Can Automated Web Accessibility Programs Accurately Determine ADA and 508 Compliance?

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Automated Web Accessibility Programs May Not be as Precise as You Think

Can automated web accessibility programs accurately determine ADA and 508 compliance? According to the United States Access Board the answer is, NO. In fact, the Board advised, in an online training tool from May 2016, 50% of errors are likely to be overlooked with an automatic system. The Access Board further states that an automated tool should be used in web development, but not as a reliable monitoring system.

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What can be Overlooked in Automated Web Accessibility?

Links, graphics and photos need to be labeled appropriately. An automated program can determine if the object is present, but it cannot validate the item. Remember, the goal of accessibility is to give equal access to websites and information on the website. If a link is mislabeled the user will not be able to navigate the page or attachments in the same manner as a person without a visual impairment. Errors on websites negate Section 508 compliance and the American’s with Disability Act accessibility. Manual scanning of the website and accessing links will validate ADA and Section 508 compliance. Other items that can be overlooked are color contrasts, blending colors, font size, valid links, accessible attachments like PDF, Word documents and the like.

Are There Color Combinations to Avoid in Accessible Websites?

Yes, it is estimated that 8.5% of males and about .50% of females have trouble differentiating color combinations and/or color differences. The advice by professionals in the ADA/508 compliance industry is to avoid the following color combinations: green and red, green and brown, green and blue, green and black, green and grey, blue and grey, blue and purple, and light green and yellow. The best advice is to keep it simple a single color or use shading in the same color to create contrast, versus overlapping another color. Avoid using color as a sole indicator for data or to highlight or indicate a link.

If multiple colors are used avoid greens, use high contrasting colors and use a program that allows you to see the color combination from multiple viewpoints. Coblis is one of many tools available to simulate what a user with a visual impairment like colorblindness might see. (We are not affiliated with Coblis and we are not endorsing the product, we encourage researching many programs to find the one that meets your needs.)

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Are Automated Web Accessibility Programs Needed for ADA Accessibility and/or Section 508 Compliance?

Automated web accessibility programs combined with manual scanning (human eyes) are both recommended, by the United States Access Board, in ensuring ADA/508 compliance. Automatic programs can simulate a screen reader program and flag issues that a person with an assistive device or a visual impairment might have with the site. However, manual scanning also ensures complete and accurate compliance. Automated programs can only identify errors to a certain extent, but they are better at determining usability than the manual method.

Is There a Difference in Website and PDF Accessibility Standards?

Yes, a website can be in compliance with ADA and 508 standards as a stand-alone product. The issue businesses run into is non-compliant attachments; there can be a wide range of issues like mislabeled or non-accessible links and attachments. Attachments are configured in a different way for ADA and 508 standard compliance on a website and often these items are overlooked and not in full compliance.

Is There a Recommended File Format for Meeting ADA and 508 Standards?

Braille Works recommends businesses to use PDF format for attachments on websites. The reason for PDF format is the labor involved in converting the document to ADA and 508 standard compliance is considerably less than other formats; this makes the remediation cost less. Adobe reader is available free of charge and accessible to the public. Also, PDF documents cannot be altered once remediated. Altering a document after 508 standard formatting would negate the remediation, making the document non-compliant. Document remediation in a PDF format is the least expensive and most secure route to ADA compliance and following Section 508 standards.

Braille Works is the trusted industry leader in alternative document solutions for over 20-years. Contact a Braille Works 508 Compliance Specialist today to learn more about being ADA and 508 compliant.

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This post was written by Christine Sket

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