For government websites, ADA compliance must be more than a box on a to-do checklist. Since it was the government that put these regulations in place, it will be your visitors, as well as other public and even private sector entities, that will be looking to you to understand these guidelines. Read on for some tips to take into consideration for your website and ensuring it’s ADA compliant.
ADA Compliance Tips
Compliance stipulates that websites allow everyone, even those with visual or physical impairments, to experience the full range of services provided. If your site does not have even the basic fundamentals, such as avoiding using color as the sole means to communicate critical information, it would be hard to argue that you are implementing a reasonable effort.
Common ADA-based changes include background and text colors, HTML code issues, issues with PDFs, pages where pertinent information is not explained in the Alt tag, videos that lack subtitles and descriptions, and pages with functionality where the interaction on the page makes it difficult for someone with physical or visual limitations to participate. Given the importance of getting ADA compliance correct, many local governments hire outside companies to assist with implementation. If you opt for a do-it-yourself approach, begin by assessing how visitors use your site. If its main purpose is to educate people on signing up for services in your city, consider the following:
- Can a person with disabilities successfully complete the registration forms?
- Are the forms and documents posted in accessible formats such as HTML or RTF (Rich Text Format), in addition to PDF?
- Is the information they need to obtain and are the forms accessible?
If one or all of these factors aren’t met, this is a good place to start to begin updating your website so it is ADA compliant.
Tools & Suggestions
There are free or low-cost automated tools that can help you assess your site and identify problem areas. The Web Accessibility Initiative (https://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/) provides a list of tools for validating your HTML code for WCAG 2.0, Section 508 and ADA compliance.
An automated report may flag hundreds or even thousands of errors, but typically such findings are comprised of a handful of issues that repeat on multiple pages. For instance, if your logo offers poor color contrast, every page that contains your logo may report an error. These corrections are easy to make if you use a content management system (CMS) or make extensive use of CSS styles and templates. Once structural changes are fixed, they tend to stay fixed over time. However, issues with content changes made and managed by website admins and content managers may occur over and over again. Even if you are using a CMS, with its more structured workflow for changes and adding content, users may be able to add images, videos, and content without tags, that “breaks” your site in terms of compliance. In order to avoid this, training your content management staff on staying compliant is as important as making site changes. Otherwise, compliance issues will resurface with each new update.
Thinking he would eventually move into private industry, Bryan is now an audit partner at LSL with no sign of slowing down. Overseeing the firm’s multi-faceted government practice, Bryan leads financial and internal audits, working directly with government finance directors and board members. He enjoys the larger responsibility of providing assurance to donors, members and the public – supporting community health and vitality.
You can reach Bryan at 714-672-0022.
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