Harness Your ADA Accessibility Knowledge
Without the proper knowledge or perspective around ADA accessibility, some companies view a “tagged” document as good enough for ADA compliance. Others promote a more “willing to learn” strategy to discover who needs accessibility, how it provides equal access to customers and how everyone can benefit from it. Where does your company stand?
Willing to learn
In many ways, ADA compliance is an area of ongoing learning. It continually challenges us to answer the question: how do you apply what you have learned to everyday experiences? The answer is to build not only your knowledge, but also your perspective.
Try this exercise to give yourself some perspective on usability: using only the arrow keys on your keyboard, navigate one of your PDF documents. Observe where the cursor moves and how long it takes. Can you make your way through the proper sequence of content down rows and across columns? Can you open your bookmark panel? Can you get to the URL links?
The ability to navigate a document is an important feature to a person with disabilities. Sometimes it is all about your perspective and an understanding of what you take for granted.
Regulated industries like mutual funds and banking typically lead the way in minimizing risk and promoting change.
Keep in mind that most of accessibility needs revolve around data driven approaches and machine readability. That doesn’t mean that you have to revamp everything. It is a foundational component where you need to understand accessibility requirements in order to translate that into any adjustment for your current environment.
That being said, for your marketing, branding and customer interaction, the most popular file format is still the PDF. It can be just as interactive and contain even more links so that your customers can obtain more information, direct them to other sections of your document or to other products, or to take action.
Here’s a few question and answers to test your knowledge of ADA Accessibility;
True or False: Does the Department of Justice (DOJ) oversee the compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
False. Recommendations for both the ADA and Federally funded programs under Section 508 and Section 504 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 are regulated by the US Access Board.
The DOJ handles litigation for Title III of ADA which requires accommodation and equal access for people with disabilities.
The trend by the DOJ is to be flexible in how a company complies with the ADA’s general nondiscrimination and effective communication requirements and to also ensure that the approach by companies matches the intent and requirements of the law. However, the law is very general and does not explicitly address the on-line or mobile applications. For example, if you only offer something on-line with no other options and that on-line offer is not accessible to people with disabilities, you are not in compliance and can face legal complications. However, if you offer an alternative such as a call center or paper form, you may be in compliance.
The challenge is that with today’s technology and digital presence there is an expectation by consumers that everything is available on-line, including accessibility to those with a disability. Call centers and paper versions may require a person disclose their disability in order to apply or receive assistance – and that’s not helpful and may compromise health information privacy.
Did you know the demographic mix of your customers can be an indicator of your accessibility need? In general, .7% or 1.6 million adults are legally blind, 1.4% or 3.4 million adults are deaf, 8% of men and .5% of women are color blind. Cognitive disabilities affect 9.7% of adults.
- Greatest Generation and traditionalists, age 76+
- in general, this group can only handle basic computer functionality.
- 42% require assistive devices to aid in daily living activities – anything from eyeglasses to wheelchairs.
- If they are 65+ and live in a nursing care facility, 96.7% have a disability.
- Baby Boomers, age 57-75
- Those older seniors, who may not identify as being a person with a disability even though they may wear glasses, have hearing loss or have difficulty being understood.
- For the first time in history, there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 14.
- Generation X, age 45-56
- This generation uses on average 1-2 screens at the same time – including multi-tasking while watching television.
- Approximately 20% use assistive technology devices.
- Generation Y age 26-44
- This generation grew up with computers and will use 2-3 screens at the same time.
- Approximately 8% use assistive technology devices.
- Generation Z age 18 – 25
- These are the college graduates. 25% actively connect within 5 minutes of waking up; 73% within an hour. Gen Z uses an average of 5 screens open at the same time.
For those requiring assistive technology, their software uses hot keys (for example, using the combination of Shift, or Control with arrow keys) to navigate documents and websites without using a mouse. This is why the method used to create your documents and build your websites is so important. This is also where color combinations and contrast, label of elements, navigation, reading sequence, etc. need to be part of your strategy.
Is your accessibility program renewable, sustainable and part of your brand and company culture? Corporations are facing increasing pressure to take stands on issues that impact society at large.
Accessibility supports many social areas and is something tangible to show for their efforts. It can drive excellence in service and value.
- Align your digital presence with your company culture.
- We are receiving more frequent requests and partnering with companies (this is often corporate driven) wanting to incorporate ADA into documents posted on their websites.
- Provide governance to your digital accessibility initiatives by establishing an advisory or steering committee on accessibility.
- Manage risk to avoid costly complaints or litigation by listening to your customers and monitoring market trends.
- Manage your eCommerce traffic so that the people you serve have equal access to all information.
- Did you know that when a person with disabilities is on-line to purchase they will go to the site that interacts with their software. This can become a driver of their decisions – and it can be more important than the features of the product being purchased.
Access to technology is access to society.
What now & what’s next?
This is an important question that this article cannot answer for you. In the corporate world accessibility provides a method to connect marketing, compliance and consumer needs. Toppan Merrill can help guide you through that process by incorporating ADA accessibility with the PDF documents you post.
Fostering accessibility helps companies thrive in our digital world, where accessibility can drive customer loyalty, product improvements and innovation. It’s up to you to make the difference.