Web Accessibility and ADA Compliance
What is ADA Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. Simply stated, ADA compliance means we make every effort to ensure the context and content of all items on the website can be accessed by those with visual, manual or hearing impairments.
Why do we need to make our content accessible?
To comply with the ADA, documents posted online must be screen-reader friendly. Screen-reader software is a form of assistive technology that reads a screen's display aloud to the user.
In addition, all multimedia resources must be captioned. Captioned media displays the audio content of a program as text on-screen, is synchronized with the dialogue of the speaker, and includes auditory information such as sound-effects. This provides accessibility for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, while also benefiting individuals with diverse learning abilities and whose primary language is not English.
How does assistive technology work?
Assistive Technologies (AT) screen readers help disabled individuals use any website. These tools, often built into specialized web browsers, can automatically read text and describe the content of images for the blind, expand text size or control screen color contrasts for people with impaired vision, or allow deaf users to receive a translation of an audio transmission. For assistive technologies to work; however, the web page must be created following either Section 508 or W3C standards.
What are my options for making files accessible?
Accessible documents have an established reading order, as well as visual elements that are tagged with alternative text descriptions. These features are needed for assistive technology to comprehensively and accurately communicate the information to the reader.
Below are some options for web accessibility and making files accessible:
- Create a web page containing your information rather than posting a document. If inserting photos or design elements, you must provide alternative text to tag the images. By tagging the images, the information you are communicating is both screen-reader friendly and visually appealing.
- Create an accessible version of your file. See the Resources and Tutorials section for instructions on how to to make various files accessible, as well as other helpful tutorials, guidelines, and evaluation tools.
- Tag a PDF of your document. (this can be more time consuming than creating a web page.) Tagging a PDF allows the screen reader to read the main text and alternative image text in the correct order. Adobe Acrobat Pro is required to do this. Go to WebAIM's website or the Resources and Tutorials section to learn how to tag a PDF.