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WordPress ADA Compliance

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was passed to prohibit discrimination based on a disability in employment, education, public accommodations, telecommunications, transportation, and a number of other areas. While none of the areas in the Act necessarily pertain to websites, Section 508 requires that federal departments’ and agencies’ electronic and information technology must be accessible by people with disabilities. This includes web and non-web content such as PDF documents, word processing documents, and the company intranet.

Between 2017 and 2018 there was a 177% spike in the number of federal lawsuits filed against websites for ADA non-compliance. The plaintiffs claimed that they could not use certain websites because they were not built to work with assistive technologies that made them accessible to individuals with disabilities. Assistive technologies include:

  • Screen readers
  • Input speech software
  • Alternative input devices
  • Screen back magnification

ADA Compliance Improves The User Experience for All People

ADA compliance is beneficial for all people. At some point, many people will end up finding themselves temporarily disabled due to illness, surgery, or some other reason. This temporary disability can last a couple of days to even a couple of months. In the meantime, their ability to use the Internet is not affected when websites are made to work with assistive technology. 

In fact, features that help disabled individuals, such as captioning videos, can be beneficial for people who are accessing web content in places where they cannot turn up the volume. Making text stand out from the background color on a website, for example, makes it easier to read outside when viewing it on a tablet or smartphone on a sunny day. If you think about it, you may recall situations in your own online usage when you benefited from using a website that was optimized to be accessible for people with disabilities, such as anti-glare technology.

What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?

Web developers come from all over the world and what they create is accessed by people also from all over the world. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)  was developed in 2008 and revised in 2018 through the collective, international efforts of individuals, governments, and organizations to create a set of standards to make web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities. The content they refer to includes:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Sounds
  • Code
  • Markups that define the structure and presentation of a webpage or application

These guidelines were intended for website designers, webpage authors, and writers, such as bloggers, and anyone who needs to meet a certain standard of accessibility due to legal obligations.

What are some of the guidelines set by the WCAG?

In order to make information presentable and accessible to all users, there are some rules that have been laid out. A few of them include:

  • Providing alt text for non-text content, such as images with text that describes what is in the image accurately 
  • Providing large print, simple language, symbols or even braille for users who have difficulty reading text
  • Providing captions for all pre-recorded and live audio or video recordings
  • Not restricting content to either portrait or landscape view, unless such a display is essential
  • Colors are not to be used as the only means of indicating an action or prompting a response, or any other commands
  • All content is able to be accessed through a keyboard without requiring specific movements or timing of movements, or specific keystrokes, unless this is vital for the functioning of a certain operation, such as turning handwriting into text.

How WordPress Handles Accessibility

WordPress approaches website accessibility from two principles, which stem from the principles explained earlier: by addressing design standards and specific concerns. When WordPress develops new features or themes, they are built with the WCAG principles in mind so that websites made on WordPress are accessible. Secondly, WordPress tries to keep all of its websites accessible regardless of the platform, browser, or operating system from which the user is visiting a WordPress webpage.

WordPress ADA Compliance Plug-Ins

A website takes several weeks or even months to build, and some more complex websites may require changes over the years. Fortunately, there are a number of plug-ins that test your WordPress website to ensure that all of your efforts in building a website aren’t being wasted on something that’s not ADA compliant.

After your website is built, it is tested by not only our web developers here at On The Map, but you also get to test drive it yourself. But it may be difficult for our team members to notice fine details where there are accessibility problems. In order to ensure there are no “gaps,” automated tools are used to assess your WordPress website for ADA compliance. These tools are in no way a replacement for human judgment, but they do work well in conjunction with human monitoring to identify and report problems or inaccuracies.

There are a couple of popular and trusted tools that test for website accessibility that work really well with WordPress. Among the top of them are:

  • WAVE
  • Accessibility Suite
  • WP Accessibility Helper
  • WP ADA Compliance Check Basic

How On The Map Can Help You

We want to see our clients thrive in their industry. No matter what you do, you have to work with people. All of the design comes back around to how human beings will use it to live their lives, and when design approaches projects from that perspective, it’s hard to fail. At On The Map Marketing, we combine great aesthetic choices with intentional design to ensure that all of our clients’ audiences will be able to benefit from their website. We also provide a number of other services, including app development and CMS migration services, and can even write content for your website thanks to our team of writers.