Department of Justice guidance on web accessibility and how to ensure accessibility

Published January 23, 2023

In our digital world, it’s important to account for everyone interacting with web content. People with disabilities navigate the web using tools like screen readers, closed captioning, voice recognition software, and more to facilitate their experience.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has published guidance for state and local governments and businesses to follow in order to ensure web accessibility. The guidance outlines why accessibility matters and parameters required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

It breaks down website accessibility barriers like: 

  • Poor color contrast. 

  • Use of color alone to give information. 

  • Lack of text alternatives (“alt text”) on images. 

  • No captions on videos. 

  • Mouse-only navigation (lack of keyboard navigation).

The DOJ is committed to ensuring and enforcing website accessibility for people with disabilities and so that “the goods, services, programs, and activities that businesses and state and local governments make available to the public are accessible.” 

There are examples of cases where lawsuits have been brought against businesses and entities for inaccessible websites. This heightens the need for businesses to make sure sites are accessible — not only should you create an accessible site to attract customers and clients while doing the right thing, it’s also necessary to avoid costly lawsuits. 

Here’s how you can make your website accessible and barrier free:

  • The ideal contrast is black text on a white background — if you choose to use other colors, avoid the following:

    • Red and green

    • Green and brown

    • Green and blue

    • Blue and gray

    • Blue and purple

    • Green and gray

    • Green and black

  • Avoid relying on color to convey meaning. It’s common to use colors as a means of separating information, but it shouldn’t be the only way you do this. 

  • Give users the opportunity to customize their experience by allowing them the chance to alter the settings. For example, giving the option to increase text size.

  • Add a keyboard navigation option so users with Braille keyboards can navigate your site with ease.

  • When using pictures, graphics, video, audio, or other elements always include Alt Text.

While these are just quick tips and suggestions, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards (this is what the federal government uses for its own websites) provide further detail and resources. 

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