Even in this advanced tech age, substantial and unnecessary obstacles permeate the digital world. In truth, most websites, apps, and digital devices still aren’t accessible or compliant with critical accessibility laws. And unfortunately, this inaccessibility creates an off-putting user experience for people with disabilities, who often abandon websites in frustration. Moreover, a lack of inclusivity can hurt an organization’s public image, and non-compliance can lead to legal consequences. In short, website accessibility compliance has never been more critical for your company.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right source to understand digital accessibility compliance. The following section explains why web accessibility standards are essential to a more inclusive digital world.
Why Are Web Accessibility Standards So Crucial?
Achieving web accessibility compliance makes websites, apps, and related devices equally accessible and usable for all end users, including those with various disabilities. Why are the associated laws and regulations so vital? Over one billion people worldwide live with a disability, comprising the most substantial global minority by numbers—yet 97% of the web doesn’t accommodate their needs. So the moral obligation to inclusivity should be evident to anyone, whether you’re a business owner or not. After all, websites and related digital assets aren’t different from physical locations concerning accessibility. The ADA requires ramp access for wheelchair users, so it naturally follows that websites, apps, and devices should likewise be accessible.
And any savvy business leader should understand the financial upside of supporting web accessibility initiatives. Modern consumers have high expectations from their chosen brands, and inclusivity is high on their list of demands. People want to feel good about the companies they buy from, and championing accessibility is an excellent way to bolster your brand image and loyalty. Then there are the obvious advantages of broadening your online audience—how much money are you leaving on the table when people with disabilities abandon your inaccessible website?
So, where’s a good place to start embracing and integrating digital accessibility? Get up close and personal with the digital accessibility compliance and privacy laws in the following section.
Critical Web Accessibility Laws and Privacy Laws
Online ADA lawsuits are reaching record numbers, and companies of every size and background can be vulnerable. Taking a preventative approach can keep your company in good standing, and that starts with a better understanding of what’s legally required.
In addition to accessibility guidelines, website compliance requirements cover various privacy laws required of all organizations. See a summary of both categories below.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that protects people with disabilities against discrimination.
- Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG), published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is the leading international organization on Internet standards.
- Section 508 (S-508) of the Rehabilitation Act requires U.S. federal agencies to buy, evolve, maintain, and provide accessible communications and information technology.
- The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires businesses to avert and eliminate obstacles for those with disabilities.
- EN 301 549, the EU standard for digital accessibility, mandates full digital accessibility of all public-sector Information and Communication Technology.
- The Health Insurance Portability and Account Act (HIPAA) is a U.S. federal law protecting individuals’ medical information from being disclosed without consent.
- The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) is a U.S. federal law that applies to owners and operators of websites and online services.
- The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a U.S. federal law overseeing who can access educational information and related records.
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is crucial to EU privacy and human rights laws.
Fortunately, real-world accessibility challenges have real-world solutions, and the four web accessibility standards below are the foundation for positive steps forward.
The Essential Web Accessibility Standards (POUR)
There are four primary principles (POUR), which are universally recognized accessibility guidelines for websites (see descriptions below).
1. Perceivable: End-users must be enabled to understand and be aware of your website’s textual, graphical, and navigational content. But remember that “perceive,” as it relates to this principle, goes beyond the physical ability to see through one’s eyes. It also means providing assistive technology like screen readers that convert text into synthesized speech or braille for people with blindness or low vision.
2. Operable: Your website should be usable without blocking or interrupting anyone’s user experience. Every website visitor can use every element of your user interface, from page navigation to menu links to operating video and audio components.
3. Understandable: All website content must be comprehensible for end users of different abilities. This guideline also applies to your website’s critical user path—structure each webpage intuitively with easy-to-use navigational elements.
4. Robust: Your website content must be easy to interpret and digest for all end users, including people who rely on assistive technology like screen readers.
Let’s look at how you can implement a plan – the tips below should get you started in the right direction.
10 Tips To Achieve Website Accessibility Compliance
1. Integrate An Accessibility Platform: Today’s AI-powered accessibility platforms streamline and maximize digital accessibility for organizations of every kind. These third-party providers have many cost-slashing solutions that do the heavy lifting and minimize the production burden on your development teams.
2. Optimize Color Contrast: Use a contrast checker to determine if you meet WCAG 2.1 AA or AAA requirements.
3. Provide Keyboard Navigation: Your entire website must be accessible and usable with just a keyboard.
4. Provide Flexible Time-Out Features: Ensure end users can extend or cancel any time-limited interaction on your website.
5. Avoid Flickering Content and Functionality: Content that flashes more than three times per second can induce seizures.
6. Integrate a Clear Navigational Path: Provide clear page titles, relevant hyperlinks, and a proper communication hierarchy to let users know where they are and what’s clickable.
7. Maximize Content Readability: Your textual content must be easily digestible for different ability levels, including those learning your website’s native language.
8. Provide An Intuitive User Path: ensure all end users can easily follow your navigational, communication hierarchy, and video/audio elements. Use best practices end users are familiar with, like placing main navigation in headers and footers and using bold headlines to distinguish each content section.
9. Provide Explicit Error Messages: Nobody likes error messages, so provide clear instructions for users to fix their issues quickly.
10. Write Parsable HTML: Assistive technologies frequently use HTML files to translate into different content formats. That’s why it’s best to use start and end tags when required and avoid identical IDs across elements and exact attributes in the same HTML tag.
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Answers to Common FAQs
What Are the Four Essential Web Accessibility Components?
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) follow four main principles (POUR), which require content to be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
What Are The Three pillars of accessibility?
Broadly divided into three pillars, emotional, functional, and technical, each must be accessible and considered together.
What Guidelines Should My Website Vendor Satisfy?
Website owners should require their development vendors to comply with WCAG 2.1 Level AA guidelines, which include top-tier functionality requirements and specific success criteria and methods.