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May 29, 2019

The Importance of Regular Auditing for ADA Website Compliance

Author: Valerie Baker

ADA compliance has now taken center stage in the world of web design and development. Lawsuits are circling in every state, in every industry, and in all kinds of businesses. Now, companies are scrambling to make sure their websites are compliant. But do those companies have a true understanding of what all of this means?

ADA Compliance Defined  

The American Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public – and this now includes websites.

Previously, websites were not a part of this conversation. It was long debated as to whether websites are considered a “public space.” But now, more than ever, billions of people across the country use the web to accomplish daily tasks – and the web is now no longer an exception to the American Disabilities Act, and many courts are ruling in favor of the plaintiff in ADA web compliance cases.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

To help give companies and web designers/developers the tools to ensure a website is accessible, the World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C for short) developed a set of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (or WCAG for short). These standards break down the specific deliverables that websites need to meet in order to be accessible to all.

It all goes a step further when we dig into the different levels of standards. There was 2.0, which has been out for some time:

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will 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.

In June 2018, WCAG 2.1 was released. It’s not yet the set of guidelines that many would consider acceptable, but we believe this is on the horizon in the next 12 – 18 months. In addition to WCAG 2.0, there are levels of accessibility: A is below acceptable, AA is standard (and where you want to be), and AAA is exceptional (and difficult to achieve).

As you can see from the above, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are subject to change and we can expect them to continue to evolve as technology evolves with it. The purpose of this post is to educate you on why you should continue to spearhead accessibility for your company’s website even AFTER you’ve met the initial requirements.

How to Make your Website ADA Compliant

ADA compliance for your website is not something you can achieve overnight. I often compare it to SEO, whereby there are a series of steps you can take initially to get “setup,” but then over time, you can expect to be met with ongoing audits, management, and updates.

To make your website ADA compliant, the best and most effective route is to hire a professional web company that specializes in ADA website compliance. Atilus is a full-service digital agency in Bonita Springs, FL and our entire team is well-versed in WCAG 2.0 AA standards and can help get your site to the latest standards.

There are plugins and scanning tools available, but those are known to only catch around 20-30% of the standards websites need to meet. As such, it is highly recommended to work with a professional web agency that can not only help you meet those standards initially but also help you to maintain the latest standards.

Stay in Compliance through Ongoing ADA Auditing

Once your website has met the latest standards (WCAG 2.0 AA), it’s important to understand that it won’t always stay in compliance. There are several different scenarios, but we’ll cover the top two.

The first reason is that you may have people updating your website that don’t quite understand what compliance entails – and they may hinder it without realizing it. This is especially true for companies that work on content management systems (for example, WordPress). A person on your team could unknowingly upload an image with colors or contrast that would make it hard for a color-blind person to read. This is just one example, but I think it does a good job of illustrating what this could spin into.

The second reason is that we will certainly see new guidelines later down the road. As technology improves for those with disabilities, so too will the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. We were met with WCAG 2.1 last year and I imagine we’ll see another round of updates here in the next 12 – 18 months.

As a business owner, you don’t have time to review your website to make sure it stays in compliance or stay up-to-date on the latest guidelines. That’s where Atilus comes in.

Web Firm Specializing in ADA Compliance

Atilus is a full-service web design and digital marketing agency located in Bonita Springs, Florida. We are a full team and each of us specializes in various areas of web design, development, custom programming, digital marketing, and more.

ADA compliance has long been on our radar and we continuously provide our team with the resources to stay up-to-date on the latest accessibility trend. We’re a team of real people who believe in accessibility for all and are here to help companies that need to make their websites compliant.

For more information and pricing, please click here or call us at (239) 362-1271.

Valerie Baker

Valerie is the Senior Account Manager & Project Manager here at Atilus.

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