The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG provides technical Mobile specifications to improve the accessibility of web content, websites and Improves support for touch web applications on desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices for people with a wide range of disabilities, including auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual disabilities.
What’s Different About WCAG 2.1?
WCAG 2.0, released nearly 10 years ago, contains 12 guidelines for digital accessibility, divided among four principles with the acronym P.O.U.R: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. Each guideline has a list of “success criteria,” or requirements (61 in total), for making content – including text, images, sounds, code and markup – more accessible. In addition, WCAG 2.0 has three levels of conformance: A (minimum accessibility), AA (addresses the major, most common accessibility issues) and AAA (the highest standard).
WCAG 2.1 Level A Checklist
Success Criteria Description 1.1.1 – Non-text Content Provide text alternatives for non-text content 1.2.1 – Audio-only and Video-only (Pre-recorded) Provide an alternative to video-only and audio-only content 1.2.2 –Captions (Pre-recorded) Provide captions for videos with audio 1.2.3 – Audio description or Media Alternative (Pre-recorded) Video with an audio has a second alternative 1.3.1 – Info and Relationships Logical structures 1.3.2 – Meaningful Sequence Present content in a meaningful order 1.3.3 – Sensory Characteristics Use more than one sense for instructions 1.4.1 – Use of Colour Don’t use presentation that relies solely on colour 1.4.2 – Audio Control Don’t play audio automatically 2.1.1 – Keyboard Accessible by keyboard only 2.1.2 – No Keyboard Trap Don’t trap keyboard users 2.1.4 – Character Key Shortcuts Do not use single key shortcuts or provide a way to turn them off or change them 2.2.1 – Timing Adjustable Time limits have user controls 2.2.2 – Pause, Stop, Hide Provide user controls for moving content 2.3.1 – Three Flashes or Below No content flashes more than three times per second 2.4.1 – Bypass Blocks Provide a “Skip to Content” link 2.4.2 – Page Titled Helpful and clear page title 2.4.3 – Focus Order Logical Order 2.4.4 – Link Purpose (In Context) Every link’s purpose is clear from its context 2.5.1 – Pointer Gestures Users can perform touch functions with assistive technology or one finger 2.5.2 – Pointer Cancellation This requirement applies to web content that interprets pointer actions 2.5.3 – Label in Name The name contains the text that is presented visually 2.5.4 – Motion Actuation Functions that are trigged by moving a device or by gesturing towards a device can also be operated by more conventional user interface components 3.1.1 – Language of Page Page has a language assigned 3.2.1 – On Focus Elements do not change when they receive focus 3.2.2 – On Input Elements do not change when they receive input 3.3.1 – Error Identification Clearly identify input errors 3.3.2 – Labels or Instructions Label elements and give instructions 4.1.1 – Parsing No major code errors 4.1.2 – Name, Role, Value Build all elements for accessibility
WCAG 2.1 Level AA
1.2.4 – Captions (Live) Live videos have captions 1.2.5 – Audio Description (Pre-recorded) Users have access to audio description for video content 1.3.4 – Orientation Requires authors not to rely on a screen orientation 1.3.5 – Identify Input Purpose Ensure common names are provided using the HTML autocomplete list 1.4.3 – Contrast (Minimum) Contrast ratio between text and background is at least 4.5:1 1.4.4 – Resize Text Text can be resized to 200% without loss of content or function 1.4.5 – Images of Text Don’t use images of text 1.4.10 – Reflow Your website must be responsive 1.4.11 – Non-Text Contrast High contrast between pieces of text and their backgrounds 1.4.12 – Text Spacing Text spacing can be overridden to improve the reading experience 1.4.13 – Content on Hover Focus Ensuring content visible on hover or keyboard focus does not lead to accessibility issues 2.4.5 – Multiple Ways Offer several ways to find pages 2.4.6 – Headings and Labels Use clear headings and labels 2.4.7 – Focus Visible Keyboard focus is visible and clear 3.1.2 – Language of Parts Tell users when the language on a page changes 3.2.3 – Consistent Navigation Use menus consistently 3.2.4 – Consistent Identification Use icons and buttons consistently 3.3.3 – Error Suggestion Suggest fixes when users make errors 3.3.4 – Error Prevention (Legal, Financial, Data) Reduce the risk of input errors for sensitive data 4.1.3 – Status Changes Distances between paragraphs, rows, words and characters must be able to be increased to a certain value
WCAG Overview 2.1: What is Next for Accessibility Guidelines
By Glenda Sims June 06, 2018
WCAG Overview – Are you staying on top of your digital accessibility game? Don’t be caught by surprise that a new version of W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is on the horizon. In fact, the next “minor” version of WCAG was formally published on June 5, 2018! The W3C has researched user needs and written WCAG 2.1 success criteria to fill known gaps. There is also a parallel effort in motion to create a major revision of digital accessibility guidelines. View non-AMP version at deque.com
History of WCAG
Before we look into the future, let’s understand the past. May 5, 1999 the first international standard for digital accessibility (WCAG 1.0) was published by the W3C. It was technology specific focusing on html. December 11, 2008, WCAG 2.0 more) have adopted WCAG 2.0 as their legal digital accessibility standard. By October 2012, the International Standards Organization (ISO) even established WCAG 2.0 as the digital standard for accessibility. ISO/IEC 40500:2012
” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” /> Despite being almost a decade old, WCAG 2.0 continues to be a viable standard for digital accessibility. However, in internet years, 2008 is ancient. So, it should come as no surprise that known gaps exist in WCAG 2.0 and need to be filled. Parallel efforts are underway to address the evolving needs of digital accessibility. The first short-term effort is WCAG 2.1, which is a very focused release. The second longer-term effort has a code name of Silver. Silver is the reimagining of digital Accessibility Guidelines (AG) from the ground up.
Since it is likely that the future version of the Accessibility Guidelines will drop the “WC” for “web content” and simply be known as the “Accessibility Guidelines” (AG), it has been given the nickname of “Silver” because “Ag” is the symbol for the chemical element silver on the periodic table.
What is WCAG 2.1?
If you are already familiar with WCAG 2.0, you probably have a number of questions. And we’ve got answers!
Is WCAG 2.1 backward compatible with WCAG 2.0? Yes! WCAG 2.0 is still a valid and very useful standard. WCAG 2.1 works in concert with WCAG 2.0.
Does WCAG 2.1 continue to use the WCAG 2.0 the A, AA, and AAA conformance levels? Yes. WCAG 2.1 uses the same A/AA/AAA conformance levels
What are the main areas of focus for WCAG 2.1? The three biggest gaps in WCAG 2.0 are related to:
mobile technology – mobile phones were not very smart back in 2008, and this platform evolves rapidly. It is no surprise that there are accessibility needs related to mobile that must be addressed. The Mobile Accessibility Task Force (MATF)was created to address accessibility challenges for mobile.
For any technical standard to be successful it must be clear, distinct, testable, technically possible and reasonable. The new success criterion in WCAG 2.1 had to meet all of the following:
Testable – requirement must be reliably and consistently testable using an automated or manual process.
Condition – requirement must describe a condition to be met, not a method. Conditions are technology agnostic.
Applies to all content – requirement applies to all types of content by default. Any exceptions must be explicitly identified.
Applies across technologies – requirement applies across all types of digital technology formats including web, mobile, desktop, digital documents, email, software applications and more.
Implementable – requirement must be possible to implement today. Sufficient techniques must be documented using readily available formats, user agents, and assistive technologies.
What was the timeline for publishing WCAG 2.1?
Creating an international technical standard is not something you do overnight. But with the rate that technology changes, taking too long to update a standard can be a problem too. It has been over 9 years since WCAG 2.0 was released in December of 2008. Recognizing this, the W3C adopted an incremental approach to developing WCAG 2.1 in 18 months. WCAG 2.1 timeline:
August 22, 2017 – stop accepting new SC proposals (Done!)
September 2017 – 6th Public Working Draft (Done!)
December 2017 – 7th Public Working Draft (Done!)
January 2018 – Candidate Recommendation (Done!)
April 2018 – Proposed Recommendation (Done!)
June 5, 2018 – WCAG 2.1 Recommendation (Done!)
Who created WCAG 2.1?
Everything related to the development of WCAG 2.1 was done where the public could see and comment. Over 150 people from all over the world were involved in creating this next version of WCAG. Check out the current list of W3C Accessibility Guidelines Working Group participants. If you aren’t already involved, there are lots of ways to jump in and contribute.
Talk about open and inclusive! Anyone in the world could watch WCAG 2.1 evolving. You could jump in and make comments, volunteer and help create a better web for all.
Where is the Final version of WCAG 2.1?
The final version of WCAG 2.1 can always be found at this URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/ The <h2> list the date of publication. Links let you navigate to all previously published versions. The June 5, 2018, version, known as official W3C Recommendation is the final version.
What in the world is a W3C Recommendation? How is it different than a Working Draft, Candidate Recommendation or Proposed Recommendation?
A W3C Recommendation is the official final publication for a technical standard that has reached full maturity and is ready to be used. There are many review steps and refinements required before the W3C determines a standard is ready to be published.
” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />
The W3C has a well-defined process for publishing quality technical standards that can stand the test of time. Here are the basic steps:
First Public Working Draft (FPWD) published
MUST encourage early and wide review.
Revised Public Working Draft(s) (WD) publish zero or more
MAY publish additional drafts based on input.
Candidate Recommendation (CR) formerly known as Last Call Working Draft
MUST specify deadline for additional comments.
The technical standard is believed to be stable and appropriate for implementation.
The standard MAY still be modified based on implementation experience/feedback. Modification SHOULD be minimal
Proposed Recommendation (PR) call for review
A formal request for approval of the technical standard by the W3C Advisory Committee.
MUST show that the proposed technical standards have received wide review
MUST show that all issues raised during the Candidate Recommendation have been formally addressed
W3C Recommendation (REC) published
The decision to advance a document to Recommendation is a W3C decision.
The standard has reached full maturity. It is a formal Recommendation from the W3C.
Getting to Know the WCAG 2.1 Proposed Recommendation
On June 5, 2018, the W3C published the WCAG 2.1 Recommendation. Here is a summary of the new success criteria:
New Success Criteria in the WCAG 2.1 Proposed Recommendation
WCAG Overview – Remember, WCAG 2.1 includes all of WCAG 2.0, and adds 17 new requirements. Everything you already know and do to meet WCAG 2.0 is still valid and necessary. WCAG 2.1 adds 17 new success criteria to fill in known gaps, especially in the areas of mobile, cognitive and low vision.
How Do You Feel About WCAG 2.1 Right Now?
” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />
Before we go any further, I want to ask you, “How are you feeling?” Are you anxious, worried, stressed? Or are you as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve? Either way, I want you to stop and take a deep breath. Remember, none of these WCAG 2.1 success criteria are required by law today (June 2018). They are all really good things to do for digital accessibility, but your list of things you must do today is not about to get longer based on this.
The 17 WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria
” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />
Let’s take a closer look at WCAG 2.1 A and AA Success Criteria based on the W3C Recommendation 5 June 2018. For each I’ve added a persona quote to help you understand the accessibility need. The persona quotes are from my imagination.
Persona Quote: “Landscape or Portrait? Don’t make me turn my device 90 degrees.”
Why: (Perceivable) Some users have their device mounted in a fixed orientation (e.g. on arm of power wheelchair). Therefore, digital applications need to support both orientations by making sure content and functionality are available in both landscape and portrait.
“Content does not restrict its view and operation to a single display orientation, such as portrait or landscape, unless a specific display orientation is essential.”
Identify Input Purpose (AA)
Persona Quote: What is this input field for?”
Why: (Perceivable) To help people with cognitive disabilities understand and use form inputs. Personalization based on metadata will allow the use of familiar terms and symbols for input labels. Having familiar terms and symbols is key to being able to use the web. However, what is familiar for one person may be new or confusing for another requiring them to learn new symbols. Future personalization tools could include the ability for a user to load a set of symbols that is appropriate for them, ensuring that all users find input fields simple and familiar.
The content is implemented using technologies with support for identifying the expected meaning for form input data.”
Persona Quote: “Horizontal scrolling is evil!”
Origin: Low Vision
Why:(Perceivable) A significant proportion of people with low vision need more than a 200% increase in the size of content. The impact of horizontal scrolling can increase the effort required to read by 40-100 times. Avoid designs that require horizontal scrolling.
“Content can be presented without loss of information or functionality, and without requiring scrolling in two dimensions for:
Vertical scrolling content at a width equivalent to 320 CSS pixels
Horizontal scrolling content at a height equivalent to 256
Except for parts of the content which require two-dimensional layout for usage or meaning.”
Non-Text Contrast (AA)
Persona Quote: “Did you want me to see that important image/user interface control, or not?”
Origin: Low Vision
Why:(Perceivable) To extend the color contrast requirements for text (in WCAG 2.0 SC 1.4.3) to include important graphics.
User Interface Components: Visual information required to identify user interface components and states, except for inactive components or where the appearance of the component is determined by the user agent and not modified by the author;
Graphical Objects: Parts of graphics required to understand the content, except when a particular presentation of graphics is essential to the information being conveyed.”
Text Spacing (AA)
Persona Quote: “Curse Word! This text is so hard to read! I need to change the spacing to read it.”
Origin: Low Vision
Why:(Perceivable) Ensure that people with low vision can override paragraph spacing, letter spacing, word spacing and line height.
“In content implemented using markup languages that support the following textstyle properties, no loss of content or functionality occurs by setting all of the following and by changing no other style property:
Line height (line spacing) to at least 1.5 times the font size;
Spacing following paragraphs to at least 2 times the font size;
Letter spacing (tracking) to at least 0.12 times the font size;
Word spacing to at least 0.16 times the font size.
Exception: Human languages and scripts that do not make use of one or more of these text style properties in written text can conform using only the properties that exist for that combination of language and script.
Content on Hover or Focus (AA)
Persona Quote: “Get out of the way! I can’t see or use the content/control I need!”
Origin: Low Vision
Why: (Perceivable) New content that appears only on focus or mouseover can present many challenges for users with low vision and others whose mouse accuracy may be low.
“Where receiving and then removing pointer hover or keyboard focus triggers additional content to become visible and then hidden, the following are true:
Dismissable:< A mechanism is available to dismiss the additional content without moving pointer hover or keyboard focus, unless the additional content communicates an input error or does not obscure or replace other content;
Hoverable: If pointer hover can trigger the additional content, then the pointer can be moved over the additional content without the additional content disappearing;
Persistent: The additional content remains visible until the hover or focus trigger is removed, the user dismisses it, or its information is no longer valid.
Exception: The visual presentation of the additional content is controlled by the user agent and is not modified by the author.”
Character Key Shortcuts (A)
Persona Quote: “Alexa! Stop! I did not mean for you to…!”
Why: (Operable) Help users who rely on speech-to-text technologies to interact with content without inadvertently triggering some functionality based on a shortcut.
“If a keyboard shortcut is implemented in content using only letter (including upper- and lower-case letters), punctuation, number, or symbol characters, then at least one of the following is true:
Turn off: A mechanism is available to turn the shortcut off;
Remap: A mechanism is available to remap the shortcut to use one or more non-printable keyboard characters (e.g. Ctrl, Alt, etc.);
Active only on focus: The keyboard shortcut for a user interface component is only active when that component has focus.”
Pointer Gestures (A)
Persona Quote: “You expect me to do that complex hand gesture? Are you kidding me? What is this? The finger Olympics???”
Why: (Operable) Help users who cannot accurately perform complex pointer gestures. Touchscreen swipes or multi-pointer gestures such as a two-finger pinch/zoom may be impossible for some users.
“All functionality that uses multipoint or path-based gestures for operation can be operated with a single pointer without a path-based gesture, unless a multipoint or path-based gesture is essential.”
Pointer Cancellation (A)
Persona Quote: “Oh Noooooo! I just accidentally activated X just by touching it!”
Why: (Operable) People with various disabilities can inadvertently initiate touch or mouse events with unwanted results. Help reduce the chance that a control will be accidentally activated.
Why: (Operable) Users with disabilities may be unable to perform particular actions dependent on sensors (like tilting or shaking) because the device may be mounted or users may be physically unable to perform the necessary action.
“Functionality that can be operated by device motion or user motion can also be operated by user interface components and responding to the motion can be disabled to prevent accidental actuation, except when:
Essential: The motion is essential for the function and doing so would invalidate the activity.”
Status Messages (AA)
Persona Quote: “I can’t tell if anything has happened.”
Why: (Robust) Some error or success messages are so subtly added to a page, it is hard to notice them. Users who are blind, low vision or have cognitive disabilities may have trouble finding a status message that has been added to the page.
I predict that most US organizations (including businesses and governments) will not require WCAG 2.1 compliance for years. The EU is likely to make WCAG 2.1 a requirement as early as 2019. Smart developers, designers, and accessibility experts are already considering WCAG 2.1 as documented best practices that can be implemented today. Want to future-proof your web? Start using the principles of WCAG 2.1 today!
How Will You Get Involved?
Now is the time for you to spend some time thinking about how WCAG 2.1 will impact you. Ask questions. Volunteer to help write Understanding Documents, Sufficient Techniques and more.
Is this work easy? Nope. Is it deeply meaningful and important? Absolutely! This is my first time to work on WCAG. And I gotta tell y’all…this…..THIS…. is the most intellectually stimulating work I’ve ever done. There are times over the past year where I thought my brain was going to melt. But, I figured it was my turn to make a positive impact. Great people went before me and dared to create the first screen reader and the first and second versions of WCAG. Time for me to step up to the plate and help create the solutions that are needed today (while benefiting from the brilliant work done before).
(Goodwitch holds out her hand to you.) Come on and join us. I promise you will be grateful you did. How are you going to be part of the solution?
They open the world. They eliminate discrimination. They ensure people are defined by potential. They change lives.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an idea that became reality, which is why it’s important each year to pause to recognize the importance of this landmark law and what it means to so many of our fellow New Jerseyans and people across our nation.
uly 26 will mark the 29th anniversary of the ADA. That’s 29 years of changing lives and perceptions, of equal access and of making clear that we as a society will always stand for the rights of our family members, friends, neighbors, and countless people we’ve never met to live fulfilling lives, no matter their personal situation.
The ADA allows individuals with disabilities to participate in the world around them, and has likely changed lives in ways many could not have imagined when it became law in 1990, but while we pause each July to remember the benefits of the ADA and its importance, we also must honor its ideals each and every day of the year.
Understanding people with disabilities starts with empathy
We must move to address the social stigma surrounding this community.
The ADA provides clear and comprehensive national standards to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities. As a result, individuals with disabilities, as is their right, can live in their home and have equal access to education, jobs, recreation, shopping and entertainment. It has helped shape our nation, but the work is not done. We must remain steadfast to the principles, aiming for greater inclusivity, equality and fairness.
I have the honor of being the director of New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Disability Services, which works to streamline access to services and information to promote and enhance independent living for individuals with all disabilities.
Our goal is to promote maximum independence and full participation of people with disabilities within all aspects of community life.
Through our toll free hotline, 1-888-285-3036, the division responds to requests for assistance. Certified Information and referral specialists are available to confidentially discuss issues, provide information, assist with problem solving and refer individuals to appropriate agencies or services.
We also publish New Jersey Resources, a comprehensive guide to services available throughout the state. I urge everyone to download a copy.
We also administer some great programs such as the Traumatic Brain Injury Fund, and the Personal Assistance Services Program, both of which offer vital assistance to help individuals with disabilities live as independently as possible within our communities. Additionally, we can help people to access NJ ABLE, which allows individuals with disabilities to save for expenses without losing eligibility for their Medicaid and other benefits. And we work with our partners at Human Services, including the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Division of Developmental Disabilities, which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The ADA rightfully opened the world to individuals with disabilities. We must ensure that equal access remains a priority, while doing whatever we can to assist individuals with disabilities to live full and independent lives. We are here to help. Give us a call or visit us at nj.gov/humanservices/dds/services/ to learn more. Together, we can continue ensuring people are defined by their potential. We can change lives.
Peri Nearon is the director of the New Jersey Division of Disability Services with the Department of Human Services.
New know-how being examined by the Lengthy Island Rail Street goals to provide riders with disabilities additional help when boarding a practice.
The LIRR’s Glen Head station is the primary to host the brand new “Help Point” kiosk function, which assists riders with special wants in getting the eye of railroad personnel on an arriving practice.
The kiosk includes a button marked “boarding assistance” that, when pressed, prompts a flashing yellow beacon that notifies practice crew members who may help the client, together with by establishing a bridge plate to help get wheelchair customers onto a practice.
The kiosk additionally has buttons for patrons to inform authorities of an emergency, or to communicate immediately with LIRR personnel for info.
LIRR president Phillip Eng, speaking about this system at a Might MTA Board assembly, stated it stemmed from suggestions from clients with particular needs, including those who stated that they had specific problem getting crew members’ attention during nighttime hours.
“This can give them extra confidence that they will be observed,” Eng stated. “It’s a method of displaying that we’re listening to clients.”
The Department of Justice today announced payments by Greyhound Lines, Inc. totaling $2,966,000 to over 2,100 individuals who experienced disability discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound. The payments were part of a broader settlement from 2016 resolving the Department’s complaint that Greyhound, the nation’s largest provider of intercity bus transportation, engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide full and equal transportation services to passengers with disabilities. The $2,966,000 amount is in addition to $300,000 paid by Greyhound in 2016 to specific individuals identified by the Department, bringing the total distributed to individuals to over $3,250,000. To read the press release regarding this event, click here. For more information about the ADA, call the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.
It is also a reminder of why it’s important to keep the pressure on government and private entities to make public places accessible to all.
“The sort of run-of-the mill storefronts, restaurants, retail store, those really should be accessible now and a lot are but too many still are not,” said Kenneth Shiotani, senior staff attorney for the National Disability Right Network, which is based in Washington, D.C.
He said outdoor spaces, such as beaches and trails, pose more challenges than man-made structures when it comes to accessibility and for that reason, new guidelines were set for them in 2013. But Meridian Hill Park, which boasts of having the largest cascading fountain in the country, seems much more structured than other outdoor spaces, he said.
“I think the wedding party had reasonable expectations that 30 years later [after the ADA was passed] a federal park would be accessible,” Shiotani said. “It’s a public park, it’s paid for by public dollars, it should ultimately be accessible for everybody.”
Every day, websites and mobile apps prevent people from using them. Ignoring accessibility is no longer a viable option.
How do you prevent your company from being a target for a website accessibility ADA lawsuit?
Guidelines for websites wanting to be accessible to people with disabilities have existed for nearly two decades thanks to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.
A close cousin to usability and user experience design, accessibility improves the overall ease of use for webpages and mobile applications by removing barriers and enabling more people to successfully complete tasks.
We know now that disabilities are only one area that accessibility addresses.
Most companies do not understand how people use their website or mobile app, or how they use their mobile or assistive tech devices to complete tasks.
Even riskier is not knowing about updates in accessibility guidelines and new accessibility laws around the world.
Investing in Website Accessibility Is a Wise Marketing Decision
Internet marketers found themselves taking accessibility seriously when their data indicated poor conversions. They discovered that basic accessibility practices implemented directly into content enhanced organic SEO.
Many marketing agencies include website usability and accessibility reviews as part of their online marketing strategy for clients because a working website performs better and generates more revenue.
Adding an accessibility review to marketing service offerings is a step towards avoiding an ADA lawsuit, which of course, is a financial setback that can destroy web traffic and brand loyalty.
Convincing website owners and companies of the business case for accessibility is difficult. One reason is the cost. Will they see a return on their investment?
I would rather choose to design an accessible website over paying for defense lawyers and losing revenue during remediation work.
Another concern is the lack of skilled developers trained in accessibility. Do they hire someone or train their staff?
Regardless of whether an accessibility specialist is hired or in-house developers are trained in accessibility, the education never ends.
Specialists are always looking for solutions and researching options that meet guidelines. In other words, training never ends.
Many companies lack an understanding of what accessibility is and why it is important. They may not know how or where to find help.
Accessibility advocates are everywhere writing articles, presenting webinars, participating in podcasts, and writing newsletters packed with tips and advice.
ADA lawsuits make the news nearly every day in the U.S. because there are no enforceable regulations for website accessibility. This is not the case for government websites.
Federal websites must adhere to Section 508 by law. State and local websites in the U.S. are required to check with their own state to see what standards are required.
Most will simply follow Section 508 or WCAG2.1 AAA guidelines.
If your website targets customers from around the world, you may need to know the accessibility laws in other countries. The UK and Canada, for example, are starting to enforce accessibility.
Access Board to Hold Town Hall Meeting and Training in Indianapolis on May 21
The Access Board will hold a town hall meeting in Indianapolis on the afternoon of May 21 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The event will provide an open forum where members of the public can pose questions to the Board or share comments or concerns about accessibility for people with disabilities. There also will be panel discussions with area speakers on accessible recreation and outdoor environments, the Indiana AgrAbility Project, and local compliance initiatives under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The event will take place in the Pacers Square Room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm. Registration is not required. An assistive listening system, computer assisted real-time transcription (CART), and sign language interpreters will be available. Attendees are requested to refrain from using perfume, cologne, and other fragrances for the comfort of all participants. The meeting will not be streamed online, but there will be a call-in option and streaming CART.
Earlier in the day, the Board will also offer free training sessions on the ADA Accessibility Standards at the town hall site. There will be a program on how to apply the standards and common sources of confusion (9:00 am – 10:30 am). This will be followed by a session on recreation facilities and outdoor sites (10:45 am – 12:15 pm). Advance registration is not required, and participants can attend either or both sessions. Qualified attendees can earn continuing education credits (1.5 per session) from the American Institute of Architects.
For further information, contact Dave Yanchulis at [email protected], (202) 272–0026 (v), or (202) 272–0027 (TTY).
U.S. Access Board Training and Town Hall Meeting, May 21 Pacers Square at Bankers Life Fieldhouse 125 S. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN
Training Session on the ADA Accessibility Standards (free) • 8:00 – 9:00 Registration & Welcome • 9:00 – 10:30 Application of the Standards & Common Sources of Confusion • 10:30 – 10:45 Break • 10:45 – 12:15 Recreation Facilities & Outdoor Sites
Town Hall Meeting • 2:00 – 2:15 Opening Remarks • 2:15 – 3:30 Panel Discussions • 3:30 – 4:30 Overview of the Access Board & Open Forum
At its March meeting, the Board unanimously elected Board Member Karen Tamley as its new Chair. Tamley just completed a term as Vice Chair of the Board and has served as the Commissioner of the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities since 2005.
“I am honored to serve as the Chair of such a dedicated agency that is a true force for change and that has done so much to advance accessibility both in the U.S. and abroad,” she stated after the vote. “I look forward to working with Board members and staff in the year ahead.”
Tamley joined the Board in 2015 as a public member. As head of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, she leads numerous disability policy and compliance initiatives in transportation, city infrastructure, emergency preparedness, housing, schools and technology, and other areas. She also oversees the delivery of independent living services to city residents.
She succeeds Lance Robertson who represents the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the Board and who was named Vice Chair by acclamation. He serves as Assistant Secretary for Aging at HHS and heads its Administration for Community Living and previously was Director of Aging Services at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Board officers serve for a term of one year. The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of its members are representatives from most of the Federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public appointed by the President.
Ensuring that public streets and sidewalks are accessible to people with disabilities can be a challenge, especially since accessibility guidelines for public rights-of-way have yet to be finalized. The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place June 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will be devoted to answering the various questions that come up in addressing access to sidewalks and street crossings, pedestrian signals, on-street parking, roundabouts, transit stops and other components of public rights-of-way as well as shared use paths. Board Accessibility Specialists will answer questions submitted in advance or during the live webinar and offer guidance, solutions, and best practices based on guidelines the Board proposed for public rights-of-way. Attendees are encouraged to submit their questions in advance.
Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register for the webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.
Section 508 Best Practices Webinar The Board also offers a free webinar series on its Section 508 Standards for ICT in the federal sector. The next webinar in this series will be held May 28 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will review the Trusted Tester for Web and highlight significant updates. Developed by Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Accessible Systems and Technology in coordination with other agencies, the Trusted Tester Process provides a scalable, repeatable, accurate process for evaluating web and software products for conformance with the 508 Standards.
Representatives from the Board and DHS will review the latest edition (Version 5) which supports the revised Section 508 Standards and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (2.0). Trusted Tester 5.0 improves the format, flow, and construction of the evaluation process and test conditions. Presenters will discuss the new testing tool, the Accessible Name and Description Inspector (ANDI), and how it aids testers with code inspection-based testing. They will also cover the availability of DHS online training and certification. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the webinar.
Visit the webinar site for further information or to register. The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the Board. Prior webinars can be accessed on the site.
Poland Creates Entity Modeled after the U.S. Access Board
The Polish government has established an agency to promote accessibility that is modeled after the U.S. Access Board. Created in December, the Accessibility Council is responsible for reviewing laws and regulations and making recommendations to the government on implementing a sweeping new law to advance accessibility nationwide. The Council is comprised of 50 members representing ministries and government bodies, disability groups, and academia and meets quarterly. The Council will play a lead role in implementing the Accessibility Plus Program, an new measure that aims to make Poland a leader in accessibility by eliminating barriers in architecture, transportation, education, health care, digital and other services.
Poland’s Minister of Investment and Development Jerzy Kwieciński, who heads the Accessibility Council, credits the work of the U.S. Access Board and a speaking tour by Board Executive Director David Capozzi as the inspiration for the new entity. At the Council’s inaugural meeting in February, he recognized the Access Board’s influence and stated, “I believe that now Poland will become a model for other countries.” He supports a study tour of the U.S. for Council staff, including further consultations with the Board.
Capozzi travelled throughout Poland in 2017 as part of State Department’s speaker program to share the American experience in ensuring accessibility for people with various disabilities. During his weeklong stay in Warsaw, Gdynia, Gdańsk, and Kraków, he met with national and local authorities, advocacy groups, and other representatives, some of whom were instrumental in creating the Council. Capozzi discussed achievements and challenges of ensuring accessibility in the U.S. and shared lessons learned. He participated in dialogues on different aspects of accessibility, including the built environment, information and communication technology, employment, enforcement, and the important role standards play, among other topics.
“It was an honor to travel to Poland on behalf of the State Department and our embassy to meet with those leading the effort to make the country a model for accessibility,” states Capozzi. “The Board looks forward to learning more about their efforts and achievements and exploring how we can further advance accessibility in both our countries.”
In Warsaw, Board Executive Director David Capozzi (right) met with Senate Member Jan Filip Libicki and others.
Legislation was recently introduced in Congress to supplement the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) which prohibits discrimination in air transportation. Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) submitted bills in the House (H. R. 1549) and Senate (S. 669) to amend the ACAA to further improve access at airports and on aircraft. The bills would create accessibility standards for new airplanes, require removal of barriers on existing airplanes where readily achievable, strengthen enforcement mechanisms, including establishment of a private right of action and enhance safety.
Under these measures, the Access Board would be responsible for issuing standards for aircraft and equipment for boarding and deplaning, including seating accommodations, lavatories, stowage of assistive devices, announcements, and in-flight entertainment and video displays. The standards also would address airports, including ticketing counters, gates, customer service desks, audible announcements, kiosks, and websites. The bills were referred to the appropriate House and Senate committees for consideration.
In addition, under a law passed last year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) began reporting data on the number of passenger wheelchairs and scooters that are damaged or mishandled by airlines on a monthly basis. A total of 701 (2.18%) wheelchairs and scooters were damaged last December, an average of more than 25 a day, as reported in DOT’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Report (February issue). The total for January was 681 (2.06%) and for February was 593 (1.7%).
In a statement, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who authored the law said, “Every airline passenger deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but too often they aren’t. Travelers should be able to find out if certain airlines have high rates of breaking wheelchairs and other equipment that people depend on, just like we can find out if certain airlines have high rates of flight delays or cancellations.”
Further information on this reporting is posted on DOT’s website.
Guidelines for Voting Systems Available for Public Comment
Federal guidelines for voting systems implemented under the Help America Vote Act are currently available for public comment. Issued by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) provide principles and criteria for assessing the basic functionality, accessibility, and security of voting equipment.
The EAC released the document, referred to as VVSG 2.0, on February 28 for a 90-day comment period, as indicated in a notice published in the Federal Register. The VVSG 2.0 updates guidelines first issued in 2005 and revised in 2015 and features a new streamlined structure comprised of high-level system design goals with broad descriptions of the functions that make up voting systems. The proposal also includes moving technical requirements and test assertions to separate documents that detail how voting systems can meet the new Principles and Guidelines in order to obtain certification. Those requirements and test assertions will be made available for public comment at a later date. The EAC seeks comments on all sections of the Principles and Guidelines including the proposed restructuring. Comments are due May 29.
For further information, visit the EAC’s website or contact Ryan Macias at (301) 563-3931 or [email protected].
Updated VPAT Now Available from the IT Industry Council
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) maintains a free reporting tool known as the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) to help determine whether information and communication technology products and services satisfy accessibility requirements, including the Section 508 Standards. ITI recently released revised editions of the VPAT (2.3) based on the Board’s revised 508 Standards (VPAT 2.3 508), including the referenced Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). It also offers VPATs for WCAG 2.1 (VPAT 2.3 WCAG), the European Union’s ICT requirements (VPAT 2.3 EU), and another based on all three (VPAT 2.3 INT).
The boutique Avanti Hotel is known for its poolside, dog-friendly rooms. Yet its website uses the valuable opening page not to highlight the Palm Springs inn’s amenities, but to explain, in stark black letters on a plain white background, that the Avanti violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Like thousands of other businesses in the United States, the 10-room hotel on East Stevens Road has been sued because it hasn’t fully complied with the 1990 law that requires public places — hotels, restaurants and shops — to be accessible to people with disabilities.
In 2010, the Justice Department began to draft formal regulations for websites to meet ADA goals. But last December, the agency announced it was withdrawing its “rulemaking process,” at a time when the Trump administration was calling for a rollback of federal regulations.
The department said it was killing the regulations because it was “evaluating whether promulgating regulations about the accessibility of web information and services is necessary and appropriate.”
In a June 20 letter, 103 members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — urged then-Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to adopt website regulations, saying the absence of such regulations “only fuels the proliferations of these suits.”
Lawyers who defend ADA lawsuits say the Justice Department’s actions to pull the plug on adopting new regulations may have instigated the latest surge in lawsuits.
Business owners who are sued under the ADA complain that the law allows plaintiffs to demand huge payouts in damages without first giving the business owner the opportunity to fix the websites.
Read full article as originally published on LA Times
A new breed of accessibility apps can make life easier for people with disabilities. They can also make it harder.
A group gathers on a Nashville street corner, some rolling in wheelchairs and others walking. They have arrived holding their smartphones and make friendly chatter while a coordinator helps them log in to an app. Dispersing in small groups, they examine restaurants, cafes, and shops, looking for features signaling that disability is welcome there: a parking sign with the International Symbol of Access, a wheelchair ramp, an automatic front door, a wide bathroom stall with grab bars, braille text, low-flicker lighting, glare-free floors, scent-free soap. The groups use the app to document and rate these features. Once submitted, the information accumulates in a database that others can use to find accessible locations.
But even if all these problems were solved, digital-accessibility apps still pose one final threat to disability advocacy in urban environments. Apps can make cities more navigable, but they do not change the material features of that environment. Most of the time, they record the current conditions in the built environment rather than advocate for better ones. Before apps came on the scene, disability activists used mapping to catalog injustices and to imagine alternative futures: new environments in which accessibility was the norm, rather than the exception. Contemporary projects should incorporate that lesson, too. By incorporating knowledge from broad groups of people with disabilities, digital mapping could do more than just record the world as it is today. It could also drive political, design, and policy improvements. After all, to deserve the name, a smart city ought to be a better city, not just a more technological one.