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Ensuring Website Accessibility: Compliance with Disability Laws

Websites play a significant role in our daily lives, providing us with information, services, and opportunities at our fingertips. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone can navigate these virtual platforms with ease. Individuals with disabilities may struggle to access websites. This isolates them from today’s digital world. Throughout the years, the United States has enacted several laws and regulations to address this issue and ensure website accessibility for all users. Learn more about how to foster an inclusive online environment, comply with disability laws, and avoid lawsuits for inaccessibility claims in this brief legal guide. 

The Importance of Website Accessibility

Individuals with disabilities should be offered equal access to information, including via digital channels. In fact, a website that fails to accommodate individuals with disabilities can be as exclusionary as physical barriers like steps at the entrance of a physical location. In other words, just as physical places are required to comply with disability laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the same principles apply to websites. People with disabilities, who may rely on assistive technologies or have unique needs, often encounter barriers that hinder their ability to fully participate in the online world. By embracing the principles of inclusive web design and following established guidelines like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), website creators and business owners have the power to foster an online environment that is inclusive for everyone.

Let’s dive into several effective approaches to guaranteeing website accessibility.

Text Alternatives (“Alt Text”) in Images

When designing an accessible website, providing alternative text (also known as “alt text”) for images is critical. Alt text is a concise description that conveys the meaning and context of an image, such as a picture, illustration, or chart to those who cannot see it. Text alternatives play a vital role for individuals with visual impairments and those who depend on screen readers to comprehend website content. Effective text alternatives should be short and descriptive. In addition to ensuring accessibility, alt text offers search engine optimization (SEO) benefits. Search engines may use the text to understand and index images which improve overall search engine rankings.

Keyboard Accessibility

Some individuals with mobility impairments may not have access to a mouse or other pointing device. Websites must have the option to be navigated using a keyboard alone. For example, website designers should ensure that all interactive elements on a site such as links, buttons, and form fields are reachable and operable using the keyboard. Incorporating keyboard keys like Tab, Enter, or Space can contribute to facilitating accessibility for users with mobility impairments or those who rely on keyboard navigation to access and interact with the website.

Allow Font Size Adjustments

Individuals who suffer from vision impairments may not be able to read small text sizes. Allowing font size adjustments enables these users to personalize the display according to their visual needs and preferences. Users should have a text enlargement option readily available for all content throughout the website. Verify that the website’s layout and content can gracefully adapt to the enlarged text size without distorting or rearranging the text. By prioritizing website accessibility for individuals with visual impairments, businesses can proactively minimize the likelihood of facing lawsuits and legal challenges.

Pay Attention to Contrast Sensitivity 

Contrast sensitivity refers to the ability to differentiate between different shades of colors or levels of brightness. Websites should ensure sufficient contrast between text and its background to enhance readability to individuals who struggle with contrast sensitivity. Avoid low contrast combinations, such as light blue text on a white background, as this can be difficult to read. High contrast combinations such as black text on a white background or vice versa promote an accessible website for all users.

Include Video Captions

Video captions are essential for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, as they may rely on captions to access and understand the audio content in videos. Moreover, including video captions ensures compliance with accessibility guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The textual representation of the audio content should be reflected accurately, including dialogue, sounds, and other relevant audio cues. Moreover, the captioning should be properly timed and synchronized with the video.

Conduct Regular Testing

Conduct regular audits and testing to properly assess the accessibility of your website. This generally involves systematically evaluating the website by identifying potential barriers or issues and implementing necessary improvements to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. You may choose to use automated accessibility testing tools to scan your website or conduct regular manual testing. In certain situations, you may want to consider involving individuals with disabilities in the testing process. This can help acquire direct feedback and insights into their user experience.

Bottom Line

When it comes to ensuring website accessibility, several laws and regulations come into play. Although it may depend on your jurisdiction, two commonly referenced laws related to website accessibility in the US include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

If you are looking for additional support in ensuring your website is easily accessible for all users, consider reaching out to a seasoned Communications and Internet Law attorney at Attorney at Law. By taking proactive steps to prioritize website accessibility, you can create an inclusive digital environment, avoid lawsuits and promote your business or website.

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