Want To Take Your ADA Rating From Single-A To Triple-A?
In a digital world, accessibility is not just a nice-to-have. It’s a legal and ethical obligation. Local governments exist to serve their communities, and just as the courthouse entrance must be accessible for those with disabilities, so should the city’s website and all digital content.
This has led to the development of guidelines and standards for digital accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. These guidelines not only ensure inclusivity, but also come with legal ramifications for organizations that don’t comply.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the most well-known and comprehensive set of guidelines for ADA optimization. They provide a framework for creating accessible websites and digital content, and provide ratings ranging from Single-A to Triple-A based on adherence to the guidelines, with Triple-A being considered the gold standard in website accessibility.
If you want to boost your government’s rating, it’s important to understand how the ratings work, how to apply WCAG’s “POUR” accessibility principles, and how ClearGov helps you achieve ADA-optimization automatically.
The Importance Of ADA Ratings In Local Government
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all services, programs, and activities of state and local governments.”
Local governments provide essential information to their communities, such as financial documents, strategic plans, and public announcements that are shared through various digital channels. Additionally, many governments have moved most of their paper and in-person services online, such as the ability to apply for permits and licenses, register for school, and pay traffic fines.
An inaccessible website can limit people with disabilities from accessing services and information provided by their government.
This is why a local government’s ADA rating is so important. Meeting or exceeding their guidelines not only protects you against legal action, but it also demonstrates a government’s commitment to equity and inclusiveness to all community members.
Start Here: WCAG’s “POUR” Accessibility Principles
Before we jump into the ratings, let’s take a look at WCAG’s POUR accessibility principles. The more principles your website or digital content checks the box on, the higher your rating will be.
Within each category of the POUR principles, there are more in-depth guidelines and specific examples that can be found here.
WCAG POUR principles state that an accessible website should be:
Perceivable: Users should be able to perceive digital information without any challenges. In online spaces, the two main senses are sight and hearing, but touch is also applicable where haptic tools are used. This includes providing alternatives for non-text content, ensuring proper color contrast, and offering audio descriptions for multimedia content.
Operable: Ensure that user interface components and navigation are simple to operate. This involves being able to access the content using a keyboard and other modalities, avoiding content that causes seizures, and providing clear and consistent navigation.
Understandable: Design content that is understandable to diverse users. This includes using clear and simple language, providing predictable navigation, and offering error prevention and correction features.
Robust: Develop content that is robust and compatible with current and future technologies. This means using semantic markup, implementing proper coding practices, unique ID attributes, and considering the longevity of accessibility features.
Understanding ADA optimization Ratings
The Single-A level of ADA optimization means an organization is meeting the minimum requirements for accessibility.
It ensures that digital content is perceivable and operable by individuals with disabilities. This includes features like providing alternative text for images, using sufficient color contrast, and ensuring basic navigation is usable with assistive technologies.
At this level, content is more accessible, but additional improvements are needed to provide a seamless experience for all users.
Moving up the accessibility ladder, the Double-A rating is considered the acceptable standard for accessibility.
Websites and digital content at this level are designed to work with a wide range of assistive technologies. This includes screen readers, voice recognition software, and more, so that the content is accessible to users with various disabilities.
Digital content with a Double-A rating will have features like resizable text, adaptable content presentation, and captions for multimedia content.
This level signifies a commitment to inclusivity and the diverse needs of users.
A Triple-A rating is the gold standard of accessibility.
Websites and digital content that achieve Triple-A optimization not only meet the foundational accessibility requirements, but also excel in providing an exceptional user experience.
Triple-A rated websites go above and beyond to enhance accessibility, including features such as sign language interpretations for audio content, advanced keyboard navigation, and compatibility with a wider range of assistive technologies.
Achieving a Triple-A rating demonstrates an organization’s commitment to creating an accessible and welcoming digital environment for all users.
Setting New Organizational Standards For Digital Accessibility
As technology continues to evolve, so do the expectations for digital accessibility. Achieving a Triple-A rating requires local governments to establish new standards that prioritize accessibility from the initial design stages. It involves collaboration between developers, designers, content creators, and accessibility experts to ensure that every aspect of the digital experience is inclusive and usable.
ClearGov: Paving The Way To Optimization
Making complex information accessible and easy to understand is core to ClearGov’s mission.
Our Transparency profiles, Digital Budget Book sites, and the public-facing aspects of our newest solutions, ClearForms and ClearPlans, are ADA-optimized and designed to communicate data in a way that makes sense to everyone.
By doing the legwork and ensuring the forward-facing aspects of our solutions are automatically ADA-optimized, local governments looking for a way to communicate financials, demographics, strategic plans, capital projects, and more online have a truly turnkey, ADA-friendly solution with ClearGov.
Schedule a demo to learn how ClearGov can help make your local government’s online presence more accessible and welcoming to all.