UsableNet.com ‘s research team has been tracking 2018 federally filed ADA web accessibility-related lawsuits. In 2018, they tracked 2285 lawsuits - up 181% over 2017 which had 814. This is serious. Businesses ignore accessibility at their own risk.
In case you need a refresher… per Wikipedia, “Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of ensuring there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, generally all users have equal access to information and functionality.
Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies (including software and apps) are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can: perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web.
There are so many things to consider and protocols to follow to make a compliant and accessible website or app. For example, the following two are often overlooked and can cause problems for users and providers.
Color. It’s not something that people without visual impairment usually consciously consider, but when creating an accessible website or app, it is important to use color carefully.
The most common form of color deficiency, red-green color deficiency, affects approximately 8% of the population. Using only colors on the red/green spectrum, for example, when indicating required fields in a form, will prevent these individuals from understanding what is happening on the site or in the app.
In addition, users with learning disabilities can benefit greatly from color when it is systematically used to distinguish and organize your content. To ensure that content is accessible regardless of the usage of color, it is important to use other visual indicators, such as an asterisk or question marks. White spaces and borders can also be used with great effect to distinguish blocks of content from one another and create visual separation.
Another very important feature to consider is to ensure that all content can be logically accessed with the keyboard alone. Think about this.
Users with various mobility disabilities may not be able to use a mouse or trackpad. Being able to access content through the use of a keyboard by pressing the “tab” or “arrow” keys, or through the use of alternative input devices such as single-switch input or mouth stick can mean the difference between access or inaccessible. It is important to consider continuity of function. For example, the tab order should match the visual order, so keyboard-only users can logically navigate through site content.
Long pages with a lot of content can be overwhelming to many people, even those without a disability. Sections of text should be broken up with anchor links (jump lists) which allow keyboard-only users to skip to relevant portions of the page without having to negotiate through other content. A “Skip to main content” option should be provided at the top of every page so keyboard-only users won’t have to tab through the page navigation to get the main content.
These are just two examples of features that have to be considered when building or adapting a website or app to be accessible. It is a big undertaking, but it’s the right thing to do, and it is the law.