Have you ever wondered how a blind or deaf person consumes content on the websites you’d hate to live without? The web isn’t accessible for everyone and it presents a major problem for millions of disabled users every day.
Worldwide internet usage and advancements in digital capabilities have forever changed the way consumers interact with organizations. The necessity of the web is more significant now than ever before, yet many organizations are failing to provide a digital experience that is accessible to all people.
Web accessibility is a complicated issue because it has ethical, legal and financial implications. The undeniably critical role of the internet in people’s personal and professional lives speaks to why web accessibility can no longer be an afterthought for organizations. The first step in determining how your organization will approach web accessibility is to fully understand the fundamental terminology that surrounds the issue. The following bullets define the most relevant terms that all organizations need to know about web accessibility.
- Web accessibility/Website accessibility: “Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web. More specifically, web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web, and that they can contribute to the web.” - The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
- WCAG 2.0: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 is a list of recommendations that acts as a shared standard for web accessibility compliance. These guidelines were published in 2008, to replace WCAG 1.0 of 1999. The goal of WCAG 2.0 is to make content accessible to 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.
- Assistive technology: It refers to any hardware and software that provides functionality to support users with disabilities when they access the web. The features provided by assistive technology include alternative presentations (such as synthesized speech), alternative input technology methods such as voice, additional navigation or orientation mechanisms. It also covers content devices, screen readers, text-to-speech software, speech recognition software, alternative keyboards and visual reading assistants.
- ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act was published by the Department of Justice in 1990. “It prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for people with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.”
- Section 508: an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. These agencies must give disabled employees and disabled users a comparable level of access to information as all the other people.
- ACAA: The Air Carrier Access Act was issued in 1990 by the Department of Transportation. “It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel and requires air carriers to accommodate the needs of passengers with disabilities.” The US Department of Transportation requires that all airlines (either based in the US or land planes with more than 60 passengers) have to make their main transactional online services accessible to people with disabilities. Initially, the deadline was December 2015, which was then extended to the end of June 2016.
To learn more about web accessibility and its business implications, read our recent blogs on why you need to pay attention to web accessibility now and the three reasons why web accessibility should be on your 2016 roadmap. You can also visit our web accessibility stream for all relevant content.
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