Since 1998 when congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, great strides have been made in providing website accessibility to people with disabilities, but the story hasn’t ended. Doing a search to find good checklists and guidelines is daunting. In this case, the best foot forward is a step back to take a look at the landscape before delving into your search.
Website accessibility for people with disabilities, sometimes generally referred to as Section 508 compliance, benefits people with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities. Section 508 is specific to federal agencies, however, that does not mean that businesses and the non-federal public sector can ignore this topic. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that full and equal access to goods and services be made available in “places of public accommodation". This includes retail stores, restaurants, hotels, theaters, parks, etc.
Currently, private litigants and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) can file legal action regarding accessibility for non-federal websites under ADA. The DOJ was expected to publish guidelines in April of 2016, but those have been delayed until sometime in 2018 according to Employer Law Report.
There are, however, guidelines in place that have been adopted through the W3C process in cooperation with international individuals, organizations, and governments. These WCAG 2.0 AA Guidelines state that websites should make information:
- Provide text alternatives for non text content
- Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
- Create content that can be presented in different ways without losing meaning
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard
- Give users enough time to read and use content
- Do not use content that causes seizures
- Help users navigate and find content
- Make text readable and understandable
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools