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Proposed ADA Compliance for Public Websites

ADA Sign Depot

September 26, 2013

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New Proposed ADA Requirements for Public Websites

by Marcia Kaplan

[ A good overview of proposed ADA compliance requirements for public websites. We’ve posted a few short excerpts. To read the full article by Marcia Kaplan, click here.]

…the federal government, with prodding from groups representing the disabled, is acknowledging how much of daily life the Internet affects. This past July, the U.S. Department of Justice  proposed rules mandating that all state and local government websites be accessible to those with disabilities. Later this year, the DOJ is expected to do the same for all public websites, defining them as places of “public accommodation.” Previously the term applied only to physical spaces such as retail stores, restaurants, and recreational facilities.

What to Expect

Websites will likely be required to include spoken descriptions of photos and text boxes for the blind, and captions and transcriptions of multimedia features for the deaf, among other requirements.

Unrelated to the DOJ initiative, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides the following recommendations:

  • Provide every image, video file, audio file, and plug-in with an alt tag;
  • Complex graphics should be accompanied by detailed text descriptions;
  • The alt descriptions should describe the purpose of the objects;
  • If an image is also used as a link, make sure the alt tag describes the graphic and the link destination;
  • Add captions to videos;
  • Add audio descriptions;
  • Create text transcripts;
  • Create a link to the video rather than embedding it into web pages;
  • Data tables should have the column and row headers appropriately identified using the <th> tag;
  • Table cells should be associated with the appropriate headers — with the id, headers, scope, or axis HTML attributes;
  • Provide a link to a disability-accessible page where the plug-in can be downloaded;
  • All Java applets, scripts, and plug-ins — including Acrobat PDF files and PowerPoint files — and the content within them should be accessible to assistive technologies, or else offer an alternative means of accessing equivalent content;
  • When form controls are text input fields use the LABEL element.


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