When it comes to accommodating people with disabilities, what comes to mind?
In the context of the multifamily industry, you might think of ramps, designated parking spaces, braille on signs, and automatic doors.
But what about websites?
Ensuring that your apartment website is ADA compliant means that everyone, regardless of ability, can access the information on your site.
Here’s what you need to know to ensure your website is compliant.
Background on ADA Website Compliance
The ADA does not specifically mention websites. But according to the U.S. Department of Justice, many websites can be considered “places of public accommodation,” despite not having a physical presence. So, they must be just as accessible to those with disabilities as a brick-and-mortar business, such as an apartment community, according to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, are the most widely used set of accessibility standards for web content.
First published in 2008, the WCAG standards define how to make web content more accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities, including auditory, visual, speech, cognitive, learning, language, physical, and neurological disabilities.
In June 2018, WCAG was updated. WCAG 2.1 standards include guidelines on improving web accessibility on mobile devices, as well as for people with low vision and cognitive disabilities.
Disabilities are on the rise
Equal access becomes even more urgent when considering that a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 25 percent of American adults, or one in four — a total of about 61 million people — have a disability. Earlier studies had this figure at about 20 percent.
Accessibility can be achieved when website content is developed so that those with disabilities can fully interact with it.
What can you do?
The need for an accessible web presence is only going to become more and more important for apartment marketing as time goes on. In order to test your apartment website’s accessibility, you can turn to an evaluation tool or service that can help you determine if your content meets the guidelines.
For example, the Bureau of Internet Accessibility has a free graded report of how your website holds up against WCAG standards.
Another action you can take is ensuring that any features you add to your website are also accessible. The Respage Chatbot is a 24/7 tool that can answer prospective renters’ questions about a particular apartment community, and as of May 1, it’s fully conformant with WCAG 2.1 standards. The code is written so that the apartment chatbot is navigable by keyboard using screen reader software. Read our full press release.
Improving accessibility is an ongoing job. If you have specific accessibility requirements to discuss, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.