We’ve been hearing, and writing, a lot lately about ADA compliance for websites. We’re so excited this conversation is moving to the forefront of digital design, there’s just one problem:
Compliance is such an ugly word.
Defined as “meeting rules or standards” it connotes a begrudging acceptance—not a wholehearted embrace—which is why I hate the fact that it’s used in relation to disabled populations.
They deserve better.
A few numbers. . .
We get it, this is a new idea and it takes some time to wrap your head around it, especially if nobody in your life (that you know of) is directly affected.
Here is a quick list of people in the US who are affected by disabilities that doesn’t account for users with motor issues, processing delays, cognitive issues, or other disabilities which would impact their ability to use the web.
- 62 million people (19% of total population) have disabilities
- 49.8% of people 75 and older reported living with a disability in 2015
- 25.4% of people 65 to 74
- 16 million (13%) of those 35 to 64
- 4 million (4%) of the US population, and 8% of men, are colorblind (sup, Colten)
- 4 million people (4%) have visual impairment or blindness in the US
- 14.5 to 43.5% (a big range, we know—we’ve seen 5-15%, depending on the study) have dyslexia
What we would love to see
Widespread awareness that serving disabled users online is important.
Better ADA tools. There are some great ones out there, but they can still be quite expensive.
I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve heard “We would love to do that, but it’s just not in our budget.” So, yeah—set aside budgets to address accessibility issues would be ideal.
Lawsuits have been a historically effective tool for driving progress, but they’re also problematic. As we wrote in a previous post, ADA laws exist, but they have no teeth. They also vary widely by location. WCAG is a standard which the web community has agreed upon.