Have you ever thought what it would be like to browse a website if you could only see half of the text?  What about browsing a website without the ability to use a mouse or trackpad?  How about browsing a website with no vision at all?  While not limited to the above examples, these are some of the accessibility issues that are encountered on a daily basis for people with disabilities.  If you are a product stakeholder, ask yourself – what are you doing to plan for these accessibility issues?  Or as Developer/UI Designer, how are you taking these into account when building new Digital experiences?  Fortunately, there are tools to use and guidelines to follow to ensure you meet accessibility standards. 

First, let’s talk about 508, ADA and WCAG2. All generally have the same goal of making your site more accessible and usable for people with disabilities, but each is slightly different. 

Section 508 Compliance

This is a federal law that requires all digital and electronic technology utilized, owned, or maintained by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.  You can find more specific information about 508 Compliance here.   

American Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance

ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.  The ADA requires that all businesses, state and local government, and nonprofits accommodate the disabled public. Additional information on the ADA can be found here 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

WCAG standards is a set of standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to formalize the development of accessible digital content.  The primary focus of WCAG is around HTML usage.  While WCAG has no legal authority, it is widely accepted as the accessibility standard for the web.  Read more about WCAG here 

So, knowing the 3 types of accessibility guidelines, you might be wondering “Do I need to be accessible?”  Generally speaking, it’s a best practice to follow the minimum standard of accessibility so you aren’t isolating some of your users. It might be easy to categorize web accessibility as a nice-to-have, but it’s actually an important component of UX.  It’s how site visitors experience your organization online and neglecting your audience is well, negligent.  In other words, everyone should follow WCAG because it directly relates to your UX.   

Furthermore, if you are categorized in any of the following groups, you are required to be accessible by law:

508: 

  • Government agencies 
  • Federally funded nonprofit 
  • Public schools (K-12 and higher education) 
  • Any organizations that do business directly with federal government 

ADA:

Any business that is considered a “public accommodation” – for example:  

  • Hotels 
  • Restaurants 
  • Gyms
  • Healthcare Providers 
  • Public Transport 
  • Grocery Stores 
  • And More… 

Okay, so if you fall into the “I need to be compliant” bucket or just want to follow WCAG to ensure a usable experience for all of your site visitors, what’s next?  There are plenty of tools available online (at no cost) to run a cursory scan of your site to identify areas needing remediation. While they won’t provide an in-depth analysis, they will give you an idea of how accessible your site is in its current state and where you can fix some basic things to improve your accessibility.  

If you already know your site doesn’t meet standards and you’re ready to address specific issues, we can conduct a much more detailed analysis and determine next best steps for resolution. Our Usability experts get their energy from making accessible, usable experiences and we love helping our clients achieve that goal.  We’d love to put our expertise to work for you. 

Give us a shout if you need support running an initial scan, if you’d like to do a more thorough review of your site to determine gaps, or if you’re interested in learning more about enhancing your UX – whether via improving web accessibility or otherwise.  Director of Digital Services

You May Also Like These Topics