"ADA Website Development Guidelines"
Given the fact that nearly twenty percent of people living in the United States have a disability, it is not surprising that the government of the United States of America has laid down the Americans with Disabilities Act, popularly known as ADA in the year 1990. According to this law, discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to employment, government services and programs, goods and services provided by private businesses as well as use of commercial facilities is prohibited. With the advent of technology, the ADA affects the cyber world as well, which means that websites created by various businesses should adhere to the basic guidelines mentioned in the ADA, so that they are accessible to all, including those who have different disabilities. It is pertinent to note that people with disabilities often use what is called assistive technology to access websites, read their content and use the same, where required. Assistive technology means and includes technology that helps a person with disability to easily access your website and this could be in the form of a screen reader for the blind or voice recognition software for those who cannot use the mouse nimbly. Following are some simple steps, which if implemented, will definitely help you in designing a completely accessible website: Providing alternatives for visual as well as auditory material will help in ensuring that both blind as well as deaf people can easily access your website without missing anything. For example, graphics, though attractive, will not translate immediately into text and therefore requires some text input explaining the graphic so that it can be easily understood by the visually impaired. Using HTML rather than images, and the extensive use of tags as well as markup and style sheets will help in navigation for all. Giving titles to your frames and describing them in detail along with their relationship with one another will help in easy navigation. Navigation mechanisms should be clear and well defined so that the user has no problem. It is essential that you use tables to gather and put together information instead of using it for decorative purposes. In other words, data should be such that you can actually read it without getting it mixed up with the tabular form. In case this is not possible, you should provide a summary of the table, especially in cases where you are dealing with numerical data. When working with newer technologies, it is important that the older versions are still operative. In other words, if you are working with a newer version of the browser, it is important to allow the older version to easily move into the newer one by giving the user the option to turn on or off the additional options. Accessibility should be provided to embedded applications like plug-ins, applets etc in a similar manner. It is essential that you allow the user to turn off any animation, which may have place there to attract the attention of any visitor. It is imperative that you create your website in such a way that it does not depend on any particular device for accessibility. In other words, if you have maps on your website, then you can ensure that the website is not dependent on the usage of a mouse by adding text links. Lastly, it is important that you use simple, clear and concise language in creating your website, without any inexplicable or hard-to-understand jargon. For more information on US Department of Justice ADA specifics visit the ADA homepage.