Compliance With Ada And Wcag Guidelines – How And Why?

Off-late the recent updates on software and product development have been stressing on compliance with ADA and WCAG.

Off-late the recent updates on software and product development have been stressing on compliance with ADA and WCAG.

So, what are ADA and WCAG guidelines? ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act is legal requirements in businesses and government agencies regarding people living with disabilities. WCAG or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines defines how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines though are mandatory for the public institutions, it is advisable that the private sector also follow the same considering the social and economic reasons.

One of the main reasons to come up with such guidelines is keeping in mind the baby boomer generation, who is close to retirement. Considering the huge number of people it accounts to, web content compliance becomes necessary. In addition, according to research 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability and this seems to be a little higher in the United States of America. With such wide range of reasons and with evolving technology, it does become imperative to make technology accessible to all.

Most customers today are online. E-commerce is booming like never before and the retails business is happening online. Entrepreneurs must therefore consider the impact of not having a site with web accessibility. Accessibility should be an integral part of an organization, as with growing population every individual – irrespective of their background, disability or experiences, would expect to access the web just like anyone else. It thus becomes mandatory for website and user interface designers to follow the conditions of WCAG to finally becomes available to everyone equally. Another issue with an inaccessible site is search-ability. With the number of people ageing and people with disabilities increasing year on year, complying with WCAG 2.0 is necessary to gain authority and trust with search engines and ensure easy access to your website for more traffic.

How do you check for web content accessibility? Well, there are quite a few tools and accessibility services to help you review your site for availability and accessibility guidelines. A few pointers to ensure WCAG compliance is met: 

  1. Information and design should be perceivable by any customer
  2. Navigation must be operable and alternative navigation should be available
  3. Information must be understandable and easy to grasp
  4. Content on the website must be robust and reliable

 A few best practices to ensure the site is accessible are as follows:

  1. Use alt tags – Converts images and non-text content into audio, thus helping describing images to anyone who can't see.
  2. Subtitles – Helps customers with hearing disabilities to understand videos being streamed.
  3. Periods – Screen readers cannot perceive abbreviations without periods.
  4. Click range – Smaller click ranges can be difficult for people with mobility issues.
  5. Accessibility guide – Helps understand how to access web content

Though a compromise must be arrived at between the design features and guiding principles, it is important to create a reliable site and designers need to be encouraged to aim at accessibility during the process of design and development.

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