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What is Web Accessibility?
Web Accessibility is a very popular and necessary topic in today’s digital world. Having a well-designed, professional-looking website paired with engaging and informative content has always been critical to a brand’s online success. Web Accessibility is becoming a key part of that equation in many industries.
What Exactly Is It?
Web Accessibility [ web ak-ses-uh-bil-i-tee ] Noun
Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of ensuring there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites on the World Wide Web by people with physical disabilities, situational disabilities, and socio-economic restrictions on bandwidth and speed. When sites are correctly designed, developed, and edited, generally all users have equal access to information and functionality. 1
In short, it’s all the components of your website from the coding on the backend, to the images you see on the front end, working together to create a user-friendly and informative experience for everyone who visits it.
The Past & Present of Web Accessibility
It’s important to know the history to get a better understanding of how specific guidelines can affect your community websites, now and in the future.
- Flashback to 1990
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is passed. ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. 2
- 1996 and The Internet Boom has begun.
The internet is quickly growing and people are now beginning to create awareness and demand a change towards the inaccessibility of the web for those with disabilities. Two years later, the government listened.
In 1998, Section 508 was added to The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that required federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities, including both employees and members of the public.3
- It’s 2018.
On January 18, 2018, Section 508 was revised to federal agencies and contractors having to meet the newly adopted & official accessibility requirements as marked by the newly revised and official Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). 3
- Flash forward to today.
We’re seeing more companies, regardless of industry (and outside of government agencies), have legal cases brought upon them in regards to web accessibility compliance. This is because the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation, and websites are increasingly being interpreted in legal cases as such.
We’ve had clients reaching out to inquire about what it would take to meet a certain level of compliance for their community websites. If you want to learn more about web accessibility feel free to call us. Otherwise, stay tuned as we dive further into important guidelines to consider in Part 2 of our web accessibility blog series.
The Resite Online Team
1 Web accessibility. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_accessibility#References.
2 An Overview Of the Americans With Disabilities Act https://adata.org/factsheet/ADA-overview
3 IT Accessibility Laws and Policies https://www.section508.gov/manage/laws-and-policies