Making Your Website Inclusive: What Are Web Accessibility Standards?
Ensuring Your Website is Accessible: The Importance of WCAG 2.1, ADA Title III, and Section 508 Compliance
As the internet becomes increasingly ubiquitous in our daily lives, ensuring that websites are accessible to everyone is more important than ever. In the United States, three major accessibility standards have been developed to help ensure that websites are accessible to people with disabilities: WCAG 2.1, ADA Title III, and Section 508. In this article, we will explore the importance of complying with these standards and how they can help make websites more accessible for all.
What is WCAG 2.1?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 is a set of guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that provide a framework for creating accessible websites. The guidelines are organized into three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. Level A is the minimum level of conformance, while level AAA is the highest.
WCAG 2.1 provides guidance on a range of topics, including the use of alternative text for images, the use of descriptive headings, and the provision of keyboard accessibility. By following these guidelines, websites can become more accessible to people with a range of disabilities, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, and motor impairments.
What is ADA Title III?
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation, including businesses that operate on the internet. This means that websites must be accessible to people with disabilities, just like physical locations must be accessible.
Under ADA Title III, websites must be usable by people with disabilities, which includes providing alternative text for images, ensuring that website functionality can be accessed with a keyboard, and using descriptive headings. Failure to comply with ADA Title III can result in legal action, including fines and lawsuits.
What is Section 508?
Section 508 is a law that requires federal agencies to ensure that their electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. The law was updated in 2017 to align with WCAG 2.1, level AA. The law applies to federal agencies, but it also serves as a standard for private businesses and organizations to follow.
By complying with Section 508, websites can ensure that they are accessible to people with disabilities who may be using assistive technologies, such as screen readers or speech recognition software. This can help to ensure that everyone has equal access to information and services provided by websites.
Why is it important to comply with these standards?
Complying with WCAG 2.1, ADA Title III, and Section 508 is important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it ensures that websites are accessible to people with disabilities. This is not only important from a legal perspective, but it is also the right thing to do. Everyone should have equal access to information and services provided by websites, regardless of their abilities.
In addition, complying with these standards can help to improve the usability of websites for everyone, not just people with disabilities. For example, providing alternative text for images can help to improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of a website, while using descriptive headings can help to make content more readable and easier to navigate.
Finally, complying with these standards can help to protect businesses and organizations from legal action. As more and more people with disabilities turn to the internet for information and services, ensuring that websites are accessible is becoming increasingly important. Failure to comply with these standards can result in legal action, which can be costly and damaging to a business or organization’s reputation.
Complying with WCAG 2.1, ADA Title III, and Section 508 is essential for ensuring that websites are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. By following these guidelines, businesses and organizations can improve the usability of their websites, protect themselves from legal action, and ensure that everyone has equal access to the information and services provided by their websites. In addition to being the right thing to do, accessibility is also a legal requirement in many cases, and failure to comply with accessibility standards can result in legal action, fines, and damage to a business’s reputation. By making websites accessible to people with disabilities, businesses and organizations can help to create a more inclusive and equitable online environment for everyone. If you’d like to determine whether your website is compliant and accessible to people with disabilities, let’s chat! Our website accessibility remediation service and software partner, accessiBe, can help ensure your website meets the needs of all people.