Several days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that business and organization websites need to be accessible (see news stories). (Technically, they chose to let a lower court’s ruling to this effect stand. But it comes out to the same thing.)
What does does “accessible website” mean?
An accessible website is a website people can use even if they have vision or hearing impairments or certain other challenges.
What standard should I follow?
(I’m not a lawyer and none of this should be construed as legal advice.)
The rules businesses and organizations follow to achieve ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance are WCAG 2.1 AA. (Governmental agencies use the almost-identical Section 508.)
ADA laws cover websites that sell products or services. Hundreds (possibly thousands) of legal cases over the last decade have consistently been settled / decided in favor of websites needing to be accessible. The new element here is the Supreme Court’s involvement and imprimatur.
Is my site accessible?
If you have to ask, probably not. 🙂 It takes enough work that you would know if the answer was yes!
How do I check whether my site is accessible?
No tool tests every aspect of whether a website is accessible, but some tools will help you get started by testing some of the basic components:
How do I make my site ADA-compliant?
These tips are geared toward WordPress users. Though the goal is the same on other platforms, the route to get there will look different.
- This article is a good overview. So is this slightly more technical one.
- If you prefer free video tutorials, check out WordPress.tv. Graham Arnfield’s videos are especially helpful. Morton Rand-Hendricksen’s The Ethics of Web Design is a good birds-eye view of why this all matters.
- Some free and paid themes are accessibility-friendly, which means they start you out maybe 3/4 of the way to accessibility. (You need to do that last 1/4 yourself.)
- Free: https://wordpress.org/themes/tags/accessibility-ready/
- Premium: The Genesis Theme framework is accessibility-friendly out of the box.
- Premium: Divi, which I use, isn’t out of the box; this plugin helps get you closer.