Websites and the Americans With Disabilities Act
As a person with a disability, I’ve often wondered how people can create more accessibility for people who use their websites. After all, thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act, people with disabilities have a right to have access to everything that able-bodied people do. Whether it’s employment, access to public entities and transportation, telecommunications, or other issues, people with disabilities have the right to access everything that everyone else does.
Enter The Internet and Our Phones
As many of us know, we use the internet and our smartphones for just about everything. We use Search engines to look things up, we use social media to socialize, and we often go to certain websites to buy things. So, it only makes sense that accessibility is open to all people for all purposes.
World Wide Web Consortium and Accessibility
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) agrees that websites should be more accessible. In fact, the W3C director spoke about it:
The power of the Web is in its universality.
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
According to their own Accessibility page, “the impact of disability is radically changed on the Web because the Web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people face in the physical world. However, when web sites [sic], applications, technologies, or tools are badly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web.”
It is no longer enough to have a high-quality website. It is ESSENTIAL to make it accessible for everyone who wants to use it. To not do so nowadays excludes them. Indeed, it is considered a form of discrimination. After all, if some people can use your website, and others can’t, what does that look like to you?
Web Accessibility Initiative
On that note, the W3C has teamed up with the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) to help web designers. They have developed a guide as well as step-by-step instructions that explain everything you must do in order to make your website more accessible to all users. This includes web content, authoring tools, user agents, and apps. Whether you are a content writer, visual designer, policy maker, educator, or advocate, there are plenty of resources. These resources will inform you how to create an accessible website that anyone can use.
Center For Independent Living of Broward
As I mentioned, I also have a disability. While I do not have one that affects my vision, I have worked with people at the Center for Independent Living of Broward in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I have not only assisted their consumers in developing their independent living and employability skills. I now work for them (remotely) updating their website and their Facebook page. It has given me the chance to share information. However, it has also taught me how to make the information more accessible to their consumers, and other community members who have a disability. As such, I have talked with staff about what changes can be made in order to make their website more accessible and user-friendly.
My Own Website
The information I have learned, and the experiences I’ve been given, have taught me what I need to do in order to make my own website more accessible. As such, I looked for something that made my website more accessible – and I found a great plugin for it.
A company called UserWay developed a WordPress plugin that works quite well. It puts a blue “accessibility” button on your page, and you can place it anywhere. I chose to put it on the right-hand side in the middle so that it stands out.
When you click on the button, there are several options that come up:
- Increase the font size
- Change the contrast
- Desaturate the page (which removes the colors)
- Highlight website links
- Have a voice read the page
- Make the font legible
I do want to mention that, in updating my website, I chose a font that is (hopefully) legible to most people even though my choices were limited. Hopefully, this changes in the future. If you have a suggestion as to other fonts – or even a WordPress theme – that will work better, please let me know. You can write a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always open to new ideas that will help my readers get information in the best way possible.