Is Your Site Accessible to All?
Over the past few years, you have no doubt heard about ADA regulations and how they apply to websites in this digital age. News of predatory and class action lawsuits rattled the industry into taking a close look at how their websites hold up against the stated guidelines and there was a rush to put monitoring and remediation plans into practice.
Several years later, we have many robust tools available at our fingertips to help relieve some of the stress and burden of manual scanning and remediation, and open the door for website accessibility to be, well, accessible to more businesses!
So, What is Web Accessibility?
Before we discuss how to bring your site into compliance, let’s talk about what web accessibility looks like. Web accessibility is a set of rules, behaviors, code standards, and design guidelines that are meant to allow people with disabilities, which comprise 20% of the world’s population, to effectively use websites.
To achieve this, the W3C has created the “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” 2.1 (WCAG 2.1), which are meant to explain and guide developers on how to make websites accessible. These guidelines have been adopted by governments around the world and are now a part of various legislations, such as the ADA, Section 508, EN 301549, and others.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are driven by four principles. These principles state that content on your website must be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR). The WCAG website describes these principles as:
- Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all their senses).
- Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable. This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform).
- Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable. This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding).
- Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible).
When websites don’t follow these principles, those with disabilities aren’t able to use those sites.
How Does PMD Achieve Compliance?
PMD utilizes two components that work together to achieve compliance. The first is our accessibility interface that runs in the foreground and is responsible for 30% of the requirements. These requirements are mostly user-interface and design-related. The second is our background application (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning powered), which is responsible for the remaining 70% of requirements, mostly related to screen-reader adjustments, and keyboard navigation optimizations for those with motor impairments.
The Foreground Application
Our foreground application handles the UI (user interface) and design accessibility requirements, allowing persons with specific disabilities to adjust the website’s UI and design to their individual needs. Our solution replaces the old-fashioned method of compromising your site’s design in favor of accessibility.
Here are some of our interface’s capabilities:
- Font Handling – users can increase and decrease font size, change its family (type), adjust the spacing, alignment, line height, and more.
- Color Handling – users can select various color contrast profiles such as light, dark, inverted, and monochrome. Additionally, users can swap color schemes of titles, texts, and backgrounds, with over 7 different color options.
- Animations – users with epilepsy can stop all running animations at the click of a button. This includes videos, GIFs, and CSS flashing transitions.
- Content Highlighting – users can emphasize important elements, such as links and titles. They can also highlight particular focused or hovered elements.
- Audio Muting – users with hearing devices may experience headaches or other issues due to automatic audio playing. This option allows users to mute the entire website instantly.
- Cognitive Disorders – we utilize a search engine that is linked to Wikipedia and Wiktionary, allowing people with cognitive disorders to decipher meanings of phrases, initials, slang, and more.
- Other Options – users can change the cursor’s color and sizing, view in printing mode, enable a virtual keyboard, and much more.
The Background Application
Our Artificial Intelligence (AI) runs in the background and optimizes the accessibility level of your website every 24 hours. This AI engine remediates the website’s HTML accessibility issues, as well as functionality and behavior.
Our AI analyzes your website’s components top to bottom, thereby providing screen-readers with meaningful data, using the ARIA set of attributes. For example, it provides accurate form labels; descriptions for actionable icons (social media icons, search icons, cart icons, etc.); validation guidance for form inputs; element roles such as buttons, menus, model dialogues (pop-ups), and more.
Additionally, our AI scans the website’s images and provides an accurate, meaningful image-object-recognition-based description as an ALT (Alternate Text) tag. It also extracts texts that are embedded within the image, using an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology.
Keyboard Navigation Optimization
Additionally, keyboard users will find quick-navigation and content-skip menus available at any time by clicking Alt+1. Our AI also handles triggered popups by relocating the keyboard focus onto them as soon as they appear, without letting the focus deviate below the popup, for best orientation.
The Fine Print
PMD’s automated service has only a few exceptions. Remediation of PDFs, documents, and multimedia (video/audio subtitles) is priced separately, as those are not a part of your codebase.
Lastly, if your website has an element that is very unique and does not exist almost anywhere else, such as a quiz, game, ticketing section, map, builder feature or any other rare component, PMD may not be able to fix it, because AI and machine learning technologies depend on a high number of encounters and data to be accurate.
PMD’s tool will not change a thing for most users. The AI tool will only be activated when turned on via the interface (or by a screen-reader), as an overlay to your website, and only for the user’s specific session. Therefore, PMD won’t affect your design, UI, or performance at all. The entire process is automated from remediation to compliance. Additionally, we don’t collect user data, so we don’t affect your GDPR compliance.
How Does the PMD Accessibility Tool Stack Up to the Competition?
There are many tools out there that handle ADA compliance with a tool like PMD’s. How does our stack up?
UserWay offers a free overlay for websites that provides around 20% of the needed compliance according to the WCAG. It simply does not address elements like Alt tags or ARIA labels or assistive technology compatibility. Our tool addresses everything.
User1st helps businesses and website owners make their sites accessible through auditing and manual remediation only. They do not, to our knowledge, offer any kind of AI tool, but they do have accessibility experts who can advise businesses, provide training programs, and even perform manual remediation, at a cost reflecting the time and effort needed for all of this. Our tool remediates everything immediately and automatically, for a fee far less than User1st.
Equalweb has a free tool, similar to UserWay, that makes visual changes for some disabilities. That sort of thing generally only provides around 20% of the needed compliance. They also provide full-on accessibility consultation and remediation, which involves human developers working on your website and auditing your code. The cost is exceedingly higher than our solution. They also charge for phone support with lower plans, whereas we are available by phone or email during normal business hours.
AudioEye – Probably our biggest competitor since they do similar work. One key difference is their pricing which is based on page views, whereas ours is based on indexed pages. This can make a big difference, particularly considering the difference in price itself. AudioEye does claim to provide the same level of compliance that we do, but they do not claim to do so in the same time frame nor provide the same level of customer service since they only offer email support.
Ready to get started?
Once you’re ready to bring your site into compliance, we can implement our ADA tool and have you up and running in less than 72 business hours. We’re ready when you are.