The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA is a civil rights law that protects people with disabilities in all areas of life and was signed into law in 1990. ADA protects people in jobs, education, entertainment, transportation and requires access to all public and private spaces which are open to accommodate the general public. In 2008, the ADAAA – Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act was signed into law and came into effect on January 1, 2009. The ADAAA made a number of significant changes and added specific definitions to the term – “disability” which extended the protections to a greater number of people.
ADA covers five major areas and is intended to provide coverage to anyone who faces discrimination on the basis of disability
Employment - Equal Employment Opportunity for Individuals with Disabilities
State and Local Government - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services
Public Accommodations - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities
Telecommunications - telephone and internet service companies make their products and services available and accessible to people with disabilities such as hearing loss, visual impairment, and speech impairments.
Miscellaneous Provisions - comprises everything else that does not fall within the above categories such as – the relationship it has with other laws, how ADA affects insurance providers and benefits, the prohibition against retaliation and coercion, illegal use of drugs, and attorney’s fees.
What does it mean in the digital world and why is it important?
Having ADA-compliant material not only promotes equality and accessibility, but it also helps the brand or corporation avoid a slew of legal problems. Thousands of claims are filed every year by people with disabilities against businesses that do not follow the ADA rules. Web developers, content managers, and organizations should conduct frequent content audits to ensure that their content complies with the 508 Standards and the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.
It not only enhances content accessibility, but it also boosts engagement, as evidenced by studies: videos with closed captions have a longer watch time and a higher conversion rate than videos without captions. This has an immediate influence on the content's SEO and community involvement rankings.
How to test your website for ADA and WCAG Compliance?
A combination of automated and manual testing is the best way to confirm that your website complies with ADA and WCAG standards.
Make sure the website is:
Make it easy for users to browse not only with a mouse, but also with keyboard-only commands.
Make sure that all users can locate and process information efficiently. For example, including audio descriptions for all content can benefit persons with visual impairments.
Ensure that the website is compatible with any screen reading softwares
The website should be readable. Ensure that font sizes and font colors are correct.
The website includes alternative text (aka alt text) for each image. Alt text is a word or phrase that describes an image for those with a visual impairment.
Obviously Next Wave can help you with all the items above, reach out today to talk with us.