In 1990 the United States Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order to ensure “access to employment, state and local government programs and services, access to places of public accommodations, transportation, non-profit service providers and telecommunications” for those with disabilities. Under this law, websites for local and state government must also be ADA-compliant, as they fall under the heading of “public services.” Here are ten of the things that an ADA-compliant website must feature.
- Text Equivalents For All Images – With one line of HTML code, assistive technologies for the vision-impaired can provide information about images on the page. This information should include a meaningful description of the image that includes the information that a sighted person would have access to by viewing the image.
- Documents Should Have a Text-Based Alternative – Though PDF files are the most popular choice for downloadable documents, all state and local government websites must also include an alternative text-based format, such as HTML or RTF, which are more compatible with assistive technologies.
- Customizable Font and Color Settings – Because people with low vision have differing needs regarding typeface, font size, and color, it’s necessary that users are able to manipulate the settings for these items within their browser settings.
- Video and Other Multimedia Must Be Accessible for Hearing and Vision Impaired Visitors – Websites that contain video and other multimedia offerings must provide both captions for hearing impaired visitors, and very detailed audio descriptions for those with vision impairments.
- “Skip Navigation” Links – A “skip navigation” link allows visitors who utilize screen readers to bypass navigation links and access webpage content directly.
- Animated Figures Can Be Paused – Any features that move, blink or are automatically-updating must have a “pause” or “stop” function available.
- Online Forms Are Accessible To Those With Vision Impairments – Online forms must be designed to include descriptive HTML tags in order to facilitate use by disabled persons. Visitors with impairments must be able to complete and submit these forms with assistive technology.
- Timed-Response Pages Have a Static Equivalent – Any pages that are automatically refreshing or require a timed response should include a static second copy in order to be ADA-compliant.
- Complex Pages Must Be Navigable – Titles, context, and other heading structures which help impaired users navigate pages using frames or are otherwise complicated are required to make pages accessible to those with disabilities.
- Contact Information – An email address or telephone number must be displayed for those with disabilities in order to provide them with assistance in the event of their having difficulty accessing any available information.
These are only a sampling of the Americans with Disabilities Act website requirements; as new technologies emerge, these elements are subject to change. More detailed information is available on the Americans with Disabilities Act website.