The state of Web Content Accessibility

With a few clients recently asking us about “ADA compliance” for their site, we felt it was prudent to speak on this topic.

What is WCAG?

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following the guidelines are intended make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general.

We’ll take this opportunity to give a “cover our rear-end” statement: We are not attorney’s.  The information here is merely for discussion purposes and we are not experts on this topic.  You are required to due your own due diligence as a business owner to ensure your site complies with all laws and requirements.

From what we can gather, new guidelines were released on Jan 2018 and all federal sites are required to meet the WCAG 2.  We got conflicting information as it relates to other types of businesses and whether the guidelines were in fact site requirements vs. “best practices.”  It does seem as though there have been legal rulings against some non government companies’ websites for non-compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).  Unfortunately the rules,  regulations, and enforcement on this topic are still very unclear to us. Presumably, the more “public” facing your business is the more susceptible you may be to a targeted for compliance.

WebAim, a non-profit organization supporting better website accessibility, has developed this google chrome extension that can theoretically test a site against WCAG.  http://wave.webaim.org/extension/.  Feel free to give it a try. And YES, your site will undoubtedly have errors.

When we ran the extension, even sites like apple.com and google.com have errors when testing.  As another example, ironically, even https://www.ada.gov/ had significantly more errors than our own Personify.us site when tested using the webaim extension. It is our assumption that this is a vast global issue that is now starting to garner the attention of services looking to capitalize on the uncertainty of the situation, whether that be through lawsuits or the selling of “compliance” services.  Don’t be surprised to start seeing emails in your inbox with scare tactics.
Our Conclusion:
Bottom line, if you want to speak about your site, best practices, or if you have specific compliance requirements you’d like us to implement or test against, give us a ring.  While we can’t promise or guarantee site compliance from this issue or any other legal requirements, there are likely some simple measures you can take to help to mitigate errors, most of which start with a properly designed site and implementing the latest coding standards.