Compatibility with AT

Making Your Organization's Website More Accessible and Usable

Making Your Organization's Website More Accessible and Usable

Website accessibility is less complex than many people believe. It primarily involves adherence to a small number of basic rules for including certain codes or content in ways that can be interpreted effectively by people who are not using the standard monitor, keyboard, or mouse to access and interact with websites.

Guidelines and Standards

Most national and international accessibility guidelines are based on at least one of two sources:

  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG 1.0 was published in 1999; WCAG 2.0, which is a major revision, was published in 2008. Among other changes, WCAG 2.0 strives to remain relevant as new Internet technologies are developed. WCAG is based on best practices, and is not formally affiliated with any legislation. WCAG has three levels of compliance: A (minimal compliance), AA (enhanced compliance), and AAA (advanced compliance). This document covers Level A and Level AA compliance.
  • Section 508 Standards, which were published in 2000 and are enforceable for Federal agencies under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Subpart B, 1194.22 covers Internet and intranet pages. Section 508 is slated for revision in the near future; when the revised standards are published, they will dovetail far more closely with WCAG 2.0. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which addresses accessibility of places of public accommodation, has recently been amended to cover website accessibility. When Title III standards are published, they will likely be based on WCAG 2.0 and/or Section 508.

What Website Accessibility Means

Website guidelines and standards primarily address two issues:

  • Coding. Many people with disabilities use assistive technologies to access the Internet. Assistive technologies provide an alternative to the monitor (e.g., programs that read information aloud) or to the keyboard and/or mouse (e.g., speech recognition software). These programs are often dependent on the presence of certain HTML tags, attributes, or other pieces of coding to work properly.
  • Interface. The “look and feel” of websites needs to be designed so that they are accessible to people with disabilities, whether or not they use assistive technologies. These guidelines and standards overlap significantly with mainstream usability guidelines. WCAG Level A guidelines primarily cover coding issues; Level AA guidelines cover both coding and interface.

This article discusses Section 508, Level A, and Level AA guidelines, and provides suggestions on how to comply with each of these.

 

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Archived Webinar on Best iDevice Apps That Are Switch Accessible

New apps are released every day and many of them are perfect to help persons with disabilities. However, not all apps are switch accessible or we do not have the right equipment to use a switch accessible app. In this webinar you will learn about the Blue2 Bluetooth switch that works with the iPad and how to identify apps that work with this access method.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Better Hearing Institute's List of Most Hearing-Aid Compatible Cell Phones

An informative list has been compiled by the Better Hearing Institute. It is their complete list of U.S. phones with are the most compatible with hearing aids (meaning, carrying the highest rating of M4/T4*)

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Control Android Devices with Special Switches

Tekla is a free software app for the Android platform that lets you control other apps on the device, including its phone function, via any specialized switch setup: puff and sip, large ability switches, wheelchair controller, etc.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Database of Books in Accessible Formats

People who are blind or have low vision, as well as librarians and others looking for accessible books, can find the Louis database at the American Printing House for the Blind that covers more than 300,000 titles, available in braille, large print, and other accessible formats.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

UK Site Features Info on Simple Switch Access to Games and Entertainment

OneSwitch is a UK organization that develops and shares information about simple access to games and other software. It's got lots of fun, practical solutions for entertainment, music, and art, and an attached blog for dialogue and involvement.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

New Gaming Site Shares Advice on Accessibility

Gamebase is a new website that lets disabled gamers trade information about what they play and how they play it. It's a project of SpecialEffect, a UK charity dedicated to accessible gaming that has developed eye gaze technology for video games and operates a loan library.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Syndicate content