You set up your business and you made a company website. It looks great, you’re getting a ton of traffic, and your team loves the design.
But what about your visitors? Can you say with complete confidence that any person on any device with any type of disability navigate your site or media content with ease or restriction?
Most people know someone with a disability, have someone in their family with a disability, or may become disabled at some point in their life. When you publish a website or piece of media content, you are at risk of accidentally excluding a lot of people, some of whom could become customers or supporters. or example:
- Studies conducted on people with vision problems have found that 1 in 188 people are blind, 1 in 30 people have low vision, and 1 in 12 men are color-blind either partially or completely.
- Concerning users with motor impairments, a 2004 study by Microsoft found that 7% of working age adults have a severe dexterity difficulty that would likely force them to seek alternative methods for navigating on the web.
- For the deaf and hard of hearing, the World Health Organization estimates that close to 470 million people in the world have a hearing loss that could be considered disabling.
- According to the W3C, it’s estimated that 15–20% of the population has some form of difficulty with text or language comprehension.
In today’s piece, we’ll be discussing legal requirements for demonstrating accessibility on your organization’s website, what accessibility is, why accessibility is important, and how you can create accessible media content with CaseGuard.
Website Accessibility and the Law
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination by “places of public accommodation.” This includes government agencies, public non-profits, and even privately-owned small businesses. In practice, this means that the ADA mandates that businesses, nonprofit services providers and state and local governments make accommodations for people with disabilities so they can access the same services as patrons who are not disabled.
When we talk about website accessibility, we are talking about how we can make websites usable to a person with a disability. The ADA actually says nothing directly about websites in its language. In fact, the word website doesn’t appear once in the entire statute. However, the ADA applies to websites. Why? The ADA prohibits discrimination in any services provided by a business that’s covered by the statute. Because a website can be considered to be part of a business, it’s covered, which means businesses have to make their websites accessible.
What are businesses required to do to make their website accessible?
The ADA itself offers no guidance on how to make a website accessible. Consequently, courts have required businesses to comply with international voluntary standards, essentially what are The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of rules or guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
The WCAG 2.0 was created and published on December 11, 2008. By June 2018, WCAG 2.1 was initialized. The WCAG standards are generally referring to the content or information on a webpage but can include applications and mobile data as well. Both the 2.0 and 2.1 standards are acceptable. The minimum legal requirement legislated at this time is to be compliant to 2.0 standards. However, the WCAG is encouraging everyone to stay up to date with the current standard definitions.
WCAG 2.0 is organized around four principles, which people refer to as POUR.
- Perceivable. Can users understand the content? Information displayed and the user elements must be presented to users in ways that they can perceive. An example would be providing captioning ot text alternatives to non-text content
- Operable. Can users navigate and browse content? If someone can’t use a mouse or a trackpad, are they still able to access information? Have you provided a variety of ways for the user to migrate around your site to locate content or find files?
- Understandable. Can users understand the content? Can users avoid errors and correct them? Is the content organized in a predictable fashion?
- Robust. Can users access content even if they’re using assistive technology or a different browser?
How to Make Content Accessible With Closed Captioning and Transcription
Transcription is one of many ways in which you can make your site or media content more accessible. Transcription occurs when you take video or audio content and convert it into displayed readable text. Transcribing is especially useful, because it can make content accessible to the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
To make sure that your transcripts are accessible, the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) recommends you prioritize:
Similar to transcribing, captioning also makes auditory presentations equally available to all users, even those with hearing disabilities or those who may speak another language. Captioning is a process that requires breaking up transcript text into separate pieces, and time-coding each frame to synchronize with the audio of a video. See how easy it is to caption your media with CaseGuard's automatic captioning capability.
Translation, when done properly, can be extremely time-consuming. It is difficult to build a site for one language, then stop and think through the modification of the original text into a new language. What can also be take a great deal of time is that for accessibility reasons, all text or audio that had been made easier for those with hearing disabilities, including transcriptions in video, must also be changed.
However, there are many benefits to doing this. Were you aware that out of the 50 United States that 20 of them do not list English as their official language? That is 40% of U.S. States where the official language could be Spanish, French, or even Cherokee. Languages open doors to reaching more users and making your site and business more accessible to everyone.
With CaseGuard, translating audio or text can be done with the click of a button, as the video below demonstrates clearly.