What is website accessibility?
The idea of website accessibility is nothing new but there is a renewed effort to bring all sites up to the highest standards. Website accessibility is developing guidelines and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities.
Why does our site need to be ADA compliant?
While there is specific legal information about why sites must be ADA compliant (see below) the simple fact is because it’s the law.
The ADA is a civil rights law that requires certain entities to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to public services and accommodations.
Title II of the ADA prohibits disability discrimination by all public entities at the local and state level. Agencies such as schools, courts, police departments, and any government entity must comply with Title II regulations as outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice, regardless of whether they receive federal funds. More specifically, Title II states public institutions may not refuse to allow a student to participate in an activity on the basis of disability and requires reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.
Both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (see below) and Title II are enforced by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
Title III of the ADA applies to commercial entities and “public accommodations,” which include most places of lodging, recreation, entertainment, transportation, education, and medical care, among other things. Under Title III, no individual may be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.
Public-facing websites everywhere, including those of public universities, are increasingly being considered places of public accommodation by disability rights groups, courts, and official government entities. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) from both public and private universities have been considered places of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA in recent court cases.
What is SIDEARM Sports doing to help make our site ADA compliant?
SIDEARM Sports is leading the charge of accessibility compliance by actively working to make all websites ADA compliant. This is free of charge to SIDEARM customers.
Web Accessibility Compliance Standards
Our goal at SIDEARM Sports is to make all of our client websites compliant to the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards. These standards meet and exceeds those required by the U.S. Government’s Section 508.
Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)
A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document that explains the level of accessibility conformance a specific software product is.
Download SIDEARM Sports VPAT
New websites and those undergoing redesign are being developed with accessibility in mind.
Websites that were developed prior to 2018 are being reviewed and brought up to the best level of accessibility compliance, short of a complete redesign.
Prioritization of work is based on external factors such as deadlines imposed by the client’s institution, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and third party lawsuits.
Due to the importance and sensitivity of web accessibility, SIDEARM Sports limits the number of websites being worked on simultaneously for accessibility to ensure a higher level of quality.
It is difficult for us to estimate exactly how long the accessibility remediation of a site will take to be completed as there are several factors that can affect it, most importantly the site's unique design and formatting. Typically, sites that have been without a redesign for a longer period of time take longer to ensure compliance.
Issues identified in the core CMS software may take days to weeks to remedy as it can affect hundreds of websites. Issues unique to a websites design and formatting are typically remedied shortly after identification.
Identifying Accessibility Issues
Our specialized accessibility development team in crawls websites using Siteimprove.com, a website governance and quality assurance service, to identify accessibility issues. Key areas of the website are manually scanned with the Wave accessibility browser plugin.
An initial and final report from Siteimprove.com is made available to the client as well as screenshots from the Wave browser plugin.
Along with software based scans, the accessibility team also tests websites for usability with the Jaws screen reader software.
- Siteimprove Accessibility Browser Plugin
- Wave Browser Plugin
- Jaws Screen Reader
Our goal is to make all website content accessible with the keyboard alone. Many features on our websites require modification to source code at various levels to accomplish this.
We are currently rolling out a keyboard navigation script for our menu systems as part of the accessibility improvement process. The functionality of the script mirrors the recommendations made by WebAIM.
- University of Washington: Accessible with Keyboard
- WebAIM: Keyboard Accessibility
Images and Icons
All images and icons included in the design and layout will have descriptive alternative text attached to them.
Note: Content providers are responsible for providing adequate alternative text for images uploaded into the CMS.
We are working to improve contrast of text and icons while preserving brand identity. Clients will be contacted if brand colors are used in a way that makes contrast remedification difficult without drastically altering the design.
Our target is to have all text meet the minimal 4.5:1 contrast ratio no matter the font size. This is a slight step above WCAG 2.0 AA
Note: Content providers are still responsible for the accessibility of the colors they maintain in the CMS.
Page Titles and Headings
We are working to ensure that all pages have a unique title and level 1 and 2 headings applied to them.
Note: Content providers are still responsible for the accessibility of page titles and headings they maintain in the CMS.
Regions and iFrames
We are working to ensure that all primary page regions and iFrames and labeled properly. External advertisements are the more difficult for us to make compliant as we have little to no control over their content.
Video Captioning (YouTube Only)
Captioning of videos is currently only available via the native YouTube embedded interface. Enabling this in the platform disables the pre-roll advertisement interface.
Google Custom Search is being added to sites that do not already have one. Search is an effective way of providing an alternative way for users to navigate to content.
What do we need to do to ensure our site remains ADA compliant?
While SIDEARM continues to implement overall changes to help all clients meet the highest standards, we often get questions about what our clients can do themselves to ensure that their sites are continuing to meet accessibility standards. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is launching a new technical assistance initiative to assist educational and affiliated (i.e. athletics) learn how to make and keep their websites accessible. OCR is hosting 3 webinars on web accessibility.
View the following page for information on signing up for these webinars: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-launches-new-website-accessibility-technical-assistance-initiative
Please see our ADA Instruction Guide for more information.