508 / ADA Compliant Web Design

Have you recently heard about web sites needing to be 508 / ADA compliant?

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (508) are made up of laws requiring information to be made available to all members of the public including those with disabilities.

ADA protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities participating in interstate commerce. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against disabled people in “places of public accommodation”. Public accommodations include private entities that provide commercial services to the public. Steps should be taken to make certain that no disabled person is segregated or denied services. Title III not only includes brick and mortar accommodations but website accessibility as well.

Section 508 guidelines mandate that all federal agencies make their electronic and information technology accessible to individuals with disabilities. January of 2017, a final rule was published updating requirements for information and communication technology covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. All companies under 508 guidelines must have all digital communications 508 compliant. This includes all website content, emails, computer software, gaming systems, apps, and PDF’s. PDF’s are not accessible by screen readers. Screen readers are used by those individuals who cannot read a website.

The 508 compliance law has expanded to any company that does business with the federal government, such as, legal organizations, private contractors, healthcare providers, service-oriented companies, financial industries, public service providers and many others.

There has been a sudden increase in web site accessibility lawsuits, although courts have not yet reached a consensus on whether the ADA applies to web sites. Neither Congress or the Supreme Court has established a set of standards for web site accessibility.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 defines how to make Web content more accessible to people of all ages and with all types of disabilities.

The WCAG has provided guidelines for website accessibility.

WCAG 2.1 Guidelines:

Principle 1: Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
Guideline 1.1 Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
Guideline 1.2 Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media.
Guideline 1.3 Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
Guideline 1.4 Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

Principle 2: Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
Guideline 2.1 Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
Guideline 2.2 Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
Guideline 2.3 Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures or physical reactions.
Guideline 2.4 Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
Guideline 2.5 Input Modalities – Make it easier for users to operate functionality through various inputs beyond keyboard.

Principle 3: Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
Guideline 3.1 Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.
Guideline 3.2 Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
Guideline 3.3 Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

Principle 4: Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
Guideline 4.1 Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.
Conformance Claims (Optional)

As stated in the WCAG website, no website will be 100% compliant as there are many different needs to fill. L.A. Design Studio will do their best to make each website as compliant as  possible.

Please do your own due diligence.
For further reading –

Section 508

United States Access Board Guidelines