What is ADA Compliance and How Do I Make My Documents Conform to its Standards? Adam Spencer Explains
Inclusivity in all realms is becoming increasingly important, but especially so as it pertains to the internet, as the internet is something that nearly everyone uses. That is why there has been a growing call among companies and even governments all over the world to make ADA compliance a legal requirement, especially as it pertains to online documents and websites.
Adam Spencer is the CEO of AbleDocs, a company that is leading the industry in the creation of document accessibility for people with disabilities. Spencer and his company are based in Oakville, Ontario, and are dedicated to making the internet a more accessible and inclusive environment. Mr. Spencer explains what exactly ADA compliance is as well as how businesses and individuals can make their documents conform to ADA standards.
What is ADA Compliance?
Before diving into how documents can be altered to conform to ADA compliance standards, it’s important to understand what ADA compliance means. According to Adam Spencer, the CEO of AbleDocs, ADA stands for the Americans for Disabilities Act, and ADA compliance regarding online documents specifically refers to the standards set by the Act that fall within the realm of accessible design. What this essentially means is that all electronic and information technology (such as websites or online documents) must be accessible to people with disabilities. An example of this is ensuring the document is screen-reader friendly, so that people who are visually impaired can still understand the document.
Adam Spencer notes that currently, not all businesses are required to have websites that are ADA compliant; however, the trend is moving in this direction, as companies realize that having a website accessible to everyone is not only the right thing to do, but a smart business decision. Currently, the only organizations that are required by law to adhere to ADA standards in the United States are private employers who have 15 employees or more, businesses that operate specifically for the purposes of the public, and state and local government agencies.
Why is ADA Compliance Important?
As the world strives to be a more inclusive place, businesses are starting to realize the necessity of ADA compliance as it pertains to their websites and electronic documents. In many situations, it can be extremely difficult if not impossible for a person with disabilities, such as someone who is visually or hearing impaired, to access documents that do not conform to ADA standards. Adobe PDFs and Microsoft Word documents are two examples of non-compliant document types, and yet they continue to be widely used.
According to Adam Spencer, the key with ADA compliance is creating a document or website that is screen reader friendly. For those that don’t know, screen reader software is a type of technology that reads what is displayed on a screen out loud to the user. For those who have visual or motor impairments, this piece of technology is often integral to them being able to use the computer. Another example is captioning as Spencer notes how you will often notice on television or when viewing other multimedia resources, there is a captioned option somewhere in the menu. This is a necessity for those who are hearing impaired as they may not be able to lip read, see speakers are off screen, or hear audio cues. Making documents screen reader friendly and videos captioned are just two examples that show the vital role ADA compliance plays to people with disabilities.
How Can You Conform Documents to ADA Standards?
Adam Spencer of Oakville, Ontario shares that adhering to ADA compliance standards when creating documents, websites, or videos, is actually easier than one might think. Users can even continue using programs like Adobe and Microsoft Word to create their documents, they just have to use the right tools, like axesWord from AbleDocs. For example, Microsoft actually provides an option for all of their file formats, including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to be published as accessible documents, but don’t create fully compliant files. That is where AbleDocs comes in.
Adam Spencer states that the best and easiest way to make PDFs accessible is to use the right tools to create the tags in the first place. An entire PDF must be tagged for it to be considered accessible. This includes all headers, text, tables, and images. Spencer also encourages users to take advantage of AbleDocs’ industry leading tools and strategies which will take the user through a list of actions that must be completed in order for the document to meet accessibility standards.