ADA Accessibility Guideline #3: Understandable

Eric Kazda  |   January 31, 2018   |  Posted in Accessibility

Would a visitor to your website who has a disability be able to easily navigate and use all features on your site? If you’re not sure, then it’s vital that you find out. ADA website compliance is not just a good business practice anymore – it’s the law. Today we’re breaking down the third main principle found in these new legal guidelines, understandable.

Get Caught Up on ADA Compliance

As of January 18th, 2018, all new websites and updates to existing websites need to comply with specific legal guidelines on ADA accessibility. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 were created by the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative and are available to view in their entirety here.

If you’re just starting to learn about ADA compliance, get caught up by reading a couple of our previous articles.

Your Overview to ADA Compliance for Websites in 2018

The Importance of ADA Website Compliance [VisionCorps Case Study]

ADA Accessibility Principle #1: Perceivable

ADA Accessibility Principle #2: Operable

The guidelines are broken down by four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Under each principle, there are guidelines that provide specific goals a website should work toward. Under each guideline, there are testable success criteria. Those criteria are graded A, AA, or AAA. This grade shows the level of conformity to accessibility, AAA being the highest. The law only requires A and AA criteria to be met, so we won’t be covering any AAA criteria in this ADA compliance guide.

Today we’re breaking down the third principle within the guidelines – understandable.

Principle #3: Understandable

Defined by WCAG 2.0, this principle states that the “information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.” Not only must a website be easily perceived and operated by a user with a disability, it must also be easy to comprehend the information. This includes elements like making text readable, making web pages predictable, and allowing for more cushion with user error. Read on for the specifics on each of the three guidelines that fall under the understandable principle.

Guideline 3.1: Readable

“Make text content readable and understandable.”

Language is tricky. While one person may process text visually, another may only be able to process auditory text. Is any meaning or context lost when converting text to different forms? This guideline strives to ensure that no matter how text is consumed, it’s simple to understand the meaning and context behind the text.

Examples of readable text on websites:

  • The text is easily read by assistive technology.
  • You use left-justified text for languages that are read left to right, and right-justified text for languages that are read right to left.
  • You don’t use large chunks of text that are bolded or italicized.
  • You use different type of content, like images, video, audio, etc. to clarify the meaning and context of the text.

Guideline 3.2: Predictable

“Make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.”

Imagine you can only process information through a one-dimensional screen reader. Or you have to magnify a web page to 200% to read the content. It would be helpful to know where to expect certain repeating components of a website will be. It’s easier to understand a website if it’s built in a predictable way. Experimental design doesn’t work here.

Examples of a predictable website:

  • Changing the focus of a page doesn’t change the context.
  • Your navigation remains consistent across the entire website.
  • If components of your site have the same functionality, they are labeled consistently on every page they are found.

Guideline 3.3: Input Assistance

“Help users avoid and correct mistakes.”

This guideline wants to reduce the total number of errors a user with a disability makes, ensure they notice when an error has been made, and make sure they know how to fix their error.

Examples of excellent input assistance:

  • An error is identified in multiple ways, like in color and described through text.
  • There are instructions available right away whenever a user field is on the page.
  • When an error is identified, suggestions for correction are provided.
  • On a page where a financial transaction takes place, submissions are reversible, checked for errors, and can be confirmed before finalizing submission.

To Recap

If your website user has a disability, it can be challenging for them to easily understand your content with the unique way they perceive and operate the site. It’s your job to make that content understandable no matter if they’re digesting the content visually, auditory, or some other method. You can do this by making the text readable, making your site predictable, and providing input assistance.

If you have any specific questions about this principle or any of the new ADA guidelines, make sure to reach out to your website developer. You can also leave a comment below or contact us.

Writing in journal with pen and glasses on desk
Is Your Website Accessible to the Blind?

Creating a website accessible to all users is not just important because of a possible lawsuit or government action, but also because you want your business to be available to all potential customers. It’s simply a good business practice and an example of positive customer relations.

Find out if your website meets ADA guidelines.

Contact us now for a FREE consultation!

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Eric Kazda

Eric Kazda is a leading expert in the interactive development industry with over fifteen years of experience. With a mastery of critical development technologies, Eric has crafted innovative award-winning work for clients both large and small. Coupling this knowledge with a real world understanding of usability and technological feasibility, his work is developed to be accessible by every user.

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