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Why does your website need to comply with ADA Section 508 Compliance?
By: Skynet Technologies USA LLC
Apr 23, 21
Apr 23, 2021
ADA Section 508 Compliance

Many businesses were shaken up when they got to know about the legal litigations that were filed against their companies. These numbers kept on surging to an appalling level and why shouldn’t they when nearly 20% of the people in America are having disability of some kind or the other are being excluded from web accessibility. This raised an alarm among the business enterprises who realized the need for accessibility to save their companies from the intricate lawsuits and also presented an opportunity to reach a wider audience.

There are no enforceable legal standards at present in the USA. However, Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards published by the Department of Justice have been striving to make the websites and other digital assets accessible to everyone including people with disabilities. In addition to ADA, the federal, state, and local government websites must comply with Section 508 regulations.

Let us understand what Section 508 is and why your website needs to comply with it.

What is ADA Section 508 Compliance?

Section 508 is an amendment to the US Workforce Rehabilitation Act, 1973. It is a federal law mandating the electronic and ICT sources used, developed, procured, or maintained by the federal governments to be accessible to all. It brings people with disabilities like blindness, deafness, motor disabilities, and others under its gambit. And it is applicable to websites, web-based applications, emails, PDFs, software programs, devices, etc.

Section 508 mandates websites to meet technical requirements like code, software, os, etc. that is compatible with the assistive technologies, functional requirements to make the entire website usable by people with disabilities, support requirements wherein the support documents to be accessed by people with disabilities. If your website doesn’t meet these requirements, then it is not compliant with accessibility standards.

It also incorporated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 level AA as its standard for website accessibility compliance. WCAG 2.0 and 2.2 guidelines like keyboard-only navigation, built-in screen reader capabilities, alt text for images, color contrast, and more are included under it.

You need to perform Section 508 compliance testing to verify if your website is meeting these standards. You can do this in two ways. One way is to evaluate your website through a web accessibility checker and the other way is to have a Section 508 compliance checklist provided in a voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT).

How is Section 508 different from ADA?

Both Section 508 and ADA focus on accessibility but they differ in the audience, scope, purpose, and penalties.

Audience - ADA pertains to a large audience when compared to Section 508 as ADA focuses on all kinds of business - both public and private, nonprofit to state governments. While Section 508 requires only federal departments and agencies funded by it.

Scope - ADA covers wider public places. But when it comes to digital space, the scope of ADA is limited when compared to Section 508. Section 508 only refers to ICT that entails websites, phones, software, and digitally published materials.

Purpose - Both are aimed at making the world a much better place in terms of accessibility. While ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, Section 508 covers equal access to electronic and IT associated with federal governments.

Penalties - Failing to comply with ADA rules comes with a heavy fine. Section 508 violations lead to formal complaints and lawsuits. It can also lead to the loss of federal funding.

Both these should work in tandem to make the world both physical and digital an equal and accessible space for people with disabilities.

Why does your website need to comply with Section 508?

All the businesses should make Section 508 a priority and make their website compliance a priority. Fulfilling the Section 508 requirements will result in avoiding costly legal litigations. Section 508 if adhered to, is not just meant to stay on the right side of the law but also has tangible benefits to the business. If you fail to comply with 508 compliance, the prospects of your business would be hurt severely.

With millions of disabled people who quite often struggle to find information on a daily basis, one needs to think of building businesses that provide solutions to these pertinent problems of the customers. Their needs shouldn’t be given a step-motherly treatment while building business websites. They shouldn’t be jumping over hurdles to get a task done while using a website.

Among the 20% of the Americans with disabilities, about half of them are having severe disabilities. If you do not pay heed to the accessibility needs of your audience, you are going to lower the page views thereby limiting your reach.

You can be better connected to your user base by covering a large proportion of people with disabilities. It also improves your brand reputation among your users as you taking a moral ground by making your digital assets accessible to all. If people feel like their needs are considered, the chances of them coming back to your website also increase.

You can also lift the morale of your employees by letting them be part of your vision of making a difference in society. You can build a work culture that is compassionate to the needs of these people with disabilities.

With ADA web accessibility consultant team, we build ADA compliant websites, make strategic designs, and conduct proper compliance audits to improve the accessibility of your website, reduce your legal exposure, and widen your reach on the web.

Above all, it is one of the ultimate customer-centric strategies. Customers want a website that is accessible and offers a frictionless experience to them that sets you apart from the cluttered websites. You are also making your customers know that their independence matters to you immensely. For this to happen, make sure you provide them what they’ve been looking for while browsing your website. This results in improved customer relationships and even pumps your energy to serve better in the future.

Another added bonus is to showcase your company as a law-abiding one and also fighting discrimination making the web an inclusive space for everyone.

Bottom line

Skynet Technologies has a professional and experienced website development team who can help you comply with Section 508 standards.

We deliver accessible and results-driven websites that are optimized for all individuals. We have specialized compliance services and experienced professionals to improve your website accessibility. We also offer accessibility compliance through consultation services wherein we focus on understanding your goals and requirements and try to get the accessibility right. We offer a full package of ADA compliant website design to help your business stay competitive & unleash new growth potential.

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Top 7 Facts About Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.2 You Must Know!
By: Skynet Technologies USA LLC
Apr 12, 21
Apr 12, 2021
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG

The World Wide Web Consortium(W3C) is the supreme authority for laying out the accessibility goals through web design and build. These are to be universal and followed worldwide by all business enterprises. It has laid out Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that rule how to make your web content accessible to all including people with disabilities or different needs. Accessibility entails a wide range of disabilities that include visual, auditory, speech, cognitive, physical, and neurological disabilities. WCAG guidelines have been the cardinal principles for businesses to make them universally accessible.

The W3C has been updating the accessibility guidelines and finalized the most recent version i.e. WCAG (2.2)

Here are some of the quick facts about the latest WCAG2.2 version.

1. WCAG 2.2 is a working draft, not a final version

The expected date of the WCAG 2.2 accessibility publication is anticipated to be in June 2021 and the final date has been pushed from its earlier stipulated timelines. So it is still in its draft state. The first draft was likely to be released at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. If you have any feedback, you can submit it to the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group via GitHub or the W3C mailing list.

2. WCAG 2.2 is expected to become a recommendation around June 2021

Earlier it was supposed to be around November 2020. But pushed to June 2021. It is going to be an official recommendation soon. It would become a legal requirement after the publication.

3. WCAG 2.2 is rooted in WCAG 2.1

Just like how WCAG 2.1 guidelines were built on 2.0, in the same way, WCAG 2.2 is built on WCAG 2.1. These updates that extend WCAG 2.x series of guidelines are backward compatible and they keep up with the conformance model. This means the current criteria include the addition of the new guidelines to the already existing guidelines. Most enterprises aim for level A and AA conformance. Any changes that are rolled out will not impact them in a major way and hence most organizations can lay back and relax and they are likely to meet the conformance standards. So, if your organization meets WCAG 2.1 guidelines, chances are that you will not be impacted much by the new guidelines. This, however, is not applicable to the earlier version guidelines such as 2.0.

4. Likely to have 9 success criteria

The current draft shows 9 new success criteria.

  • 4 at Level A with Focus Visible Enhanced
  • 4 at Level AA
  • 1 at Level AAA

These criteria aim at assisting users having low vision, cognitive & learning disabilities, motor disabilities. This benefits the users who have disabilities on mobile devices.

Let us look into the current editor’s draft WCAG 2.2 criteria

Level A

  1. Accessible Authentication
  2. Findable Help
  3. Fixed Reference Points
  4. Redundant Entry

Level AA

  1. Dragging Movements
  2. Focus Appearance (Minimum)
  3. Visible Controls
  4. Pointer Target Spacing

Level AAA

  1. Focus Appearance (Enhanced)

Some criteria may be moved between levels. For instance, one current criterion may move from Level AA to Level A. Since most enterprises require to conform to Level A and AA, any change in this will have zero or negligible impact on business requirements.

Listed below are some success criteria:

  1. Focus Appearance (Minimum and Advanced) - This is for the benefit of sighted users who navigate the web pages with the keyboard have a clearly visible focus indicator for the page pointers. Here the focus indicators and minimum contrast are denied. For level AA it should be in the contrast ratio of 3.1 and for level AAA, it should be 4.5 to 1.
  2. Fixed Reference Points - This is for EPUB and other publication formats. Things like page numbers, page locators should be accessible and adjustable when the page is displayed.
  3. Dragging - Drag-and-drop actions should be precise and this is important for people with motor disabilities.
  4. Pointer Target Size - You need to activate small buttons on touch screens which is usually challenging for people with motor disabilities. Have a minimum distance between two interactive elements to help people avoid any unnecessary activation of wrong elements.
  5. Finding Help - This makes it easier for the users who need help finding information like contact information or FAQs, etc.
  6. Hidden Controls - Some elements like buttons are hidden to reduce the visual clutter on the webpage. Visitors may struggle to complete the task if there is any difficulty.
  7. Accessible Authentication - People tend to be forgetful of their authentication details. So there must be cognitive tests for remembering details.
  8. Redundant Entry - Some forms require inputs to be entered more than once. So one needs to avoid the mechanical entries and there should be less strain filling forms.

5. WCAG 2.3 unlikely to be there

As we go forward, there won’t be a WCAG 2.3. Efforts are being directed towards a future accessibility guideline i.e. WCAG 3.0, which will be a major succession version of the WCAG guidelines. They won’t be backward compatible. No official name is set yet but contemplation is that a first public working draft would be out anytime soon. The final version is anticipated to be published around November 2023.

6. Supporting Documents are in progress

There is a core working group that has been relentlessly working on building techniques that will suffice to go into the document. Any failure instances in the WCAG 2 series guidelines will lay special emphasis on creating techniques for the new criteria in WCAG 2.2. The additional supporting documents on how to meet WCAG 2.2 are in progress and these would be helpful for understanding WCAG 2.2.

7. WCAG 2.2 adoption into the existing regulations is still unknown

  • There is no information about the adoption of the details into Section 508 by the US Government
  • Not until the 2nd half of the year 2021, these WCAG 2.2 guidelines will be referenced by the accessibility advocates in the litigation and settlement agreements.
  • Some US states, higher educational institutions, enterprises, and organizations adopted WCAG 2.1 while others are still on 2.0. Some are likely to adopt these latest standards while a few others may hold back.
  • The W3C standards body that has created EU standard EN 301 549 will also foresee WCAG 2.2 criteria for the inclusion of it in the EU standard. Of course, this may take several months and there are no confirmed details as yet.
  • We do expect the Department of Justice (DoJ) to take a more proactive stance on digital web accessibility.

Any business enterprise or for that matter anyone who wants an inclusive webspace would consider their way of doing business and their digital sources to be ADA web compliant. If you strive to be one, you would want to track these updates as they are important in the design of the digital content. You are also free to contribute any feedback or comments to the W3C.

The existing draft of WCAG 2.2 standards are in the AMP platform and these are not finalized yet. They are still in the draft nature. Once these standards are locked down, AMP will be updated with the latest WCAG version. Before that happens, it is required to actively consider each criterion, evaluate it automatically and manually, and all address a testing approach in the platform for every new criterion.

Skynet Technologies is offering ADA compliant website design and development services followed by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards. We can make your Drupal, WordPress, Magento, PHP, Laravel website or Android, iOS Mobile App ADA Compliant to make it accessible for everyone.

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Top 4 Web Accessibility Solutions for an optimized experience of Ecommerce Brands!
By: Skynet Technologies USA LLC
Apr 02, 21
Apr 02, 2021
Web Accessibility Solutions

Have you ever come across a well-built website but surprisingly hard to navigate? Imagine a person with some sort of disability visiting your ecommerce website but due to its poor accessibility, they have no option other than dropping off your site and may even go to your competitor. What if I say, there are nearly 50 million people in the USA alone and 1 billion all over the world people with one or the other disability? Can your ecommerce website afford to lose this astonishing number of consumers?

Unfortunately, that’s what happens if you do not make web accessibility an essential tenet of your ecommerce web development process. Most companies play a second fiddle to web accessibility when they are designing their ecommerce website. This continued till that point when many ecommerce giants had to face sudden legal litigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) published by the Department of Justice, USA.

Web accessibility is critical to ensure an optimized experience for your customers regardless of their physical or cognitive capabilities. Web accessibility is pretty much similar to how you make your brick-and-mortar stores accessible to people with disabilities. You need to focus on making certain improvements and add features to make your ecommerce website accessible and easily navigable by everyone. Of late, web accessibility has become increasingly crucial for providing an enhanced user experience and avoid accessibility-related lawsuits.

Importance of Website Accessibility Solutions

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was developed in the year 1990 by the Department of Justice (DoJ) which requires businesses to make accommodations for people with disabilities.

Let us share with you one important incident that happened in the year 2012. No, definitely not the frenzy created around Mayan’s doomsday! The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) accused Netflix, the popular video streaming service of being inaccessible to people with hearing impairments. It was lacking a closed captioning option that would have helped deaf people.

Although ADA didn’t specifically mention digital resources, it was then proclaimed that due to the unprecedented internet penetration all over the world, even digital sources like websites have to be accessible to all including people with disabilities. Netflix was ordered to immediately provide captions to all of its streamed content and also pay a hefty penalty.

Similar incidents did happen with other companies for different accessibility reasons. But the judgment was the same! Enterprises were ordered to make their digital assets accessible to everyone. So, it is essential for you to understand how you can make your website accessible and compliant with the accessibility guidelines to avoid expensive lawsuits as well as build websites that are appealing to all customers.

  1. Incorporate the four WCAG Accessibility Principles

    Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are to be considered while you plan out on building an accessible website. For this, your website must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

    Perceivable - Make your content available to everyone so that they can access and navigate with ease. For instance, include a descriptive alt-text tag for images which helps the screen readers interpret and communicate to the visually challenged users. Add captions to the streamed or recorded videos to help the hearing-impaired users. You can rely on tools that make this process automated or go for a skilled person who would get it done for you with utmost precision.

    Operable - An operable ecommerce website is easy to navigate. For instance, if a user finds it difficult to use a mouse and usually relies on keyboard shortcuts should find your ecommerce site to be maneuvered using the keyboard. If your website has graphic content or animations, then it has to give some time to the people to comprehend your content and have a simulating experience on your ecommerce site.

    Understandable - How about the readability aspects of your content? For example, the structure and content of your website should be consistent and predictable all across the website. It should also explain any jargon used or abbreviations included on the site to let the customers understand the intent. There are many plugins like Yoast that analyze your website to help you make your content understandable.

    Robust - Keep your website updated and stay current on all modern website design trends and integrate them with the latest assistive technologies. This is the technical aspect of accessibility so you can hire a web developer to check if you are staying current on the trends and technologies. You can also get a second opinion from friends having disability issues to uncover any neglected issues.

  2. Allow Multi-device Experience

    To improve the accessibility of your ecommerce website, you need to make it accessible on a variety of web browsers and devices. Essentially, if a visitor opens your ecommerce website on any device be it a desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, or they are accessing your website using assistive technology like a screen reader, there shouldn’t be any hassles. This, in turn, boosts your customer satisfaction thereby having an impact on customer retention as well.

  3. Create an accessibility guide

    Your ecommerce website can provide a web accessibility guide to the users which comes in handy for those users who are using assistive technologies for navigating through your website. This accessibility guide serves as a roadmap for them with information on how to navigate and make purchases using assistive technology. It also contains any alternative solutions if the website is not up to the full accessibility standards. Other data includes information about the ecommerce store contact details so they can approach the customer service if they encounter any challenges.

  4. Conduct User Research

    While there have been plenty of guidelines about creating an accessible ecommerce website, you need to have a real-time experience by understanding the customers’ pain points. You cannot get that out of thin air unless you step into the field to find out the challenges the shoppers are facing while interacting with your ecommerce site. Is there are a difficulty for the people relying on screen readers to navigate through the website? Do people with color blindness can differentiate the CTAs from the background? You can prepare a questionnaire to ask for real shoppers and learn about the challenges they face from having an optimized experience on your online store. Learn about their preferences, capabilities, and more to avoid alienation of them.

Bottomline

Enhance the user experience by including accessibility features such as search by voice, video transcripts, accurate alt tag descriptions, keyboard-based navigation, increase content readability, and many others. All these factors streamline the user flow for all not just disabled users. Building a user experience-focused digital store definitely takes your website experience to a different level for everyone.

Remember, your website is the face of your online business and you don’t want to lose out on your potential customers over accessibility issues which if included has a plethora of other benefits that is beneficial even for non-disabled users. So, what’s stopping you? Click here to know about our accessibility services.

Skynet Technologies build ADA compliant websites, make strategic designs, and conduct proper compliance audits to improve the accessibility of your website, reduce your legal exposure, and widen your reach on the web. We also offer accessibility compliance through consultation services wherein we focus on understanding your goals and requirements and try to get the accessibility right.

Request a Quote for ADA Web Accessibility Consultation!

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ADA Web Accessibility Solution for Custom BigCommerce Apps!
By: Skynet Technologies USA LLC
Mar 27, 21
Apr 01, 2021
Custom BigCommerce Apps

One of the most dynamic realms on the web is the ecommerce business. With the rapid evolution of technological trends and rising customer expectations, most businesses are striving to make their mark in the ecommerce space by taking every opportunity to build and grow their business. The primary motive of all these businesses who are grappling to race to the top in their niche area is to provide the best and most memorable user experience.

The ecommerce businesses are leaving no stone unturned in providing a customer experience like never before. Be it the promotional offer or loyalty discounts, live product customizations to an exclusive sneak peek of the products, these online merchants are going the extra mile to keep the customer satisfaction level high at all times.

However, there is a certain section of customers who feel deprived of this experience and face access issues to the products of their choice. As per a survey, in the USA alone, there are nearly 56 million people with disabilities compromising around 25% of the American population. Out of which nearly 10% are having visual impairment challenges. So, an online store despite being banking on the visual experience, a section of these customers fails to access and make a purchase. Hence, came the need to build an accessible ecommerce store.

What is ADA compliance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 by the Department of Justice. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. These standards are also applicable to all electronic and IT including software. All the businesses have to make sure that their products and services are accessible to all consumers including people with disabilities. Even their online resources like web applications, mobile applications, webpages, etc. should be accommodating everyone without discrimination.

How do I know if my BigCommerce app is accessible?

If you want to make your BigCommerce app accessible, you need to adhere to the web content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) laid down by W3C, a dedicated international organization meant for web development standards. All websites should follow these guidelines to improve their web accessibility.

WCAG has introduced 4 web content and design principles to improve accessibility.

  1. Perceivable - The visually impaired should be able to perceive the non-text content on the web. For instance, videos, images should have transcripts and alt text to help blind users.
  2. Operable - Your website should be easily usable by everyone. The user should be able to navigate from one page to the other through the keyboard without the need for a mouse.
  3. Understandable - Easy rendering and predictability aspects. There shouldn’t be sudden or unexpected content changes on your website.
  4. Robust - The content should be robust enough with valid code markup so that it can be easily parsed by any machine especially assistive technologies.

If you are building a custom BigCommerce App and want to make it accessible, these WCAG rules help you go a long way in your journey.

Need for ADA Web Accessibility for Your BigCommerce Apps

BigCommerce is one of the robust and scalable ecommerce platforms available powering up many online stores. It offers lucrative features and builds lightweight ecommerce stores. But, merely using BigCommerce doesn’t ensure ADA compliance. Suppose, you have built a visually compelling ecommerce store using BigCommerce. However, the color palette is challenging for someone with a visual disability. The fonts might be smaller, color contrast was not properly maintained, difficult to find CTAs, no proper hierarchy for the headings, and more. These jeopardize the overall experience of the customers.

So, essentially, even a good user interface may result in delivering a poor user experience. Hence, one needs to make their BigCommerce apps ADA compliant to keep the website layout accessible to people with disabilities. You can customize the app as per the users’ disabilities and improve the accessibility aspects. Primary changes would be the font style, font size, theme color, simple layout, highlighting hyperlinks, and maintaining the heading structure.

The primary reason, thus, is to provide the best top-of-the-funnel customer experience. Also, you are striving to build inclusive web space by not alienating a section of potential customers. In addition to building good business, you can also avoid any legal lawsuits an inaccessible BigCommerce store may attract.

How do you ensure ADA web accessibility for custom BigCommerce App?

BigCommerce apps can be made ADA compliant either on their own or with third-party support.

  1. Alt tags - BigCommerce has an in-built catalog tool that lets you add ‘alt text’ for the visual content like product images, web images, videos, etc. You can rely on the built-in WYSIWYG editor for the non-text content.
  2. Customizable - BigCommerce also lets you add the scripts or code to your theme’s code to improve accessibility.
  3. Accessible Content - The content can be made accessible by having a proper heading hierarchy with distinguished font size, style, and color. Focus on the content scaling, highlight the links, use text magnification, adjust font sizing, maintain line and letter spacing, choose readable fonts, and proper alignment. There are tools like content scaling, text magnifier, for improving web accessibility.
  4. Color Adjustments - BigCommerce app comes with a separate color palette section to let the users make customizations to the layouts. One can focus on the contrast, saturation, and monochrome for better visibility.
  5. Orientation Adjustments - The users can personalize the orientations for accessibility purposes. You can opt for a virtual keyboard, a reading guide, hide distracting images and animations, highlighting hovers, and more.

There are several tools available in the market to help you identify any potential accessibility issues and find the design elements that are lowering the usability of your custom BigCommerce app.

With a team of creative web designers, we have a great understanding of the theme layouts, design elements, to use them dynamically and comply with the ADA rules.

Benefits of Web Accessibility solutions for Custom BigCommerce Apps

With the powerful BigCommerce capabilities, you can enhance your customer experience for people with disabilities and deliver engaging experiences devoid of accessibility barriers. Make your BigCommerce apps inclusive and help engage equally. You are empowering people with disabilities and providing them an opportunity to engage better with your brand. You can as well mitigate the legal risks. It is imperative to build profitable businesses.

Bottomline

Building accessible BigCommerce apps require an in-depth understanding of the platform as well as design aspects. Our BigCommerce development team is willing to take up the accessibility aspects of your custom apps by adhering to ADA and WCAG guidelines. We help you mitigate legal litigations, enhance your overall user experience for people with disabilities, and streamline your web accessibility efforts.

Skynet Technologies offer ADA Compliant Website Design, Accessibility Web Development, ADA Compliance Audit, ADA Compliance Mobile App, and other ADA Compliance Services. We can develop any BigCommerce website, ecommerce website or BigCommerce store or custom app an ADA Compliant. If you need to conduct a BigCommerce ADA compliance audit, we are here to help you.

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