. I hope I covered this question, Kristen, and some of why is that important?

Kristen:

The next question, which I know is something that we’ve encountered with our own clients, and with, new clients who have come and talk to us about ADA. So can you use plug-ins to make your site compliant? And when I say plug-ins, I mean stuff you’ve seen widgets on sites, where you can adjust the text height and things like that. You talk just a little bit about that, and why that might be good or bad.

Val:

In short, not really. The plug-ins most of the time are just putting surface level adjustments to the site. So as soon as that widget goes down, for whatever reason, or you are no longer paying for it, all of the quote ‘accessibility’, changes that they made, are gone. Versus doing a manual audit with actual human testers and everything like that. Those changes are permanent, those are harder to remove. If your site goes down, it’ll come right back up with it.

Kristen:

Yeah. That’s a good point. I know that there’s been a lot of talk and I think they may have their time in place, but Harry, do you have anything to her?

Harry:

Absolutely, yeah. And good point Val. The thing with plug-ins, it’s just like everything else, it’s convenient. People find it’s instantly and readily available to apply to your website. So to piggyback to what Val said, those plug-in… There are two names for this, the way you apply ADA Compliance on your website. They’re, Layover, and the Coded HTML Adjustment. So what that means is, as you may have seen so many many websites nowadays, using one of those plug-ins to claim that their website, ADA Compliance. Actually many of those plug-in even make the website even worse than it needs to be. Because what happen is those plug-in, drop a lots of additional codes, onto your website, to adjust, to meet enhancement, to detect, to adjust images. And what happen in assistive technology, and there are many different types of assistive technology out there.

Harry:

The one that works for people with physical disability, people with hearing impairment, deaf, blindness, so you name it. There are a lots of different assistive technology that help people go to a website. Those plug-ins, usually on the way of helping people actually get the information they need. Now, again, there are places where this is the only option you have, and this is what you should apply. But I always, tell people to be careful what kind of plug-in you use and how you apply it. Because at the end of the day, if you were to develop your website from the ground up to be ADA Compliance, that means the code on your website, is built in a different way than just any other website. So meaning that your website, can meet compliance without using any of those plug-ins. So that someone that use assistive technology, we will come to your website.

Harry:

The, web accessibility, the WCAG, really give a good guidelines, on what need to be implemented, how it needs to be implemented, when it needs to be implemented, for each website, and each different type of content on their website. So that your website can be ADA Compliance. So those plug-in do not help you meet ADA Compliance. Well, they claim they help, people be able to access your website, those people that have disability. More than often, those same plug-ins, are a barrier to those assistive technology people use. So it is really, really important you understand the plug-in that you are using, and how you you using it. Especially, if you are a physical store that sell things, you have to be very, very careful.

Harry:

And again, there is no one size fit all. Because there are time, you may need to use a plug-in. But for most basic website, I think you should find an agency or developer, that understand ADA Compliance. And one, make a complete audit on your website, and then what we call Remediation, meaning fixing all those bugs, or any issues that you find within the audit. And then, get your website to be monitored by that agency, or that developer to ensure going forward, your website stay in compliance, and remove those plug-ins that dump additional content, and barrier on your website. That’s really what I would say about plug-ins.

Kristen:

Right. And I think we can agree that, as an agency we obviously recommend, the more manual approach, right? So the short answer to that question.

Harry:

Yes.

Kristen:

And then I guess last, and I want to get this in like your knee jerk reactions, just really quick. And I think Val, you might be the best person to answer this, because you’ve worked on several of our audits in the last year, however long we’ve been doing this now. So what is the most commonly encountered ADA issues that you’ve seen, on all audits that you’ve helped run?

Val:

Lack of ALT tags on images. Yeah, so an ALT tag is a descriptor of the image. So if there’s any text, include that for people that are using screen-readers, and just it helps users, know what they’re looking at, know what they’re seeing on the page, even if their eyes aren’t physically looking at it.

Kristen:

And I would say, now the second most one, both of us having worked with clients and helping them maintain compliance on their website, another issue we see a lot is color contrast. And what are most often met with, when I call out how you need to meet certain color contrast requirements, is that, “Oh, well, I can read it just fine.” And so I’ve had this conversation before where it’s okay, so you, as somebody who’s not disabled can read the text, however, somebody who is maybe color blind or has any other sort of visual impairments, if they’re unable to distinguish between the background and the foreground, that becomes an issue. So I think that, may have encountered that myself with some clients.

Val:

Yeah, definitely. And a lot of times people are very married to the colors that are in their brand. And while logos don’t fall under the, Lubbock Content Accessibility Guidelines, the text on the website does. So that’s another important thing to think about as you update branding or anything, consider, will this color combination work for everyone, regardless of ability.

Harry:

Another one that I can mention is also videos, as the web is becoming more videoish, I guess that’s a word, and more and more websites and companies try to, present a message to videos. It is very important as well to have not only via video close caption, but also if possible to provide a way for the user to, get the information to his transcription. So it’s very simple. You have a video, maybe whatever, however long it is, transcribe this video message, and give it a link right below the video to say, if you want to read the whole transcript, you can click there. Very simple, but it makes a big difference for someone, that may not be able to watch the video, that may not be able to hear the video. So all those things make big difference in people’s lives. And the easier you make it for people, the better it is. So, yeah.

Kristen:

Yeah. So the three most common things, and I think the biggest takeaway from that portion is that you have a website, even if you can’t work on full ADA Compliance right now, start adding ALT tags to your images. If you have videos, get transcriptions, and or captions added to them, we use a tool called Rev, R-E-V, as in very. And then, what was the last thing, the color contrast. So even consider it when you’re making brochures, obviously the web compliance doesn’t apply, but in general, if color contrast isn’t that great, people are going to have a hard time reading it. And then I guess that’s pretty much all we have to save for this Q&A series. We blog about ADA Compliance a lot on our website. So you can always go to our blog at Atilus.com/blog. Any final thoughts from any of you guys?

Harry:

The last thing I can say is, again, ADA Compliance is not something kind of… I know it’s fairly new, but with the current trend, with more and more people aware of what it is and how it applies. It can only benefit you as a business owner, as a business Director of Marketing, or if you ensure your web development, wherever you are, it is extremely important. It’s also make a lot of business sense, when you think about it. If your website, is ADA Compliance, when someone with disability come to your site, they will be able to access that information. So they’re not going to just, bounce or leave right away. That’s basically increase your website, audience, that visitors, and the potential customers.

Harry:

And also it makes common sense because again, in many, many many, things that, when a website is fully ADA Compliance, meeting ADA Compliance, many of the same element ADA Compliance has, is including SEO. So again, we’re not going to go into detail of SEO here today, but this is how important ADA Compliance is, because it kind of drip to, other things that… Or the factor that can be beneficial for our business.

Kristen Bachmeier
Kristen Bachmeier
Kristen Bachmeier is Atilus' Director of Operations and helps to oversee all client accounts and day-to-day operations. Kristen also has a background in digital marketing, and has been working in the digital marketing space since 2012.

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