Experience in developing ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant applications using Section 508 and/or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is important for companies who wish to maintain a professional web presence.
Does your website provide accessibility for people with disabilities? Millions of individuals connect to the Internet for quick access to vast amounts of information. Some Website designers still overlook accessibility. For people with disabilities, there is still a great deal of information, especially multimedia applications, on the Internet that is not accessible to them because of poor Website design.
Accessibility is not always buried in the lines of HTML, CSS, XHTML, PHP, or other code written for a Website. Accessibility lies with the lead Website designer, the Webmaster, and the content manager; however, the Webmaster is responsible for programming for accessibility. What does this mean? This means the Webmaster must publish pages that are accessible enough for all visitors to explore while creative enough that visitors remain interested. The Webmaster can make the information as user friendly as possible and still organize the information on the page to make it comprehensible. This approach leads to understanding and there is no more basic reason for having a Website than to transfer information in an understandable manner.
Does the site allow navigation by a user who does not use a mouse?
Wherever possible, content should be able to be accessed through a keyboard only. When content is accessible via a keyboard, it can be accessed by people with no vision who cannot use devices such as mice that require eye-hand coordination, as well as by people who must use alternate keyboards or input devices that act as keyboard emulators. Keyboard emulators include speech input software, sip-and-puff software, on-screen keyboards, scanning software, and a variety of other assisting technology (AT) tools.
Does the site avoid content that flashes or blinks too quickly?
Any elements that flash, flicker, or blink more than three times during any one second period may induce seizures. Regardless of flash speed, these elements may also present accessibility challenges for users with low vision.
Does the site allow the default human language of each page to be programmatically determined?
Allowing the default language to be programmatically determined allows greater ease of use for users who rely on Braille translation software and speech synthesizers and allows easier access to dictionary tools that a user may need to consult.
Does the site present content in an organized manner that avoids unexplained changes in context?
Content is often more accessible when it is presented in a predictable order from page to page and when the functional and interactive components of a site operate predictably. Users with cognitive limitations may become confused if components appear in different places on different pages. Placing repeated components in the same relative order within a set of pages allows users with reading disabilities, for example, to focus on an area of the screen rather than spending additional time decoding the text of each link. It also makes the content more understandable for users with screen readers and screen magnifiers. Anytime a link could change the context of a page, such as opening a new window, it should be explained in advance with adequate cues (for example, “clicking here will take you to our corporate diversity page”) so as to avoid the disorienting and confusing effects of an unexpected and unexplained change in context.
Does the site help users avoid and correct mistakes?
Individuals with certain types of disabilities may have more difficulty avoiding mistakes, particularly when interacting with items such as online forms. For any part of a site that requires input from the user, there should be adequate instructions, labels for the form fields, and cues for entering information, such as a selection of the available choices (if applicable) or examples of expected data formats. For input in a required form field such as “Date of Birth,” labels should clearly indicate that the field is “Required” and that it calls for the inputting of “Date of Birth,” and there should be information on the expected data format (that the date must be in the “MM/DD/YYYY” format, for example). For users who have difficulty noticing error messages or understanding their errors, it is important that error messages be noticeable and provide the user with sufficient guidance to re-enter the information correctly.
Does the site allow users to skip repetitive content?
For individuals who use screen readers and/or who only navigate sites with the use of a keyboard, the content on pages appears sequentially, often in a top-to bottom, left-to-right fashion. Because sites typically have repeated blocks of content, such as navigation links, header graphics, or advertising frames, a method to skip the recurring content should be included in the site design. This ensures that those with visual disabilities do not have to listen to and those using keyboards do not have to tab through this type of content repeatedly as they navigate the site.
Does the site provide fully accessible PDFs, PowerPoint documents, and online forms?
PDF and PowerPoint documents may be inaccessible to users with disabilities (particularly those who rely on screen readers) if they are not developed in the correct manner.
Does the site display the company’s equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy statement?
The EEO statement sets out the company’s stated position with regard to its legal obligations and desire to employ individuals with a wide array of backgrounds and abilities.
Does the site explain to people with disabilities how they can get help using it and where to get reasonable accommodation if they cannot apply online?
The site should present information for how people with disabilities who may rely on assisting technology (AT) or need assistance navigating the site can request assistance using or navigating it. If the site is not fully accessible it should present instructions for how a person with a disability can request a reasonable accommodation in the application process. This information should be included in the EEO policy statement.
By following the above tips, you can make your website more accessibile to people with disabilities.