Thinking Ahead About Accessibility

Mark these words, the American Disability Act will be amended to include required accessibility on websites of educational institutions that receive any government funding. The question is how much time will lapse before this happens?

The Justice Department announced last week that it is considering revising ADA regulations “to establish specific requirements for state and local governments and public accommodations to make their Web sites accessible to individuals with disabilities.” Also, lawsuits from individuals with disabilities are becoming more common with prospective students not being able to apply to a school because their applications are not accessible.

Think of the issue like wheel chair accessibility for a digital age. When the American Disability Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, imagine an old building in the middle of campus. If the architect of the building didn’t design the structure itself and the outlying landscape to one day allow the addition of ramp the time and money involved to add one in afterward is massive. Now consider every single building on campus.

How was the architecture of your website and its functional components planned? Will your CMS and interactive forms be easily converted, or need to be completely overhauled from scratch? How many hundreds or thousands of pages do you currently have on your site?

Now while websites are seemingly more pliable than brick and mortar buildings, the time and cost of converting an entire website and all its pages are enormous. It is time to be proactive and start assessing what steps you will need to take in order to make the conversion to fully accessible.

To get started a free web accessibility evaluation tool is WAVE. Download the toolbar for Firefox or enter page urls directly and test a few of your generic CMS pages along with form and data input pages to see how accessible your site currently is.

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    Cofounder, Partner, Software Development

    Located in Buffalo, NY

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