Don't Get Snagged on ADA Compliance Requirements
The lack of ADA website standard specifics and the continued delay of new regulations mean it can be hard to know what’s required of credit unions in terms of website accessibility. However, this doesn’t mean ignorance can be used as a shield against ADA compliance. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has become more diligent in the enforcement of ADA violations, and credit union compliance and risk staff, as well as the leadership team, would do well to learn more about ADA Title III regulations.
In the absence of updated ADA regulations, the globally recognized consensus for web accessibility is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG is published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, a standards organization for the internet, and operates on three conformance levels: A, AA and AAA. The highest level, AAA, will have the most impact on design and appearance of a website and may not be practical for every page.
WCAG 2.0 was announced in 2008 as a set of guidelines for web developers and is organized under four principles:
Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
- Guideline 1.1: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
- Guideline 1.2: Time-based media: Provide alternatives for time-based media.
- Guideline 1.3: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
- Guideline 1.4: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
User interface components and navigation must be operable.
- Guideline 2.1: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Guideline 2.2: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
- Guideline 2.3: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
- Guideline 2.4: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
- Guideline 3.1: Make text content readable and understandable.
- Guideline 3.2: Make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Guideline 3.3: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
Understanding these technical elements can provide an elementary baseline for auditing a website and implementing changes.
- Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
- Guideline 4.1: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.
According to Sean Bradley, president and chief technology officer at AudioEye, a technology firm that specializes in online accessibility, “Specifically, Level AA Success Criteria is the target benchmark that is commonly required in the context of ‘compliance’ as defined through the various legal mandates and precedents related to conforming with ADA Title III requirements.
“In order to conform with WCAG 2.0 AA, designers and developers must constantly benchmark their creations against the testable success criteria provided through these internationally recognized standards and best practices. Content publishers — those updating and publishing content to their website (commonly via a Content Management System) — must, also, benchmark their published materials against the same testable success criteria.”
Website compliance may not be top of mind for credit unions when creating or updating their website; however, it does affect how who can easily access the services and products offered on the site — and limiting your audience is never a good thing! Review the WCAG 2.0 criteria before making any updates to keep your web presence as accommodating as possible.
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