Understanding Web Accessibility
Regulations and Standards
Web accessibility is the practice of maintaining a website that is accessible to the largest audience possible, including individuals with disabilities. Disabilities of all types can hinder a user’s ability to navigate a website, however using a validation tool and following proper coding standards can improve the accessibility of your website.
Yes! The financial impact on your corporate web presence goes well beyond the legal liability of discriminating against individuals with a disability. Any company that is operating a business online, or has a web presence, should ensure their website is accessible to individuals with a disability. Providing an accessible website will open the door to new customers, as well as, improve your search engine optimization and other aspects of your website.
Thousands of companies are feeling both the financial impact and negative press for failing to have a website that is not accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Some policies may cover your legal defense of Title III claim as well as the and financial judgment. Many policies do not cover violations of state and federal regulations, such as a discrimination claim.
Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) – is a community of individuals and member companies from across the globe whom jointly develop international standards for the internet. The organization was founded by Tim Berners-Lee.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are guidelines created and published by W3C. The guidelines outline standards that should be followed to make website content accessible to individuals with disabilities. The W3C has released a series of standards; they include WCAG 1.0, WCAG 2.0.
The WCAG 1.0 became public on 5/5/1999.
WCAG 1.0 lists 14 WCAG 1.0 consist 14 principles to follow to make a website more accessible. WCAG 1.0 contains 65 checkpoints and priority levels A, AA, and AAA, to measure, and rate, the accessibility of a website for individuals with disabilities.
On December 11, 2008, WCAG 2.0 was published by W3C. There four pillars (websites must be operable, understandable, perceivable and robust) that contain 12 guidelines.
Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that was later amended in 1998 via the Workforce Investment Act. Section 508 requires that electronic information technology that is used, maintained or procured by the federal government be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The scope of Section 508 does not apply to the private sector; it is limited to the federal sector. WCAG guidelines apply to all websites online and are strongly encouraged to ensure accessibility and to avoid discrimination lawsuits.
The standards of Section 508 provide criteria specific to various types of technologies, including – Software applications and operating systems – Web-based applications and information – Telecommunication products – Multimedia and Video – Self-contained, closed products (e.g. calculators, information kiosks and fax machines) – Desktop and laptop computers.
The law has an administrative process for individuals with disabilities to file a complaint if a federal agency does not comply with Section 508.
Does Section 508 apply to recipients of federal funds? No, nor does it impose requirements on the recipients of Federal funds except for activities carried out in a State under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended under section 4(d)(6)(G) of that Act.