Making Websites More Accessible
Around 26 percent of U.S. adults, or 61 million people, currently live with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To ensure equal access to information and communication for all individuals, the U.S. Department of Justice issued new guidelines in 2022 to prompt state and local governments and
public-facing businesses to modernize their websites for disabled visitors. To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), websites must be accessible to all people with disabilities, following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as the standard for accessibility (updated to 2.1 in 2018). While compliance with WCAG is not a legal requirement, it is widely followed and serves as the international standard for web accessibility. The consequences of noncompliance may include lawsuits, exposing an organization to discrimination lawsuits, potential financial liabilities, and damage to its reputation.
Large enterprises and government organizations increasingly embrace website modernization to keep pace with changing technology, ensure optimal user experience, and comply with evolving accessibility guidelines. This involves upgrading legacy systems, adopting contemporary design standards, implementing new security measures, and optimizing for mobile devices. The goal is to create a seamless, user-friendly experience that meets the needs of all visitors, including those with disabilities.
What Is Website Modernization?
Website modernization is making a website compliant with accessibility standards for individuals with physical, vision, or hearing impairments and cognitive, language, or learning disabilities. Overall, modernization is a complex process requiring attention to many factors, including accessibility, design, functionality, security, and compliance. Remediation activities are intended to correct the site’s accessibility deficiencies.
What Are Some Examples of Poor Accessibility?
- Poor color contrast
- Use of color alone to give information (it won’t work for color-blind people)
- Lack of text alternatives (alt text) on images
- No captions on videos
- Inaccessible online forms
- Mouse-only navigation (lack of keyboard navigation)
- Homepage fails WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria (SC) 1.2.2, “Captions (Prerecorded)” because our promotional videos do not have accurate captions.
- eStore fails WCAG 2.1 SC 3.3.2, “Labels or Instructions” because the shipping form does not include examples of acceptable input for form fields.
- Header fails WCAG 2.1 SC 1.4.3, “Contrast (Minimum)” because the text fails to meet the recommended contrast ratio of at least 4.5.1.
Addressing the accessibility issues on your website will improve the entire user experience, and you will have a modernized website. Modernization can boost key performance indicators for websites and applications such as bounce rate, time on page, unique visitors, and potentially, e-commerce transactions.
Why Does Accessibility Matter for IT Teams?
For senior IT leaders, website accessibility is a compliance and cybersecurity issue. Failing to comply with regulations could result in breaches and costly lawsuits for an organization. For disabled citizens, web content that is not accessible can limit their ability to access critical information, prompting the justice department to deem web accessibility mandatory, not optional.
Whom Does Website Accessibility Affect?
Disabled people rely on state and federal government websites for daily activities such as voting, acquiring health and safety information, planning routes, and scheduling. Ensuring that sites are accessible, secure, and compliant with a friendly user experience is crucial to empower the disabled to participate fully in society.
Website Accessibility Is Now a Requirement
In March 2022, the Justice Department passed new accessibility regulations to governments (state and federal) and organizations of all sizes that are open to the public. Any organization that does not meet the security and compliance requirements risks potential legal liabilities.
The Americans With Disabilities Act provides specific security and compliance requirements, including accessibility guidelines for public-facing websites. In the ADA, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act details accessibility requirements for public websites.
Vision & Goals for Website Accessibility
VITA has outlined a vision for making websites more accessible, and we at AISN are committed to meeting that standard. Websites that comply with VITA’s guidelines will provide a superior user experience for citizens and offer easy access to information and services by giving language that we adhere to at AISN. Organizations that create websites that meet the VITA standards will:
- Provide a superior user experience for citizens.
- Offer easy access to information and services by providing language options and accessibility support.
- Ensure security and accessibility for all users.
- Train teams on creating and maintaining modern websites and provide all necessary knowledge resources, including access to templates, checklists, on-site demos, and tools to support website modernization projects.
By adhering to VITA’s standards, we guarantee that every website modernization project delivered by AISN meets the highest expectations for quality. However, website modernization is not a straightforward process since it involves several complex factors that fall under senior IT managers’ purview. This process is essential to ensure that public-facing websites comply with current accessibility, security, and compliance requirements.
How AISN Can Help: Our Solution
As leaders in website modernization, we can help you align with a wide array of security and compliance regulations relating to the ADA laws. With a deep resource bench and plenty of experience completing many projects for government and enterprise organizations, we help senior IT leaders navigate ADA accessibility requirements to free them up for higher-priority strategic projects.
We invite you to visit our compliant website development page to learn more about our web development services, including ADA compliance.
Should you have any questions or concerns about your website modernization projects, contact our team, and we can walk you through the various options.