Michael Hingson, a national ambassador for the Brail Literacy Campaign and chief vision officer at accessiBe, discusses the importance of having an accessible and ADA-compliant website. He clarifies that he believes if you create a website that is not accessible to people who have disabilities, it is discrimination. He goes on to discuss the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law on July 26th, 1990.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services.
The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that provide general guidance about how the law should be interpreted:
ADA Title I: Employment
ADA Title II: Public Entities
ADA Title III: Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities
ADA Title IV: Telecommunications
ADA Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions (includes a provision that requires the Attorney General to enforce title II through suits for damages, injunctions, or other relief).
Michael Hingson states that the ADA was a huge step forward for society, but it’s not complete – especially when it comes to online accessibility – because 380 websites are created every minute. He says he has no idea how graphic designers keep up, but he knows it’s not working because 60% of the people with disabilities are unemployed. He believes that if websites want to keep up, they need to use tools like accessiBe, which lets everyone (with or without disabilities) contribute back to the web accessibility movement.
To use Michael Hingson’s exact words: “If you don’t have accessible websites, then you are discriminating against people with disabilities. This is not just our fight; you can’t sit back and say, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ The ADA was a huge step forward for society, but it’s not complete because 380 websites are created every minute. That’s an enormous amount of content that, by and large, is not ADA compliant. We need a scalable solution, and the only way to do that is with AI.”
Hingson went on to say, “If there were one message I’d like to share, it is that you are preventing access to people with disabilities if your site isn’t ADA compliant. It’s not enough to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to design this for the general population because the general population includes folks who have disabilities.”
Hingson states that some of the biggest barriers for people with disabilities regarding the internet are taking 20 seconds to load, being full of flashing distracting images, not offering captions for videos & podcasts, having information hidden away, requiring you to do extra work to find it. He also states that if people with disabilities can’t access your website or app, they can’t use it and need an alternative solution. accessiBe allows people with disabilities to search a website and mark it as accessible or not. In addition, if a website is not ADA compliant, accessiBe will provide suggestions on how the site can become more compliant, making it easier for everyone to use while simultaneously expanding accessibility, so people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in society.