According to the CDC, 1 in 4 US adults reported a disability in 2016.¹ That’s up from 1 in 5 US adults in 2013. The number of disabled adults is growing, as the population ages. Does your organization know everything there is to know about maintaining accessibility for this population?
If not, you may want to invest in a web accessibility course for the employees who design, develop and update your website, its content, mobile apps, and other digital properties.
Web accessibility, also referred to as digital accessibility, means that digital properties are created to be fully usable by people with disabilities. Too often, this is not the case, and a great many people encounter frustrating barriers that could have been avoided. Training in web accessibility is highly beneficial for companies and organizations, not only to enhance the current digital experience for the 60 million Americans who have disabilities, but also to ensure that new content is accessible.
Why Participate in a Web Accessibility Course?
We use the internet for activities such as banking, education, employment, recreation, shopping, health care, personal correspondence and social media – imagine not being able to do these things without asking for help from someone else. Inaccessible websites and other digital tools prevent people with disabilities from participating in online activities that many of us take for granted. This is a cause for concern in our increasingly digital world.
Understanding people with disabilities and their needs helps put web accessibility into perspective, and a good web accessibility course will cover this information. Moreover, accessibility guidelines evolve over time, but the goal remains the same: to facilitate equal access and opportunities for people with disabilities. It is imperative that organizations consider participating in an accessibility training course regularly.
Companies and organizations have a legal obligation to make their digital properties accessible. Depending on the nature and size of your organization, you may have requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)² and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act³ as well as state and local laws. Failing to meet the requirements increases your organization’s risk of customer complaints, government fines, and lawsuits.
What is the Standard for Web Accessibility?
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)4 are the most widely accepted accessibility standard around the world. WCAG 2.0 is the version required for compliance with a wide number of accessibility standards and regulations, although WCAG 2.1 is the latest guidelines version.
WCAG is developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international authority on web accessibility. W3C says that web accessibility “encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including: auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, visual.” If digital properties are accessible, people with disabilities should be able to “perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web,” as well as contribute to it.5
WCAG 2.0 has 12 guidelines, each with a list of success criteria for making digital content (including text, images, sounds, code and markup) accessible. Additionally, WCAG 2.0 has three conformance levels: A (minimum accessibility), AA (addresses the major, most common accessibility issues) and AAA (the highest standard). For compliance with accessibility laws, digital properties must meet the success criteria for Level AA.
As referenced above, W3C has since released a significant WCAG update, WCAG 2.1, in early June of 2018.6 It includes more coverage of mobile accessibility and certain disabilities (low vision and cognitive and learning disabilities). Meeting these guidelines in addition to WCAG 2.0 will further improve the accessibility of your digital properties.
To learn whether your website is meeting the latest WCAG standards, download our whitepaper: The Must Have WCAG 2.1 Checklist.
What Does Web Accessibility Training Involve?
Training in web accessibility can give your program managers, procurement departments, content developers, web developers, quality assurance staff and other key personnel a greater understanding of web accessibility principles, WCAG 2.1 and 2.0 and how people with disabilities use digital content.
For example, you might learn about: web accessibility best practices; inclusive design; evaluating digital accessibility (including accessibility testing tools and validators, and functional and manual testing by people with disabilities); advanced accessibility techniques for websites; accessibility for mobile applications, multimedia and dynamic content; and other tools and resources that improve web accessibility.
Choosing a Web Accessibility Trainer
It’s easy to find companies and schools that offer instruction in web development, coding, etc. However, to gain a thorough understanding of accessibility and ensure that your website and other digital tools comply with standards and regulations, it’s wise to consult an accessibility trainer or firm that specializes in digital accessibility.
Your instructors should be knowledgeable about the intricacies of WCAG 2.1 and 2.0, as well as evaluation methods including functional and manual testing by human users (automated testing alone uncovers only a fraction of accessibility issues). The web accessibility instructor can also help you develop a plan to ensure that any new content will also be accessible.
An Innovative Solution
eSSENTIAL Accessibility has developed a comprehensive accessibility solution to help organizations follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and achieve and maintain compliance with standards and regulations. This includes integrating web compliance evaluation and remediation services, including web accessibility courses and training, paired with our assistive technology to deliver a transformative experience for people with disabilities.
- Prevalence of Disabilities and Health Care Access by Disability Status and Type Among Adults, CDC, 2018.
- ADA Guidelines for Web Accessibility: Everything You Need to Know, eSSENTIAL Accessibility.
- The Refreshed Section 508 Standards: How They’re Different — And Better, eSSENTIAL Accessibility.
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – What is WCAG?, eSSENTIAL Accessibility.
- Introduction to Web Accessibility, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative, 2018
- W3C Issues Improved Accessibility Guidelines for Websites and Applications, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative, 2018