NEW! - Compliance Checker

We now have an ADA/WCAG compliance checker built into our CMS. Ask sales for more information.

Is the EvoGov platform ADA compliant?

In many of the requests for proposals (RFPs) that we get for municipal website design, there is a common question about whether or not we can build ADA Compliant websites. The short answer is yes. The above question (is the platform compliant) is the wrong question to ask. You see, once we hand over the keys to your staff to manage your website, they will need specific training to make sure that the content that they enter is ADA compliant. The vast majority of municipal websites, even ones that we have built over the years and those that our competitors have built (no matter what they tell you) are not ADA compliant for various small reasons. On this page, we will show you some of the basics to remain compliant.

Pre-Launch, here are some of the things we will incorporate into your site:

  • We include text resizing widgets for users with eyesight problems.
  • We provide printer friendly pages.
  • We will enter ALT tags on images as we transfer them over.

Why does company ABC says that they are ADA compliant?

Usually this is their salespeople saying this, because they don't understand the requirements.
See the rest of this page for more information.

How do we make sure that our website stays ADA compliant?

This is a better question to ask, because as new content is entered into your website you will need to make sure it is formatted properly, no matter which CMS provider you choose.

Here is a good article on the subject:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/web-designer/creating-an-ada-compliant-website/

Steps to Being Compliant (we address each one!)

From the article link above, we will address of the suggested requirements.

"Every image, video file, audio file, plug-in, etc. has an alt tag"

We will do this with the images that we transfer over. Each time you add a new image to your website, however, you will need to right-click on it, go to “advanced” and enter an alternative title. It is a bit burdensome, and unfortunately most people don’t bother. But that is what is needed to meet this point so that screen readers can function.

"Complex graphics are accompanied by detailed text descriptions"

The practice of using collages and flowchart images is pretty much over. But again, alt text can be added to any image and we will. We don't recommend large collage photos in modern, mobile website design.

"The alt descriptions describe the purpose of the objects"

We will make a best guess as the the purpose of the images in your design and include that in the alt text. But your staff will need to put alternative descriptions on EVERY image that they upload. This is tedious, and unfortuately most people adding content don't do it.

"If an image is also used as a link, make sure the alt tag describes the graphic and the link destination"

We try not to use images as navigation elements because they are not mobile friendly. We instead now use CSS to create menus and action buttons. There are many websites out there that are legacy websites created by our competitors that still have image buttons. And many don't have information on the destination like this suggestion states.

"Decorative graphics with no other function have empty alt descriptions (alt= “")"

This is a bit of an outdated requirement as images for backgrounds and decorative areas could be loaded from CSS, and not have an image within the page code itself. However, for images placed into a page for decorative purposes, we will provide an empty alt tag for the image. Your staff will need to do the same if they add decorative images to a page.

"Add captions to videos"

We don’t produce videos, so this is not applicable to us. However, you can imagine how difficult it would be to put subtitles on all of your council meeting videos. Keep this in mind if you place them into your website. It might be better to link to an outside video resource to remain compliant here. We do offer a video player and an audio player as part of our website platform. Those players do not create subtitles for videos automatically (nothing does that we are aware of).

"Add audio descriptions of videos"

We don’t produce videos, so this is not applicable to us.

"Create text transcript of Videos"

We don’t produce videos, so this is not applicable to us. Can you imagine how difficult this would be to do for every council meeting video?

"Create a link to the video rather than embedding it into web pages"

We will do this, but most of our customers prefer to have their videos embedded into their website.
It is easy to drop a YouTube video into a web page, but this compliance guideline suggests this is a bad idea.

"Add a link to the media player download"

Newer website play videos in the browser, so there is no player. This is an outdated requirement.

"Add an additional link to the text transcript"

We don’t produce video transcripts, so this is not applicable to us. If you wish to supply a written transcript of all of your videos, we can link then for you.

"The page should provide alternative links to the Image Map"

Image maps went out of favor in the 1990s and we do not use them. Image maps were large images that had multiple hotspots on them that you could click for navigation.
The look terrible, are not mobile friendly, and no one really uses them. This is an outdated requirement.

The <area> tags must contain an alt attribute

Same thing. This is related to image maps. We do not use them.

"Data tables have the column and row headers appropriately identified (using the <th> tag)"

It is common to add tables to your website when you want to organize content on a page.
Like this one:

This is a table Header Cell This is another header cell
this is a data cell this is a data cell
this is a data cell this is a data cell

The key is to make sure that tables that have data in them (Data Tables was the key phrase of this requirement) have descriptive header cells at the top of each row if you make these tables.
Because content editors can use tables from time to time, they will need to do this after the site launches.

"Tables used strictly for layout purposes do NOT have header rows or columns"

We do this, but most layouts are handled with DIV tags and not tables.
Typically we see this within legacy content that is being migrated to a new website.

"Table cells are associated with the appropriate headers (e.g. with the id, headers, scope and/or axis HTML attributes)"

This is straightforward – make sure that the cells are under the correct headings.

"Make sure the page does not contain repeatedly flashing images. Check to make sure the page does not contain a strobe effect. "

This is mainly for people with epilepsy, who are sensitive to flashing images. I don't know of any municipal website vendors that use these. We do not do this.

A link is provided to a disability-accessible page where the plug-in can be downloaded

We do not use browser plugins for Java. This is a legacy requirement that isn't valid with today's websites.

All Java applets, scripts and plug-ins (including Acrobat PDF files and PowerPoint files, etc.) and the content within them are accessible to assistive technologies, or else an alternative means of accessing equivalent content is provided."

We don’t use Java applets, and we strongly discourage uploading office documents (word, powerpoint, etc.) into your website. We can’t guarantee that Adobe’s software is compliant, but we can link to it. Using PDF files to eliminate the use of office documents is an acceptable standard here.

"When form controls are text input fields use the LABEL element"

We can do this. It is possible that it can change the look of your forms.

"When text is not available for a form field, use the title attribute"

We do this already. Each form field has a title attribute.

"Include any special instructions within field labels"

This is simply part of form design. However, the "field" label can change the way your forms look.

"Make sure that form fields are in a logical tab order"

This is done automatically. Basically they mean that you can use the tab key on your keyboard to move between form fields.

"Include a ‘Skip Navigation' button to help those using text readers"

This is easy to add to any site as part of the design.

Takeaways:

  1. ADA Compliance is an important part of website design goals.
  2. No single website provider can guarantee 100% compliance, but this should be a goal for all.  ​Beware of lofty salesperson promises.
  3. The CMS Platform is not what makes and keeps your website compliant - it is your staff (after site launch).
  4. Legacy content must undergo a lot of work to make it clean and compliant when it is moved into your new website. This is the largest cost in new site development (content migration).
  5. ADA training should be a part of all website management training.
  6. Providers such as EvoGov (and website owners) will need to be diligent to stay on top of new ADA requirements, as many of the existing ones are outdated.
  7. Embedded videos require subtitles to remain 100% compliant, which kills meeting videos embedded into the site. Streaming might be a better option, and we can recommend solutions for this.