Web accessibility, in general, is the practice of removing barriers that people with disabilities encounter when navigating a web site. Kinetic has been a leader in digital accessibility from the start, and we have been able to build several projects to date, including a modification for people with disabilities to play drums on the popular video game, Rock Band. What we have found is that, while specifically targeting the challenges faced by people with disabilities, accessibility improves the user experience universally, helping all users navigate and understand your site.
To give you a little more information, when people talk about web accessibility, they are generally speaking about two sets of requirements: those set forth in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and those set forth in 2010 in the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. Section 508 currently applies to all federal government agencies and their various digital presences. As you probably know, the ADA, under Title II, applies to state and local government agencies, and under Title III, applies in all public accommodations and commercial facilities.
We have seen an increase in companies paying more attention to website accessibility for a variety of reasons, some of them being the legal ramifications of non-compliance. For example, Target, a retailer with online operations heavily integrated with their physical store, made their website accessible and ADA compliant as a result of a lawsuit by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). The judge ruled in the NFB’s favor after seeing that Target’s website was a “place of public accommodation” and thus fell under Title III of the ADA. Based on this legal precedent and other similar cases, The Department of Justice laid out the Standards for Accessible Design in 2010.
The guidelines set forth in Section 508 are consistent with the standards published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0. These standards are currently being updated to remain consistent with the new WCAG documentation, called WCAG 2.0. Currently, while the DOJ has outlined the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, they have not handed down specific guidelines and have delayed their proposed rules until 2018. As part of their considerations, the DOJ is seriously considering relying on the WCAG standards as their official guidelines.
The WCAG is a targeted set of guidelines, and there are three levels of WCAG compliance – Level A, AA, and AAA. As you’d expect, each level requires a different, greater amount of accessibility to be addressed. Kinetic sees the value in these guidelines and in general accessibility for all users. Therefore, we already build our custom sites to include several of the basics that make up Level A. Unofficially, the DOJ recommends that entities that must be compliant with Title II and Title III of the ADA, follow the Level AA standards published in WCAG 2.0, and we have assisted quite a few of the affected entities reach this level of compliance.
Whatever the reason you are considering accessibility and whether you need to comply with Level A, Level AA, or even Level AAA, Kinetic stands ready to help you understand and meet the increasingly rigorous standards.