As the world becomes ever more virtual and commerce is tailored for the Internet, it’s important that your manufacturing website be accessible by everyone, including individuals with disabilities. But what exactly are the standards and legal requirements to make this happen? Keep reading to learn more about how to ensure your manufacturing website is ADA compliant and accessible to all.
- What Is the ADA?
- What Does It Mean to Be ADA Compliant?
- Why Is ADA Compliance Important?
- Compliance Standards for Websites
- Is Your Website ADA Compliant?
What Is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 with the goal of improving access and prohibiting discrimination for individuals with disabilities. Essentially, this legislation guarantees that people with disabilities are given equal rights and opportunities across society, including employment, public spaces, transportation, government services, telecommunications, and more.
This legislation is comprised of five sections called “Titles” in order to outline requirements for specific areas of society:
- Title I: Employment dictates that employers cannot discriminate against people with disabilities, and must provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities to ensure an equal opportunity workplace
- Title II: State and Local Government applies to all local and state government agencies, activities, public transportation systems, and more
- Title III: Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities include public spaces like restaurants, hotels, medical practices, etc. while commercial facilities include office buildings, factories, warehouses, and other spaces that impact commerce
- Title IV: Telecommunications guarantees that individuals with disabilities, such as deafness or blindness, are able to communicate over the phone
- Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions outlines conditions that aren’t included in the ADA definition of disability, further describes the ADA regulations in relation to other laws or insurance requirements, and more
In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act was passed to update the original ADA from 1990. One major update in this amendment was the definition of an individual with a disability, which was revised to be “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity”. It’s important to note that this is the legal definition specifically for the ADA—it’s not the medical definition, nor is it the fixed definition across other pieces of legislation.
What Does It Mean to Be ADA Compliant?
ADA compliance essentially means that your organization is able to implement and incorporate accessibility standards into your operations and achieve the goal of the ADA legislation: a more equal and inclusive world for individuals with disabilities.
Compliance in accordance with the ADA legislation takes many forms depending on the situation or context; for example, there are physical, architectural components of compliance, such as including ramps in addition to or in place of stairs. Additionally, there is legislation that employers can’t discriminate against a job applicant with disabilities and must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
Why Is ADA Compliance Important?
ADA compliance is important because it outlines a road map for the United States to ensure consideration and equitability across the board. After all, 61 million adults in the United States have a disability; that’s more than a quarter of the entire population. On a global scale, more than 1 billion people live with a disability.
The ADA of 1990 and its amendments in 2008 were important pieces of legislation to strive towards a fair and accessible world for individuals with disabilities by establishing accessibility standards across facets of society. Following these standards demonstrates a commitment to breaking down barriers of accessibility.
Compliance Standards for Websites
Over the course of the pandemic, internet usage skyrocketed as stay-at-home orders were issued and workforces went online. As such, digital accessibility became an evermore pressing component of website design and the virtual world.
Despite having significant amendments made to it in 2008 when the Internet was vastly growing in its capabilities and importance in daily life, actual ADA legislation itself has almost no regulations for compliance or accessibility standards for non-government websites; however, under Title II of the ADA, state and government agency websites must be accessible.
It’s important to note that there have been lawsuits citing a lack of digital accessibility as ADA non-compliance, such as this case regarding Domino’s Pizza or the Winn Dixie grocery chain. Disability advocates argue that ADA legislation comes into play when a company’s website acts as a nexus to its physical location—for example, ordering pizza online for carryout.
When reviewing your manufacturing website for digital accessibility, look to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which were initially published by Gregg Vanderheimer in 1995 and which are now maintained by independent individuals and organizations from around the world in an effort to achieve digital accessibility primarily through HTML platforms. These guidelines were also accepted as an ISO standard in 2012 and remain a fixture in digital accessibility criteria.
The WCAG guidelines are outlined in a three-tier model:
- Level A: Your website is only accessible by some users
- Level AA: Your website is accessible by almost all users
- Level AAA: Your website is accessible by all users
WCAG is informed by four principles of digital accessibility:
- Be Perceivable: There should be alternatives to the way information is presented on your website, including image, text, audio, etc.
- Be Operable: Users should be able to move through your website with ease
- Be Understandable: Utilize navigational features like site tools, menu options, etc. to help users understand what they’re looking at on your website
- Be Robust: The content of your website should be universally accessible and delivered in a fair, inclusive manner no matter who the user
It’s recommended that your manufacturing website aims to be at least at Level AA and commit to embodying the principles of WCAG for inclusivity.
Is Your Website ADA Compliant?
Digital accessibility entails evaluating and adjusting many facets of your web presence to best cater to all users. When reviewing your website for accessibility practices, consider the following:
- Images: Do the pictures on your website have alt-text descriptions for users with visual impairments?
- Text: Can the scale of the text be adjusted by the user?
- Color: Are you relying on color to convey information instead of text? In this case, users who have color blindness might have difficulty perceiving the information
- Audio: Does your recorded content have closed captioning?
- Navigation: Is your site navigable via keyboard command controls such as ‘Enter,’ ‘Shift+Tab,’ and ‘Tab’?
Need A Website Accessibility Check-Up?
CMTC serves as a trusted advisor to small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs), helping them to improve productivity and global competitiveness. CMTC offers a number of HR services to help SMMs find solutions that keep their organizations safe and compliant. Our goal at CMTC is to make sure the manufacturing companies we serve understand the most updated compliance measures and enforce them effectively to protect their employees and avoid non-compliance fines. We understand that compliance laws are constantly changing and may be difficult to keep up with, which is why our experts are here to help!
About the Author
Gregg Profozich is a manufacturing, operations and technology executive who believes that manufacturing is the key creator of wealth in the economy and that a strong manufacturing sector is critical to our nation’s prosperity and security now, and for future generations. Across his 20-year plus career in manufacturing, operations and technology consulting, Mr. Profozich helped manufacturing companies from the Fortune 500 to the small, independents significantly improve their productivity and competitiveness.