WordPress ADA Compliance Plugin
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and has changed how buildings are constructed, students are taught in schools, and even how parking lots and cars are designed. The ADA has also changed how to design websites.
Federal agencies and departments must develop and maintain websites and information technology that is accessible to all people, whether or not regardless of their abilities. However, all companies and digital communications should consider following the guidelines.
What is Section 508?
Section 508 was part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 1998 that required all electronic and information technology to be accessible to all people, including those with disabilities. Because technology evolves and advances, it was updated in 2017 to cover any gaps from the previous version when certain technologies weren’t around yet.
What is the Telecommunications Act of 1996?
The Act allowed anyone who wanted to engage in any communications business to compete in the marketplace and has affected the way people socialize, learn and work by being able to provide cable and broadcast services to schools, governments, and other organizations.
Four Principles of WCAG
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were published in 2008 and then updated in 2018. There are four underlying principles that can help web developers to make their websites more accessible. These principles are:
- Perceivable: Have you ever heard the philosophical question “if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?” The idea is that in order for something to be a sound it must be perceived by the ear. If it is not perceived by a human sense organ, then it can’t be a sound by definition. It’s a thought experiment that illustrates this point: if you have a website with content that cannot be perceived visually or audibly, then you might as well not have a website at all.
- Operable: Can all of the functions on your website be performed with a keyboard or with a mouse, or do they need to be performed by specific technologies such as a microphone or joystick? Many people with disabilities use assistive technologies to operate websites and to input information so they can complete assignments, make purchases, or sign up on email lists. If your website is not optimized to work with assistive technology, then you will block a significant number of potential users from being able to access your website.
- Understandable: Even if users can perceive information on a webpage if the content isn’t clear and concise, buttons aren’t functional or if navigation is particularly confusing, then the website is not going to be very friendly to users. All of the content on your website must be logical, concise, and sensible.
- Robust: Users may not always have access to the latest technologies, or the latest technologies may not always be compatible with their devices, which may be very expensive to update or replace. Therefore, it is important for website developers to build webpages that can be used with slightly older technologies so that users are not blocked if they do not have the newest version of a browser, device, or operating system.
What are some WordPress ADA compliance plug-ins?
Now that you have a better understanding of what the law is and what guidelines to use to direct your decision-making while building a website, it’s time to look into what types of plug-ins you can use with WordPress in order to evaluate and improve your website’s accessibility.
This is not a WordPress ADA compliant plug-in, however, is a WordPress-recommended tool to test your website’s accessibility. The benefit of using WAVE is that you do not need to download and install a plug-in. It is very simple to do: just type your website’s URL into the “Address” box on their website, and your results will appear.
This plug-in is not only ADA-compliant but also checks for Section 508, explained earlier. After the plug-in has completed his analysis, it provides a report that summarizes its findings and filters in by webpage.
WP Accessibility Helper
WP Accessibility Helper allows you to not only see a report that summarizes its findings, but you can also make modifications to your website. This streamlines the optimization process. For example, you can change the font sizes to make it easier to read.