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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) And Its Impact on Websites

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) And Its Impact on Websites

02 May 2022

Inclusivity is so important in every setting. And as our world becomes more and more digital, the need for inclusivity in a digital setting is increasingly essential.

Every day, people across the world use the Internet to get their news, online shop, stay in touch with distant friends and family members, take an online class, etc. The Internet is a pillar in so many of our everyday lives. That’s why it’s important that websites have an inclusive design so that their site remains accessible to individuals with disabilities.

This is where ADA compliance steps in.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established as law in 1990. The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in public places.

When the ADA was first enacted 30 years ago, it didn’t include the term “website” as a public place. Public places refer only to physical buildings.

But just eight years after the ADA was established, another law was passed that would require accessibility compliance for certain websites.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was passed in 1998. This act requires that all government agencies, financial institutions (such as credit unions and banks), healthcare organizations and any other federally linked agencies to make their electronic and information technology available to everyone.

This act also includes Universities because they provide federal student loans. Essentially any organization or agency that has government ties is required by law to make their website accessible.

So, while government linked websites are the only websites required by law to provide accessible use, the ethical standard is that all websites should be ADA compliant and have an accessible design. This is stated in The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The W3C’s Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a strong recommendation for every website. The guidelines are frequently updated to ensure that technology is accessible for anyone and everyone.

Under WCAG compliance, content must meet these four accessibility standards:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

These guidelines apply to software applications, operating systems, and browsers. Every website owner should strive to comply with these guidelines and standards in order to remain more inclusive and allow equal access for all to your website.

Keeping up with WCAG Standards

As mentioned previously, the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines are constantly being updated. This is so that technology can remain as accessible as possible for all individuals.

Staying in compliance with these guidelines should be the goal for moral and ethical reasons—and perhaps even legal if your organization is a government contractor. But being WCAG compliant is also good for business. Failing to remain accessible to all individuals could mean less visibility for your website and/or products.

Constantly auditing and updating your website for accessibility can be a time-consuming job. It can be difficult to keep up with compliance standards on top of running a website and business. Fortunately, there are solutions to help you easily stay WCAG compliant.

Solutions such as accessiBe are always monitoring for changes and “fixes” to be made in order to keep your website accessible. Solutions such as accessiBe utilize applications to achieve maximum ADA and WCAG compliance for your website and are constantly optimizing your website for accessibility.

Desktop showing icon for website accessibility tool using accessiBe
Desktop showing popup for website accessibility tool using accessiBe

We can help you get set up with an accessible solution so that your website has maximum visibility and compliance. Contact us and let’s chat about how our experts can get your website optimized for WCAG and ADA compliance.

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Get a free quote.

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