ADA Web Site Compliance
An important step in making your web site accessible is to understand the laws regarding accessibility. However, most people often interchange the two major accessibility standards in the United States: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508.
It is true that both of these standards focus on accessibility. But they are two entirely different things. ADA is a federal law made in 1990, while Section 508 is only a component of a law known as the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973. To further differentiate these two accessibility standards, we provide a definition of Section 508 in one of our previous posts.
Now that we have distinguished these two accessibility standards, let us focus on the ADA and what it says about web accessibility. We’ll also point out the benefits you would get from ADA web site compliance.
ADA and Web Accessibility
The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA was passed by the US Congress in 1990. ADA’s main objective is “to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, programs and services provided by state and local governments, goods and services provided by private companies, and in commercial facilities.”
Once it was signed to law, ADA became a huge factor in making facilities more accessible to persons with disabilities. Examples of these changes include Braille instructions on elevators and wheelchair ramps in certain buildings.
And as the Internet became more prevalent, the US government realized that ADA should also apply to web sites. In 1996, the US Department of Justice made the following statement:
“Covered entities under the ADA are required to provide effective communication, regardless of whether they generally communicate through print media, audio media, or computerized media such as the Internet. Covered entities that use the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods, or services must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means as well.”
In simple terms, ADA states that a company that has 15 or more employees is considered as a “covered entity”. So to achieve ADA web site compliance, a company under this category must ensure that all information and features of its site can be accessed easily by persons with disabilities.
Legal Benefits of ADA Web Site Compliance
Persons with disabilities who find it difficult to access a web site can use the ADA as basis for making a legal complaint against the site’s owner. You therefore can ensure that you would avoid any legal complaints from users if you make your site ADA compliant.
This definitely proves that making your site ADA compliant not only makes your site accessible to all users but it also helps you avoid costly legal problems.