A comprehensive overview of WCAG Guidelines, ADA Compliance & The Beauty of AI
Ever since Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, the internet is now learning how to be inclusive to accommodate people with disabilities. That being said, most websites today still aren’t designed to accommodate those who have visual, hearing, or cognitive disabilities. A recent study in 2019, created by WEBAIM published an accessibility analysis of the top one million web pages consisting of home pages from 730 unique top-level domains. This study found that nearly 98% of these websites were noncompliant.
So what exactly do we need to know when talking about Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and how to follow them?
While touring the WCAG Guidelines, many people find it daunting, (as it truly can be!) so here’s an easy breakdown of how WCAG follows 4 specific principles that are recommended for for user-ability:
- Make it easier for others to see and hear content
- Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content
- Do not use content that may cause or induce seizures.
- Give users enough time to read and use content.
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Help users navigate and find content easily.
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes with autocorrect user-ability.
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Make text readable and understandable. (Font contrast, size, spacing.)
Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
Great. So now that we can see how WCAG focuses on guidelines serving as a roadmap for web developers, let’s talk ADA compliance and when, regardless of industry, should you consider implementing these accessibility tools into your website.
- It’s the right thing to do.
Simply put, having an accessible website tells your visitors that you are ensuring people with disabilities are given the same opportunities that are provided to the non-disabled. Think of your website like a building. Do you have elevators? Is your building wheelchair accessible? All of these things for your “building” make the case that you are not only adhering to codes, but promoting fairness and equal opportunity.
So you have an accessible website now. You’ve added alternative text to images, transcribed audio files, provided text and audio descriptions for videos, added captions, and even more descriptive H1 tags. Congratulations, you just saved yourself some time in the world of SEO. Having an accessible site improves your SEO. Consider them one in the same. The easier you make it for others to visit your website, the easier it actually is for Google to crawl your site, which awards you with higher organic search rankings. Who would have thought?
3. E-Commerce, anyone?
So you’ve got a product or a service to sell. Let’s just say you haven’t put in the work yet for accessibility factors. Take this into consideration:
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in “places of public accommodation,” which includes private businesses that are open to the general public such as retail stores and restaurants.
Because e-commerce websites don’t have a physical address, there has long been confusion and debate over whether Title III of the ADA applies to them. However, in a growing umber of legal cases regarding website accessibility, judges have upheld the spirit of the law, find that online retailers must comply with the ADA as if shoppers were visiting them in person.
Also, consider this: If an e-commerce website isn’t accessible to people with disabilities, it isn’t just a grey area of ADA legislation — It is turning away millions of potential customers.
4. AI Comes To Our Rescue
Everyday, there are hundreds of thousands in this industry working on new assistive technologies that are creating new, inviting avenues for users with disabilities. Just think of how far the screenreader alone has come, since it’s inception.
With the advances in Artificial Intelligence, accessibility tools are now able to automatically audit your websites. These aren’t just for the Fortune 50 companies. This is where we are at this point in history. We have the internet at our fingertips and AI learning systems that scan images on your site and explain to a user who may be vision-impaired that what the photo is of a bonsai tree. How incredible?
If you’re looking to obtain more information on accessibility with your website, please don’t hesitate! If there is a need for your company, there is a solution here at Asenka