What Is ADA?
ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act has been in effect ever since George H. W. Bush enacted it into law back in 1990. It was put into place in order to set standards for the government and public and private companies to follow when dealing with people with disabilities. This act made it mandatory for these institutions to have ramps and/or elevators installed, allow service animals to enter into their buildings, and have other measures in place to accommodate people with physical and mental disabilities. While these measures have allowed more people to enjoy these real world facilities than ever before, it has not had much of an effect on the digital world, that is until now. Recently measures have been underway by the Department of Justice to extend the reach of law into the internet, especially onto the World Wide Web. This reform was originally planned to take place in 2015, however, it was pushed back and is now planned to take effect in 2017 for government sites and 2018 for everyone else. As of January 2017, the federal government has officially begun adopting the rules set forward by the WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
What is the WCAG?
The WCAG or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were created by the tech community created back in 2008 and later updated in 2012 (WCAG 2.0) in order to place a guideline on how a website can be made ADA compliant. It has since been adopted by the Department of Justice and will be used as the standard moving forward. The WCAG 2.0 is divided into 12 categories (Text Alternatives, Time Based Media, Adaptable, Distinguishable, Keyboard Accessible, Enough Time, Seizures, Navigable, Readable, Predictable, Input Assistance, Robust) which are further divided into 3 Levels (A, AA, AAA). An example of this would be that Time Based Media is made up of:
• Level A: Captions (Prerecorded) – Provide captions for videos with audio
• Level AA: Captions (Live) – Live videos have captions
• Level AAA: Sign Language (Prerecorded) – Provide sign language translations for videos
As of now, the Department of Justice has declared that all websites, starting in 2018, have to be compliant with Levels A and AA of the WCAG 2.0.
Why Should You Become ADA Compliant now Instead of Later?
At the time of writing this, it is currently not mandatory for public and private sites to become ADA compliant and it will not be mandatory until 2018 or later. This may cause some people to believe that they should hold off on converting their websites until then, however, this is a poor assumption. Right now many sites are already reaping the benefits of ADA compliant. These benefits included:
• Your website is more appealing to customers and clients. Different types of people use the internet every day in order to buy, sell, or look up information. Amongst these people, some have disabilities which make it hard for them to navigate websites without the use of a device or program. Because of this, these people will tend to avoid or quickly leave sites that do not support these helpful tools. This, in turn, will cause fewer people to visit these sites than that of their ADA compliant competition.
• Your website will already be compliant with ADA before it becomes mandatory. By becoming ADA compliant before it is necessary, your company and its employees will have a leg up on your competitors that decided to wait to make the change. This will also allow your business to learn about ADA and how it works on your on time, rather than having to learn it extremely quickly. All in all your company will be better equipped for the eventually ADA environment that will become to this field.
• Your website will have better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) than your competitors. Every day people turn to the internet in order to find information on a wide variety of topics ranging from news to shopping and everything in-between. In order to find this information, almost everyone uses a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing) which tends to give them an overwhelming amount of links to sites that might help them. This number is so large that most people tend to only click on the first handful of links that they see before they move on to something else. This means that if your website is not high on this list then it will most like be over looked and the number of visitors to your site will be relatively low. In order to fix this issue, you will need to optimize your site by using like video transcriptions and link anchor text (most of which are covered by the WCAG 2.0).
• Your company will avoid any possible lawsuits that can come from not being ADA compliant. We are currently living in a world where the laws of ADA and internet are in an unclear gray area. This leads to many people believing that non-ADA compliant websites are breaking the law and will sue them for discrimination. This was the case in the lawsuit of Gil v. Winn-Dixie, in which Juan Carlos Gil sued Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. over the fact that he was unable to use assistive technology (his JAWS screen reader) on 90% of the site. While it is not currently mandatory to have an ADA compliant site, the court still found in favor of Gil and Winn-Dixie had to pay to not only make their site ADA compliant, but they also had to pay Gil’s attorney’s fees and costs. It is estimated that none compliant sites will be fined up to $75,000 per incidence.
How can you make your Website ADA Compliant?
After reading this article you are probably asking yourself “how do I go about making my site ADA compliant?” Well, we have good news for you! We here at the Niki Jones Agency, Inc are currently able to not only check to see if your website is ADA compliant, but we can also transform your website from an ordinary website to a site that is completely in line with the A and AA levels of WCAG 2.0. So contact us today and watch your ADA troubles wash away.
Niki Jones Agency