If you’ve ever run a Google search for ‘web accessibility’, ‘accessible web application’, or anything similar, chances are you’ve come across the phrase ‘ADA compliance’. And it makes sense that this phrase is catching on. With accessibility lawsuits on the rise, companies looking to improve their web accessibility want to make absolutely sure that the services they purchase will protect them. There are, after all, plenty of companies and services out there claiming to offer a quick fix where one simply does not exist.
Websites are public places. As such, they are subject to the same accessibility requirements as any other public place. These matters are general handled by the ADA—and the web is no exception to that. However, unlike with traditional public places, the practice of regulating accessibility for the web is still relatively new. And as such, there is no official standard of ADA compliance for the web. And there likely won’t be one for at least another year.
So What Does ADA Compliance Mean?
In recent lawsuits, the ADA has commonly referred to WCAG 2.0 AA as a general outline for web accessibility. It’s fairly safe to say that any site that adheres to these guidelines can be considered ADA compliant. Refutable accessibility vendors will generally adhere to this standard—or a later version of WCAG. So if your goal is to ensure that your project works properly as an accessible web application, WCAG 2.0 AA is a good reference point.
ADA compliance as a topic, however, is a bit less cut and dry. The ADA has explicitly stated that given the lack of official guidelines, they will afford private entities a reasonable amount of flexibility when it comes to creating an equal experience. And while WCAG 2.0 AA is a comprehensive and effective standard, it won’t always fit perfectly with every project. There will inevitably be situations where a site might be deemed accessible by the ADA while not necessarily meeting all of the requirements of WCAG 2.0 AA.
ADA compliance and web accessibility as a whole can be ambiguous topics. So it’s a good idea to find an accessibility expert or accessibility consultant that you can trust. And remember, accessibility isn’t just about meeting standards and avoiding lawsuits. An accessible site or accessible web application can open doors for you business.