Why ADA Compliance Is Important for Websites and the new WCAG 2.2 Requirements Taking Effect in 2021.
December 15, 2020
Website accessibility is becoming increasingly important for business owners. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, in 1990, Congress took important steps to accommodate people with disabilities―now fully 15% of the US population. But the internet of 1990 was not the major social and economic channel we all rely on today. So, over the past few years, many U.S. businesses have been struggling to understand their legal requirements and comply with the ADA.
WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is a set of parameters used in the digital world to ensure that people with disabilities, such as low-vision or visually impaired, are given the same opportunities that are provided to the non-disabled. Users can utilize screen readers to help make content on websites more accessible and understandable.
WCAG 2.0 was published in 2008, and updated Version 2.1 in 2018. That year saw a nearly 200% increase, over 2017, in the number of lawsuits targeting websites for their failure to comply with the ADA Act.
A website that serves all customers is good for business and the right thing to do. Additionally, Google ranks sites with enhanced usability higher in search engine rankings. And, good ADA programming could save your business thousands in legal costs.
The new version of WCAG, Version 2.2, is set to release Summer 2021 and these practices could help you get ahead of the curve. Here’s what we know about the update:
History & Growth of ADA Compliance
While website litigation has been steadily increasing, it wasn’t until 2017 when the grocery chain Winn Dixie was the first ADA website case to go to trial. That seemed to fuel the surge of ADA website accessibility litigation. The court held that Winn Dixie’s website violated the ADA because it was not sufficiently accessible to visually impaired customers.
To learn more about the history of website accessibility and its relation to the ADA, read our article about Website ADA Compliance.
To learn more about WCAG, read our article, What Is WCAG and What Does it Have to Do With the ADA.
Changes to Rule Importance
There are three different levels of WCAG compliance: level A, level AA, and level AAA. Level A is the most basic, with levels AA and AAA having subsequentially more parameters the site must satisfy in order to reach that level of accessibility.
Focus Appearance is the ability for web users to visually see a “box” around the element of a website which is selected. This requirement has moved from an ‘AA’ requirement to an ‘A’ requirement. This change in requirement level means it is a basic requirement for websites to meet. Keep in mind, elements with active focus appearance should be visible with at least a 1px (1 pixel) border around all sides of the focused element, or by an 8px (8 pixel) border on the left side.
The blue box around Financials is an example of Focus Appearance. To view this in action, use the Tab key to move through the website https://jacksoncountyfl.gov/.
What’s New in WCAG Version 2.2
Fixed Reference Points
Some web-accessible documents, like e-books and PDF files, use fixed reference points to determine where content is located, such as page numbers or a table of contents. Links to specific pages should be embedded in a way that increasing the text size will not affect page links from the table of contents.
Element Dragging Capabilities
On the back end of many websites, you are able to arrange content sections by dragging and dropping elements, such as text boxes, buttons, photos, etc. For sites with this capability, there must also be an alternate method allowing users to perform drag-and-drop tasks without the use of a mouse. To do this, you must feature up and down arrows which allow keyboard-only users to rearrange elements.
Pointer/Tap Target Spacing
Pointer and tap targets are elements of a website which can be clicked on to follow an action. By properly sizing and spacing these elements, users with disabilities can easily and accurately navigate a website. Having a larger clickable area makes elements easier to click on. Elements must have a width and height of at least 44 pixels for Level AA compliance.
On each page of a website, contact information, live chat, or self-help documents must be easily found and consistently placed.
Controls to complete a process must be visible at all times. For example, when filling out a form, the “submit” button must be in plain sight at all times. This rule also requires that users do not have to meet certain conditions, such as hovering over a specific location with the mouse or scrolling to a specific page location in order for page elements to appear.
User Authentication (log in and log out) processes must be accessible in a way that does not require a cognitive function test. This is any task that requires a user to remember, manipulate, or transcribe information.
Forms which require users to input redundant information should either be auto-populated or available for the user to select.
The Future of ADA Compliance & Web Accessibility
WCAG 2.2 takes effect as the requirement in 2021 and increasingly more and more websites are moving in this direction. When you make your website WCAG compliant, you are providing access to all customers. Bringing your website up to these standards ensures ease of use and an optimal user-experience.
At KMA, we’ve helped many clients ranging from real estate agencies to Clerks of Court, non-profits, healthcare providers, and more make their websites more ADA compliant through design expertise and monthly maintenance plans. If you are unsure where your website stands, we have a team of professionals who would be happy to provide you with a comprehensive review, request an ADA Compliance Review of your website. Or, if you know you need immediate help, request a Website Accessibility Compliance Estimate. We’re ready when you are.