February 13, 2018
Your Higher Ed ADA Compliance Checklist
Is your website accessible to users with disabilities? Does it follow the requirements put in place by ADA Section 508? If you’re like a shocking majority of schools, it probably doesn’t. This can put your school at risk of a very costly lawsuit…one it will probably lose. Hundreds of complaints have been filed against educational institutions in 2017 and 2018. Make sure your school isn’t next.
This past January, the U.S. Access Board adopted the WCAG 2.0 standards, which clearly outline what is expected of every single website. Every organization, not just colleges and universities, should be developing web content that meets the comprehensive Level AA standards established by the World Wide Web Consortium, which means:
- Common barriers to disabled users should be addressed
- Full web pages must be made accessible, not just parts of them
- Pages must be compatible with assistance technology features
- Technology cannot interfere with information gathering by the user
On the surface, the rules may seem a little complex and broad. However, we’ve put together a checklist to help you understand what changes you need to make to your site so it meets these standards.
Use Alt Tags
For users who may be visually impaired, alt tags are labels and descriptions that help them understand the images accompanying your content. Screen readers read the alt tags out loud.
These alt tags should accompany every single image on your site. They should be accurate and relevant to the image. Also, try to add a keyword in the description. Doing so is great for SEO purposes.
Make Content Clearer
This is helpful for users with and without disabilities. Your website content should always be formatted in a way that makes it easy to comprehend. Give your pages clear titles and headings. Highlight links. Use clear navigation so users know where they are.
If you’re presenting information in charts, graphs, or tables, make sure they’re marked up properly so screen readers can pinpoint them. In addition, pie charts and number graphs are easier to understand if they’re accompanied by text descriptions.
Be Careful with Colors
In consideration of those who may be colorblind, be careful with the color combinations your website uses. Try not to use similar colors close together and never use contrasting colors like yellow, blue, and green alongside each other.
In doubt about your site’s color choices? When displaying content, stick to a white background and black text. It’s easier for users, whether they’re colorblind or not, to read.
Finally, think carefully before using flashy animations. Bright lights and flashing colors can harm users with autism or users who are susceptible to seizures. Look for ways in which animated elements can be hidden if needed.
Include Subtitles and Transcripts
If you’re using videos on your site, ensure they have subtitles or text transcripts. Both tools allow hearing-impaired users to read along with your videos. Make sure your transcripts and subtitles are accurate, descriptive, and spelled correctly. YouTube features closed captioning tools and you can find affordable transcription services from a variety of freelancers.
Remember the Keyboard
A lot of organizations miss this step when developing their website. For any functionality you expect your users to use a mouse for, ensure that function is also compatible with a user’s keyboard.
Many users who are visually impaired don’t use their computer mouse. Instead, they use their keyboard’s tabs and arrow keys to navigate your site, select links, and highlight pictures. If they can access some pieces of content but not others, this blatantly violates ADA regulations.
Do You Have a Plan?
Perhaps you’ve identified a few issues your site has. Maybe it’s missing alt tags or it doesn’t allow users to navigate its interface with a keyboard. Perhaps it features too many animations or some of its videos are missing subtitles.
If so, it’s time to act now. More and more schools are being cited for their failure to meet ADA regulations. If you’re next, not only will your school’s budget be hurt, but its reputation will be as well. If your school is seen as not being accessible to all, your future engagement and enrollment may take a big hit.
KDG has recently released a Higher Ed Web Plan that can identify ADA compliance issues your site may have. In only a few hours, our team will deliver a report customized to your institution’s website, showing you where your site has opportunities for improvement—all outlined in a thoroughly detailed assessment with simple, step-by-step implementation guides.
This report, for one low fee of only $2,500, includes:
- ADA compliance measures
- Engagement scoring
- Real user testing
- Search engine optimization tips
- Content suggestions
- URL and plugin testing
Contact the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the plan and how your school can increase its accessibility.