Put simply, 508, ADA and WCAG are standards of accessibility for websites that help designers and developers create products that accommodate the needs of users who may be blind, deaf or have some other limitation.
MESH’s Proposal Verbiage
MESH cannot guarantee full 508/ADA or WCAG compliance on websites or applications within the current scope of work. Should compliance with specific guidelines be required in addition to the current scope of work, MESH will provide a new estimate to include consultation with compliance experts and necessary development partners.
Questions to Ask Clients/Developers
- Which guidelines are you interested in adhering to: 508/ADA or WCAG?
- What conformance level do you need to meet? (Level A, Level AA, Level AAA)
- Do you have any additional special accessibility requirements?
- Do you have any international accessibility requirements that you need to follow?
- What kind of assessment reporting do you need – a report that is automatically generated by a compliance checker or a manually-written report?
- Who would you like to remediate issues that the assessment report found – you, the developer, or a combination?
- Do you need a certificate or statement verifying compliance?
- Do you require training in how to maintain an ADA-compliant website after it is launched?
Section 508 is limited to those in the federal sector and doesn’t apply to the private sector. Federal agencies include:
- Government agencies
- Federally-funded non-profits
- Public higher education institutions
- Public K-12 schools
Large companies part of the federally-funded industry and private businesses can voluntarily be compliant. However, there is nothing in Section 508 that requires private websites to comply with their regulations unless they are receiving federal funds or are under contract with a federal agency.
When it comes to ADA, all private and public entities that are considered “public accommodations” are required to comply with ADA’s regulations. This includes (but not limited to):
- Inns, hotels, motels
- Restaurants, bars
- Bakeries, groceries
- Accountants, law offices
- Healthcare providers
- Public transportation
- Social service centers
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
Because WCAG is only a set of guidelines (that many organizations and entities have agreed on), WCAG itself doesn’t have any official legal power to require compliance. However, many countries have adopted WCAG’s standards and required all websites to comply with them (e.g., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia), and other countries only require WCAG-compliance for only governmental websites. In general, it is recommended that any business with an online presence should provide accessibility to disabled users.
- Level A (minimum) – the most basic web accessibility features. The website MUST satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for some groups to be able to use web documents.
- Level AA (mid-range) – deals with the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users. Website SHOULD satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to accessing Web documents.
- Level AAA (highest) – the highest level of web accessibility. A website MAY address this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it somewhat difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access to web documents.