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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Defining Terminologies

What is digital accessibility?
Digital accessibility is the ability for everyone to access digital content, whether they are mobile apps, documents, or websites.

What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility refers to websites, tools, and technologies that are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.

What is accessibility testing?
Accessibility testing is a subset of usability testing, and it is performed to ensure that the application being tested is usable by people with disabilities.

What is an accessibility statement?
Organizations publish an accessibility statement on their websites to describe their policy, goals, and accomplishments related to web accessibility. The statement signals their compliance with anti-discrimination laws that they may be compelled to follow. These could include the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring that businesses and organizations treat people with disabilities fairly, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, requiring federal agencies to provide equal access to their electronic information.

What does Digital Equality mean?
Digital Equality means everyone has access to the internet and internet tools regardless of who they are. All individuals have equal opportunity for connecting independently to the social and economic benefits that the Internet offers.

What is website usability?
Website usability is a term describing the ease of use of a particular website or project technology, but particularly to those systems that facilitate the use of new media such as the Internet. Good sites must have a user-friendly design and be accessible for the people using it.

Disability-related

How many people have a disability?
Though estimates vary, most studies find that about one-fifth (20%) of the population has some kind of disability. Not all of these people have disabilities that make it difficult for them to access the internet, but it is still a significant portion of the population.

What are the major disabilities?
The major categories of disability types are:
• Visual – Blindness, low vision, color-blindness
• Hearing- Deafness and hard-of-hearing
• Motor – Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
• Cognitive – Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information

Debunking Myths

Can people with disabilities use computers?
Yes! – This is a common thought, but it is just not true. With the rapid improvement of assistive technology and web development, even groups that were unable to access information historically can now enjoy and participate more fully in digital content and functionality. The global preference for digital options is true for the disability community as well.

Other Questions

Is it only Federal Government websites that need to be accessible?
No – With an increased number of digital accessibility lawsuits being filed, it is not only the government and public organizations that need to worry about the accessibility of their websites. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been interpreted in several plaintiff-favored rulings to apply to websites, including those of private businesses, where they have been designated as places of public accommodation.

People with disabilities do not use our product or service, so do we need to make our website accessible?
Consider this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 25% of US adults (61 million people), and 40% age 65 or older, have a disability. Those are significant numbers, and as the baby boomers continue to age, you can be sure that people with disabilities will be visiting your website.

We use an automated accessibility testing solution, are we compliant?
No – Even the best-automated testing solutions can only catch roughly 25 – 40% of accessibility issues – missing accessibility violations and yield false positives. These tools are useful, but to be fully compliant, a testing methodology needs to incorporate manual testing by a human tester, in addition to the automated solution.

Do I need to understand what digital accessibility is if I am not a developer?
Yes – Every member of an organization should be aware of digital accessibility. Project managers will be better prepared and more accurate if they build accessibility testing into timelines. Designers will create more usable designs from the beginning if they are aware of concepts like color contrast. Content creators will be more qualified to build compelling stories and experiences for everyone if they have an understanding of accessibility and have a plan for multimedia, infographics, and other non-text content. The list goes on, but hopefully, this demonstrates how a business will be more efficient (and compliant) if accessibility is built into the culture — and yes, developers need knowledge inaccessible code solutions, too!

We are planning to update our website in a couple of years, so is making our current site accessible a necessary cost?
This type of questioning comes from believing that retroactively fixing a website for accessibility is only a compliance requirement. However, by providing equal access to information for all people, it makes good business sense because you make your website accessible for all potential clients and demonstrate that you are a socially responsible organization.

Is it true that accessibility helps with search engine optimization (SEO)?
It can – Accessibility techniques increase the findability of web pages by exposing content to search engines. For example, alternative text for images and multimedia, which provides descriptive text for screen reader users, is available to search engines. Most search engines can only access text and not images. In addition, some search engines weigh the headings, used by screen readers to navigate a website, more than regular text.

Why is usability testing by people with disabilities important, if we have tested for accessibility?
An application or website may be designed and coded to meet accessibility standards and may also test adequately for general usability, but it still may not be usable by people with disabilities.

What is the relationship between Usability and Accessibility?
Web accessibility testing is a subset of usability testing where the users under consideration have disabilities that affect how they use the web. The end goal, in both usability and accessibility, is to discover how easily people can use a web site and feed that information back into improving future designs and implementations. Accessibility evaluation is more formalized than usability testing generally. Laws and public opinion frown upon discriminating against people with disabilities. In order to be fair to all, governments and other organizations try to adhere to various web accessibility standards, such as the US federal government’s Section 508 legislation and the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

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