What is Website Accessibility?
Website accessibility is an ongoing commitment to making the web more inclusive for all people including those with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities.
At SIDEARM, we take accessibility very seriously and we have a dedicated team to help. If your team are working through accessibility concerns and need support, just reach out to SIDEARM support at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Does Our Site Need to be Accessible?
While there is specific legal information about why sites must be ADA compliant (see below) the simple fact is that it is the right thing to do. SIDEARM cares deeply about making the web a more inclusive space, and we go to great lengths to ensure web content is accessible to all
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is a civil rights law that requires certain entities to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to public services and accommodations.
Title II of the ADA prohibits disability discrimination by all public entities at the local and state level. Agencies such as schools, courts, police departments, and any government entity must comply with Title II regulations as outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice, regardless of whether they receive federal funds. More specifically, Title II states public institutions may not refuse to allow a student to participate in an activity on the basis of disability and requires reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.
Both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II are enforced by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
Title III of the ADA applies to commercial entities and “public accommodations,” which include most places of lodging, recreation, entertainment, transportation, education, and medical care, among other things. Under Title III, no individual may be discriminated against based on disability regarding the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.
Public-facing websites everywhere, including those of public universities, are increasingly being considered places of public accommodation by disability rights groups, courts, and official government entities. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) from both public and private universities have been considered places of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA in recent court cases.
Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)
A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document that explains the level of accessibility conformance of a specific software product.
Learn More: VPAT: Information Technology Industry Council
New websites and those undergoing redesign are being developed with accessibility in mind.
Prioritization of work is based on external factors such as deadlines imposed by the client’s institution, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and third-party lawsuits.
Due to the importance and sensitivity of web accessibility, SIDEARM Sports limits the number of websites being worked on simultaneously for accessibility to ensure a higher level of quality.
During remediation, our Accessibility team will provide you with documentation for accessibility issues within the content of your website. Since these changes can significantly improve the accessibility of your site, we anticipate that you will make those changes within the CMS as time allows. SIDEARM recommends focusing on content issues from the current year and then working backward. Issues that are older than 5 years are a lower priority than newer content issues. If you need assistance addressing any of the content issues, you can reach out to our Support team for guidance.It is difficult for us to estimate exactly how long the accessibility remediation of a site will take to be completed as there are several factors that can affect it, most importantly the site's unique design and formatting. Typically, sites that have been without a redesign for a longer period take longer to ensure compliance. Depending on the site's age, it may be recommended to redesign instead of remediating your current site.
Identifying Accessibility Issues
Our specialized accessibility development team crawls websites using Siteimprove, SortSite, and Axe Dev tools, to identify accessibility issues. Key areas of the website are also manually scanned by our accessibility team.
Learn more: Siteimprove.com, SortSite
Our goal is to make all website content accessible with the keyboard alone. Many features on our websites require modification to source code at various levels to accomplish this.
Images and Icons
All images and icons included in the design and layout will have descriptive alternative text attached to them. Note: Content providers are responsible for providing adequate alternative text for images uploaded into the CMS.
We are working to improve the contrast of text and icons while preserving brand identity. Clients will be contacted if brand colors are used in a way that makes contrast remediation difficult without drastically altering the design. Our target is to have all text meet the minimal 4.5:1 contrast ratio no matter the font size. This is a slight step above WCAG 2.1 AA.
Note: Content providers are still responsible for the accessibility of the colors they maintain in the CMS.
Page Titles and Headings
We are working to ensure that all pages have a unique title and level 1 and 2 headings applied to them.
Note: Content providers are still responsible for the accessibility of page titles and headings they maintain in the CMS.
Regions and iFrames
We are working to ensure that all primary page regions and iFrames and labeled properly. External advertisements are difficult for us to make compliant as we have little to no control over their content. Clients are responsible for adding titles to any iFrames that they add via the CMS. Clients also need to ensure that their uploaded documents have titles.
Video Captioning (YouTube Only)
Captioning of videos is currently only available via the native YouTube embedded interface. Enabling this in the platform disables the pre-roll advertisement interface. Clients are responsible for reading through the captions on their YouTube videos to ensure accuracy.
Google Custom Search is being added to sites that do not already have one. Search is an effective way of providing an alternative way for users to navigate content.
What do we need to do to ensure our site remains ADA compliant?
While SIDEARM continues to implement overall changes to help all clients meet the highest standards, we often get questions about what our clients can do themselves to ensure that their sites are continuing to meet accessibility standards. It is recommended that all web professionals well versed in the standards set forth in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and utilize best practices in publishing to the web.
For additional ADA support please contact email@example.com