Nearly one in five Americans – among them, your clients, customers and colleagues – have some sort of disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is the milestone law that guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities – not just physical barriers such as wheelchair access, but website access as well. The Department of Justice has published standards which state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities.
While we recommend that everyone create, adopt and maintain a web accessibility policy, and follow the World Wide Web Consortium's accessibility guidelines, here are several things you can do right now:
Help the blind see your images: Because they only read text, screen readers and refreshable Braille displays cannot interpret photographs, charts, or other graphic elements on a webpage. Solution: add a text equivalent to every image; an “alt” tag for brief amounts of text, or a “longdesc” tag for large amounts of text.
Make your PDF documents accessible to everyone: PDF documents, or those in other image based formats, may not be accessible to people who use screen readers, text enlargement programs, or different color and font settings to read computer displays. Solution: post documents in a text-based format, such as HTML or RTF (rich text format) as well as a pdf.
Help people with low vision to see your webpages: Some people with low vision see only small portions of a computer display at one time, some cannot see small text or images, and some can only see content if it appears in specific colors. They may need to use high contrast settings, such as bold white or yellow letters on a black background, or the reverse: bold black text on a white or yellow background. Solution: allow low vision users to select colors and font sizes in their browsers and operating systems.
Be sure your web visitors can access your videos and slide shows: People who are deaf or hard of hearing may not be able to hear the audio track of a video; people who are blind or have low vision may be unable to see the video. Solution: include audio descriptions (of images), and text captions (synchronized with images) to make these popular multimedia features available.
There are many more ways to help people with disabilities navigate your site more easily, which we will address in a future blog.
The DOJ’s proposed amendments to the ADA are expected in 2018, and we will keep you posted. But really, make your website compliant because it’s good business! Why leave out nearly 20 percent of your potential customers, clients and colleagues?
For more information on enhancing your website, and your public relations efforts,
call the JPR group at (973)980-0100 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.