What do you mean by a compliant website? What does it take to be compliant?
Who makes these compliance norms and rules to make sure accessibility?
Being new to the whole compliance world can make it difficult for a business to abide by the compliance rules making their services and products accessible for people of all classes, races and abilities.
Governing bodies of different countries make these accessibility norms, web accessibility is a highly technical field, regulated in various ways by countries of every size around the world. No single set of rules to follow, rather the term accessibility, is an ever-changing landscape where the bar is constantly getting higher, with the goal of achieving universal access for everyone and serving all the countless populations of the globe.
Accessibility Compliance Guidelines
ADA- The Americans with Disabilities Act
WCAG- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Section 508- Rehabilitation Act of 1973
EN 301 549- A European standard for digital accessibility
HIPAA- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
AODA- The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
ATAG- Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines
CVAA- The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
DDA- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 Australia
Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act Norway
Arab Accessibility Initiatives
What standards apply?
Your company may be based in one country (in the USA or elsewhere), may operate business elsewhere around the globe providing services and products. The Standard of compliance and the requirements to meet accessibility is, of course, the same as the internet is open to the world. Some of the relevant standards are listed just above.
Everyone needs to and should be able to access the web so the standards are followed. Companies are legally required to follow them, but also because it is the right and fair thing to do. It’s why POLODA AI was created and it guarantees proper accessibility. What’s important about the specific standards set, and compliance with them, is that when you’ve made sure your site is in fact compliant, you know that most or all user challenges that people complain of will be removed, clearing the way for greater and freer use and enjoyment of your site.
And, in nearly every case, eliminating obstacles to full access invites the certainty of greater revenues for the site owner. That’s a nice bonus.
We should mention that aside from doing the right thing, it is wise to protect your business from legal action regarding any lack of compliance, whether the litigation is justified or not. POLODA AI helps you do that.
Who sets standards?
Standards-setting bodies are often independent, however could in some cases be government-run. They're composed of accessibility advocates who work and care enough concerning accessibility to involve themselves seriously. These people usually come back from a background of getting a disability themselves, having a loved one or dearest with a disability, working in disability spaces, feeling powerfully actuated to make a sensible amendment within the world or some combination of the above.
The bottom line is that these are individuals with good reason to think about accessibility, and a great deal of thought has been given to every compliance measure put into place. That’s before the discussions manifest themselves relating to what extremely fits best for the best variety of individuals, and what may be placed into place. In short, these are people worth listening to, and a good deal of work, thought, effort, and time has gone into the creation and maintenance of sets of standards both locally and internationally. These standards are never arbitrary. They deserve our respect and our compliance.
What makes a website compliant?
While there are many, many details to take into account, the overall aim is always to strive to ensure that all users can access your content, or at least the greatest number of users possible.
Consider the various disabilities that may interfere with access.
People who are blind or visually impaired will often be using screen readers. Can the majority of screen readers work with your content? Does your site have alt text? Do the important functions of your site present only visually, or have you provided alternative options?
For those who can see but perhaps need colour-blindness functionality, greater contrast, larger text, or a different font: what options have you set up for their use?
People who are deaf or hard of hearing will need captioning and transcription for any audio or video with audio. And so forth. Clearly, there are many, many considerations.
Start with the POLODA AI widget and see what violations can be cleared immediately. You may be surprised at how effective it is. In fact, it may clean your site up entirely.
Then, if you see that further investigation and remediation is needed, decide if you need the POLODA AI advanced widget, or, at the next level, a manual site audit.
All steps toward compliance are good steps. That still leaves your way forward open to creating greater accessibility for your content. See where you can get started, and start.
What compliance means: intent
At first, the regulatory environment may seem like a tangled mess of overlapping and sometimes contradictory laws, but there is a great deal of agreement on what compliance means. It comes down to the basic principles of POUR.
POUR is a four-letter acronym you'll find a lot in the accessibility space. These high-level principles encompass functional accessibility: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
We perceive things in the world via our senses. For users, the available senses in most spaces online or in tech are currently seeing and hearing, with touch at hand as well where haptics are included. New technologies may allow us to interface via touch, smell, or taste. Those would also be included in “perceivable”.
We operate controls, navigation, buttons, and other interactive elements in order to control an interface. When users can interact with an interface in this way, it is known as operability. Many users may identify elements visually and subsequently swipe or click. Other users will utilize voice commands or a keyboard.
What makes something understandable? Consistency of format and presentation, and predictability of design and use patterns, are part of what makes technology reliable and easy to navigate. Multimodal and concise content that is tone and voice appropriate is also more understandable. When content is comprehensible to users, they’ll find the interface more available to them. They’ll learn to use it, and remember it without a great deal of trouble.
Is your IT designed to function on all relevant technologies? Does it comply fully with all necessary standards? Can users choose how they interact with your material online, i.e., documents, websites, multimedia, etc? If the answer is yes to all of the above, that is robust.
Principles such as POUR can apply to many situations, online and off. Although they were originally intended to describe accessibility on the web, they are clearly pertinent in other areas of accessibility. Anyone working in technology should provide users with the ability to access their technology via perception, operation, and understanding. All tech should work robustly across multiple platforms, and assistive technologies must be included in that list.
Privacy by Design
For example, a common thread you’ll find at the centre of almost all web accessibility standards is privacy protection for web users. People with disabilities should never be required to submit private information about their diagnoses or be forced to label themselves as even having one. Additionally, some types of personal information should never be used for marketing purposes without explicit consent, and disabilities are at the top of that list.
That is why POLODA AI does not store or collect any personally identifiable information about our users.
We believe in Privacy by Design, which means all of our products are planned from the very beginning to not require personal information in order to operate. User privacy is a central principle that guides all of the decisions we make as a company.
Beyond preserving individual privacy, compliance standards seek to ensure everyone is able to access the internet without facing unnecessary barriers or hurdles. Just because someone is differently-abled doesn’t mean they should be excluded from the many benefits of using the internet. And, as more government agencies and businesses moving many of their services online, universal access has become a requirement. It’s almost impossible to function in modern society without navigating the web.
Because of this new level of necessary access, compliance standards are increasing in importance, and the number of new standards created every year continues to grow.
The speed at which compliance standards are changing, and the increasingly technical nature of the field, have made it increasingly difficult for most web developers and IT departments to stay current. This has led to the development of businesses like POLODA AI that specialise in accessibility and help organisations navigate their compliance journeys while simplifying the process along the way.
How do we make compliance easy?
Automated remediation based on a true and basic human desire to expand accessibility for all users is our starting point. The POLODA AI Accessibility Widget contains all the rules needed to adhere to global compliance standards and is able to scan and remediate websites to bring them up to those high levels of compliance.
And, as compliance standards change, the widget changes with them: we constantly update it and are continually researching new and expanded definitions of and standards for accessibility.
Without this tool, organizations are left using web developers to hand-code updates across all pages on their websites, which, as might be expected, is generally a time-consuming and expensive process. It also leaves a lot of room for errors and omissions.
POLODA AI has moved beyond basic automation to ensure strict compliance. Since almost every website contains some custom code, simple automation can’t interpret everything it scans. That’s why we developed an AI-powered accessibility widget that can decipher the structure of any site. It also writes grammatically-correct descriptions of the images it scans so screen readers can describe them to users who are visually impaired. No other website compliance solution is more efficient, or more cost-effective.
The speed at which a website can be made compliant is also critical with regard to litigation.
As compliance guidelines turn into compliance laws, businesses of all sizes with non-compliant websites are being targeted by lawsuits. This is clearly a financial liability, and, importantly, it also harms sales numbers and downgrades the digital reputation of a company when a large percentage of site visitors can’t gain full access. Demonstrating the ability to quickly remediate all the pages on a site while also being responsive to people with disabilities is the safest way to avoid financial losses and lengthy court cases.
Standards to Follow
The most important standards you should know are briefly described below with links to pages that contain more details. Please note: just because a law originates in another country, outside where your organisation is based, does not mean the law does not apply. Most countries have signed treaties and other agreements that require their businesses and other organizations to follow their web compliance standards. This is why, for example, most companies in the USA are compliant with GDPR, which was enacted by the European Union. POLODA AI products and services meet and often exceed, all of the standards listed here.
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