Rocky Mountain ADA Center Provides Tips for Building Accessible Websites

DOJ Considering Applying ADA Accessibility Guidelines to Websites
 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - April 29, 2013 - PRLog -- The U.S. Department of Justice may soon be updating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with broader guidelines on website accessibility. Once enforced, these new rules will expand the degree to which the ADA applies to public websites, including state and local government and online shopping websites.

In preparation for these changes, the Rocky Mountain ADA Center is sharing ways small businesses can make their websites more accessible for customers with disabilities. The ADA Center provides information and training on the ADA to individuals and organizations throughout a six state region including Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

The following are a few tips that you or your website developer can implement now to make your website more accessible:

1.      Provide alternative text for non-text elements when the non-text elements are meaningful to the content of the page.

Non-text elements include images, graphical representations of text (including symbols), images used as list bullets, spacers, graphical buttons, sounds (played with or without user interaction), stand-alone audio files, audio tracks of video and video.

If an image or other non-text element adds meaning to the page, then use the alt attribute to provide alternative text. If it does not add meaning, then alternative text is unnecessary to a screen-reader user.

2.      Use heading elements, <H1> to <H6>.

Since some visually impaired web users skim through a document by navigating its headings, it is important to use them appropriately to convey document structure. This can be accomplished by:

·         Ordering the header elements properly. For example, in HTML, H2 elements should follow the H1 element, and H3 elements should follow H2 elements, and so on. Content developers should not “skip” levels (e.g., H1 directly to H3).

·         Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) instead of heading elements to change font sizes or styles.

3.      Include a well-positioned label for each field on a form (the “what-am-I-supposed-to-fill-in-here?” guideline).

It is important that websites properly place and label text fields in online forms. For blind or low-vision web users, it can be challenging to know what information is required in a text field on a form. In the case of checkboxes and radio buttons, it is also challenging not to know if the box that is checked or button that is chosen is actually the one associated with the correct label.

For more information on website accessibility and an overview of the key principles of accessible design, visit WebAIM (http://www.webaim.org/intro/). Business owners, operators and web developers who are interested in learning more about these new website requirements under the ADA can expect to hear of the Department of Justice’s proposed rule changes by the end of the year. The first round of rulemaking for state and government websites is scheduled for July 2013. A second round will define accessibility standards for public websites in December 2013. For information and updates on these rule changes, visit www.adainformation.org.

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities under the ADA, you can contact the ADA Center at adainfo@adainformation.org or (800) 949-4232.

About the Rocky Mountain ADA Center
The Rocky Mountain ADA Center is operated by Meeting the Challenge, Inc. and provides information, training and informal guidance to individuals and organizations with rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Center is one of 10 regional centers funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, and serves a six-state region including Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.adainformation.org.
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