Whatever you want to call it – “website compliance,” “web compliance,” “ADA compliant website” – it all comes down the same thing: conforming to web accessibility standards. Web accessibility standards are the guidelines set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international governing group that effectively oversees the internet. Thanks to the W3C’s web standards, you can look at a website on different devices, browsers, user agents, etc., and you’ll have approximately the same experience. That is, if developers adhere to the guidelines. If they don’t, all bets are off.
Website compliance standards
Website compliance standards are often viewed interchangeably with “web accessibility standards.” These standards are a subset of the W3C’s web standards, under their Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Web accessibility standards are the guidelines to which developers must adhere in order to create digital content that is accessible to people with disabilities.
These guidelines are known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The latest version of WCAG, WCAG 2.1, was released in 2018. The guidelines contain criteria that developers and content creators should follow to ensure that their digital content is accessible.
How do people with disabilities use the internet?
People with disabilities like to enjoy the advantages of the internet like anyone else, but they often use different technologies to engage with it. For example, people with low vision or who are blind will use screen readers, assistive technology that read aloud content on the screen. Individuals with motor function disabilities may be unable to use a mouse and often rely solely on the keyboard to navigate a website. Deaf people require captions for audio media.
Conforming to WCAG criteria helps ensure that all individuals, regardless of ability, are able to experience the internet in a comparable way.
Why should you conform to WCAG?
Well, for one thing, it’s illegal to ignore them. The DOJ has stated on several occasions that websites constitute “public accommodations” under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Digital accessibility lawsuits are rampant and are not going away any time soon. And what’s the easiest way to avoid a lawsuit? An accessible website!
If you want to conduct business with the Federal government you are required by law to adhere to Section 508, which currently maps to WCAG 2.0. AA Oh, and if you do business with an organization that is a vendor for the Federal government, you also need to comply with Section 508.
Even if you’re not planning to conduct business with the Federal government or any company that does, blatantly disregarding web compliance is just bad business sense. With an estimated 1 billion people worldwide and 26% of the US population with a disability, that is a massive market to ignore. People with disabilities have disposable income and needs just like any other consumer – it is in your best interest to ensure they can become your customer.
How do you initiate website compliance?
Creating and maintaining accessible digital content is an ongoing process. It’s not a “one-and-done” situation, because your digital content constantly changes. The first step is getting the lay of the land. This can be easily accomplished by conducting an automated accessibility scan that will identify machine-detectable errors and give you an overall sense of your site’s level of accessibility. TPGi offers such a scan for free.
Ideally, an accessibility expert would then perform a manual accessibility review on your website. Such a review provides a more comprehensive evaluation than the automated scan and surfaces errors that are not machine-detectable. TPGi offers several types of accessibility reviews at different price points to cater to your organization’s individual needs.
Once you have established a baseline of the accessibility of your site, you can then proceed to the heavy lifting: remediation. It’s not always easy for developers without a background in accessibility to implement the recommendations resulting from the automated scan and the manual review, so we offer a comprehensive library of accessibility techniques, KnowledgeBase, that can help them to move forward.
After your organization has remediated the errors surfaced in the initial project engagement, we recommend a Verification Review (contact us for more information) to confirm the accessibility barriers have been resolved.
How do you maintain website compliance?
After you’ve gone through the initial evaluation, remediation, and verification process, it’s critical to keep an eye on things to ensure your site maintains and improves its current level of accessibility. TPGi’s robust accessibility testing and monitoring solution, ARC Monitoring, is an affordable option to achieve this. You’ll be able to look at historical data, receive prioritized recommendations for the most effective changes, and compare different data sets to get to the root of long-standing accessibility problems.
Achieving web compliance may seem like a daunting effort at first, but, like everything else, if you break the process down into manageable blocks it becomes more much reasonable. Contact TPGi today and we’ll partner with you to help you achieve your accessibility goals.