Compliant: 4 Reasons Your Strategy Should Evolve concerning ADA Compliance
Why does “Compliant” keep changing when referring to ADA Compliance is a statement we often get from clients.
‘You instructed me to carry out actions A, B, and C. These last two years have been dedicated to that work. What I hear you saying now is that I should likewise do A and B, but I should avoid doing Z. What the heck is going on?!’
The preceding response is sometimes accompanied by much more colorful language, and the customer is understandably quite irritated because they believe we are “shifting the goal posts” or “changing the meaning of success” on them.
Rightly, as we should all acknowledge that is a reasonable and fully understandable response from a customer, I stressed in the previous phrase.
Visualize the following happening to you:
You were given a long list of difficult tasks that would cost a lot of money to do.
You finished them; it took some time and resources, but you did.
Then, surprise! You were informed that there is still more work for you to do.
The answer is obviously negative, as your response shows. This is because we in the digital accessibility sector have often failed to properly manage our customers’ expectations about the ever-evolving nature of these content upgrades, technologies, and regulations.
Clients believe (fairly so) that requirements have been established. Unfortunately, in the real world, digital media and material evolves with time and so do the solutions. Without verification or knowledge of the latest technological developments, implementers cannot confidently address problems.
Your strategy has to be adaptable for four main reasons:
1-As Time Goes On, the Content inevitably evolves
It’s very uncommon for numerous employees in an organization to contribute to a single site’s content, making for a site that is both huge and constantly evolving. Each page might exist in a number of permutations and other forms. Sites constantly update and add third-party content, often without thinking about the accessibility consequences.
It is necessary to apply the results of functional and manual testing, which are conducted on a subset of the site, to the whole site. To guarantee that updated material is accessible to users with disabilities, it must be tracked, evaluated, and fixed as required throughout the website. Inaccessible material will continue to find its way onto a site if the organization does not monitor, scan, and address information from external sources and teach its personnel on providing accessible content. Nowadays, it’s rare to find a website that hasn’t been updated in over two years.
2-Alterations in both Technology and Methods of Implementing Requirements
The standards are also affected by two major technological shifts. What is technically feasible evolves over time in response to developments in the assistive technology and accessibility features relied upon by persons with impairments.
That, in turn, leads to modifications in the strategies that are advised. Accessibility features and requirements are also subject to change on the underlying technological platforms on which this is all implemented (often web browsers and mobile platforms).
The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are the de facto standard for digital accessibility (WCAG). WCAG 2 has already seen two revisions (2.0 and 2.1), and a third (2.2) is on the horizon for later this year. Functional in nature and technology agnostic, the WCAG criteria are not set in stone, and neither are the methods used to achieve them.
As an industry expert, we can inform you that due to the rapid development of both browsers and assistive technologies, the standards that are now deemed to be “compliant” may not be so in six months’ time. That’s not due to a flaw in the digital accessibility provider, but rather to the malleability of the rules themselves.
For instance, the most popular browser and assistive technology combinations have shifted significantly over the past few years, and browsers’ support for accessibility features like visual indication of focus has evolved in recent months, with some browsers’ default implementations being more compliant now than they were then.
3-Adapting to New Standards of Usability
The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates nondiscrimination in all aspects of life. Learning how users anticipate interacting with a system is crucial to assessing whether or not that usage is fair. If a “typical” user anticipates a certain behavior, then a “typical” user with a disability would likely anticipate the same. Similarly, under the legal and regulatory criteria, if the systems are equally terrible for all users, that is genuinely, and quite plainly arguably, equal.
4-The Legal Climate Is Evolving
There are still a lot of unproven legal ideas and regulatory interpretations when it comes to ADA compliance on websites, and the field is still very much in its infancy. Our definition of “compliant” may evolve when new legal precedents are established. Moreover, plaintiff and defense lawyers may argue opposing viewpoints and opinions on an issue as the strategy of the case requires.
This is because both the standards application and the underlying website undergo regular modifications, which might affect the perceived level of compliance for a given website. That implies, in a nutshell, that the policies, processes, and procedures an organization must govern to ensure accessibility are even more crucial in digital media than they are in physical one.