by Solia legal staff:
The federal and local governments began years back to implement statutes and regulations that were designed to ensure that people with disabilities could participate in life activities to the highest level reasonably possible. You see these implemented in handicapped access ramps, regulations regarding the width of hallways and doorways to ensure wheelchair access and other steps that until recently, were primarily directed to physical access.
Well, as we all know, digital access is now of significant importance. The government is looking to implement rules regarding website accessibility for disabled people.
Presently nobody knows for sure what the final rules will look like or what type and size entities will be covered. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have been developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of proving a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. WCAG is a private web consortium that creates standards. The federal government has not actually adopted them and nobody knows what entities will be covered. Even the vast majority of FEDERAL websites have not adopted WCAG standards.
Some of the things that advocates for the disabled are arguing for would cost a great deal and would impose some hardship on smaller businesses. Whether those will be in the regulations, or apply to smaller businesses or just large ones remains to be seen. So a lot of website owners are holding off spending large sums until they know what they must do.
It’s pretty likely that when the rules come out, firms will have a year or more likely two years to bring their websites into compliance.
We think our clients should start now. The good news is that Solia sites built on current code have an existing infrastructure that will allow us to implement changes more efficiently than if the core code was outdated. Many of our clients have asked us to begin to update their sites and implement WCAG standards. Our updated sites allow those with visual disabilities to have text read back to them, use standard keys to increase or decrease text size and change color to high contrast or other combinations of color that are easier for the disabled. Law or no law, it’s just good business to accommodate the disabled.
If you would like for us to begin implementing steps now, just let us know.