Ways to test your website for ADA compliance
Your business logo is the visual representation of your brand in the minds of consumers.
Thirty years after the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, websites are finding themselves increasingly scrutinized for accessibility adherence.
Some businesses have even found themselves on the unfortunate end of malicious lawsuits seeking only to collect statutory damages. If you own a business and it has a website, you can check out this page to get more information about our ADA compliance website checker:
In this article, we will be discussing something very basic that will be found on every page of your website: your company logo. Since it is a photo that will be displayed everywhere your site visitors will go, must it be ADA compliant? And how can you make it more accessible?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
This is an important civil rights law, decades-long in the making, which was finally signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against persons with disabilities so that they are assured of equal enjoyment of goods and services. It is implemented by punishing violators with penalties through lawsuits.
The ADA is composed of five Titles. Title III is for public accommodations (and commercial facilities) and is most relevant for our concern. This section of the ADA applies to retail stores, restaurants, hotels, schools, recreational sites, or anywhere that provides goods and services to the public. Today, it is generally determined by courts that if your business falls under Title III of the ADA, then your business website is also covered by this law.
Since 1990 was way before the internet became part of our daily lives, the ADA is not particularly worded to include accessibility standards for the internet. Just the same, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has iterated their stance that “the ADA applies to public accommodations’ websites.” They explain that “the absence of a specific regulation does not serve as a basis for noncompliance with a statute’s requirements.”
Even if a website only provides further information about a product or company, if it helps to bring goods and services to the public, it must become ADA compliant.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1)
Right now, the global standard for internet accessibility is the one published by the World Wide Web Consortium. The WCAG 2.1 is the most updated and most comprehensive list that enumerates all the recommendations that applies to media shared on the internet. This specific version of the guidelines was released on June 5, 2018. As of this writing, there is already an existing draft for WCAG 2.2.
The P.O.U.R. Principles
As complex as the WCAG is upon quick perusal, it is guided by only 4 principles that are easy to keep in mind. According to the WCAG, a web page must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. A violation of any one of these four principles constitutes a violation of the guidelines as a whole.
Perceivable. This is particularly sensitive to the limitations of persons with visual and auditory impairments. This principle means that text must adhere to particular sizes and contrasts and that images must be accompanied by alt text, where alt text is a simple description of what you can see in the photo. The perceivable principle is the same one that requires closed captioning for videos in consideration of persons with hearing disability.
Operable. An accessible website is one that can be easily navigated even with just the use of keyboard commands. Websites must include options for people who might not be able to use a computer due to loss of extremities or other reasons.
Understandable. Even if a website is perceivable, if its content cannot be easily comprehended by a user no matter the background, it is also deemed inaccessible.
Robust. Since there are various devices we now use to browse the internet, web developers and administrators must become sensitive to how it will be perceived across all devices and operating systems. Pages must especially be accommodating to users who will make use of assistive technologies like screen readers to navigate their way.
The ADA and your logo
Your business logo is the visual representation of your brand in the minds of consumers. Since it is something visual, it must be able to address the limitations of individuals with seeing disabilities.
Sometimes, logos come with text, as in the company’s name. Otherwise, it is composed completely of an image. Since it is important for any media on a website to be perceivable by a user, it begs wondering if the image must be manipulated so that it is easier on the eyes of anyone who sees it.
However, the WCAG 2.1 has this to say about logos that include words, “Text that is part of a logo or brand name has no contrast requirement.” This is good news for business owners who are concerned about altering their logos to suit the guidelines. It is important to note though that because a logo is still an image that must be comprehended by all users, it must be accompanied by alt text.