A lot has changed since the advent of the internet in 1990.
The world around us has changed. Some cities have cell phone lanes, so that those who refuse to look up from their phones can simply bump into each other and leave the rest of us out of it.
People have changed as a result of the internet; how could we not? The incredible reach has emboldened everyone with a voice and empowered us all with the tools to make a difference (along with the responsibility to use such power wisely).
To say the world has changed is an understatement; we’ve reinvented humanity.
One of the most fascinating elements of this ongoing evolution of web, world, and people is the legal aspect. Some laws have held firm since the days before Google, while others have been bent, twisted, broken, and reshaped by the internet. Where we see this most clearly may surprise you: Accessibility Compliance.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created in 1999 to ensure that public and private spaces and businesses were accessible by folks with disabilities (be they mobility, auditory, visual, verbal). To be ADA compliant hallways must be wide enough to allow for a wheelchair to pass through, signage must also have Braille for the blind, and any place with steps must have a ramp or an elevator to allow entry for all.
When the ADA law was created, it was intended to set standards for physical spaces. As the internet grew and morphed and took on increasing importance in our everyday lives, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) launched its Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
A set of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created, principles intended to ensure the availability and usability of online content by the disabled. This provided a sort of work-around while the government and courts debated the fate of ADA compliance and technology. The current standard version, WCAG 2.0, was published on December 11, 2008.
Exactly one year ago on March 20, 2017, a final ruling was made: compliance is mandatory.
One year ago today, almost thirty years after the advent of the internet, the United States Access Board’s updates to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 came into full effect, mandating the use of WCAG 2.0 standards and setting an expected compliance date of January 18, 2018.
As of today, every government agency, public service, or business which contracts with a government agency is required to be compliant with these standards; furthermore, even those businesses which fall outside the purview of 508 compliance may find themselves open to an ADA-related lawsuit.
What does this mean for your website?
It means that your website and content must be four things: Perceivable (available in multiple forms, easy to access); Operable (navigable website); Understandable (readable, practical, consistent); and Robust (people and robots can read your content).
There is an extensive list of steps to get your website ADA compliant, and we won’t lie to you, it takes work. If you decide to take on compliance solo, you may want to take a look at where it all began: World Wide Web Consortium WCAG Web Accessibility Initiative.
If you decide you’d like some backup, TechArk is here to help. Following our recent work for the Naval Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union website compliance, we’re proud to say we are experts in ADA compliance.
If you’re concerned about the new guidelines and want to make sure your website is ADA compliant please reach out to the programmers, developers, and software engineer superheroes at TechArk. Fill in the form below to get started, or if you’re an existing customer, email us at Support@GoTechArk.com.
Does your website play by the rules, or break them? Now that ADA compliance is mandatory, it’s time to shape up … or power down.