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What and Why: Accessibility Testing

Key Takeaways

  1. Accessibility testing ensures people with disabilities have access to software, websites and other digital content.
  2. Testing accessibility can be done manually, automated, or hybrid form.
  3. Automation is the ideal choice. It is less time consuming, cost-efficient, and ensures compliance.
  4. There are different ways of testing accessibility depending on the disability, such as vision, hearing, mobility, and cognition.

What and why: Accessibility testing

Accessibility Testing is software testing that ensures websites and applications can be used by as many people as possible, including those with disabilities such as vision impairment, hearing disabilities, physical and cognitive conditions, and other disadvantaged groups.

Why is Accessibility testing a necessity?

The primary purpose of accessibility testing is to ensure people with disabilities can enjoy access to software, websites, and assistive technology.

It is also the law. Accessibility testing intends to understand if digital content meets the needs of people with disabilities through established accessibility standards:

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to increase a website’s user-friendliness.
  • Section 504 & Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act for equal access to opportunities, services, and technology.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) strongly prohibits discrimination.

 Failure to do so could result in hefty fines and expensive lawsuits.

How is Accessibility testing done?

Testing accessibility is done manually, can be automated, or a hybrid of both. These general testing approaches are primarily used

There are also different ways of testing accessibility depending on the disability:

Automate Everything

The optimum accessibility testing solution is entirely automated. Automated accessibility testing evaluates your documents, web pages, or multiple websites simultaneously for accessibility issues. Not only is it time and cost-efficient, but it is also essential to ensure compliance with accessibility standards and avoid penalties.

It may be impossible to test everything automatically. Still, automation is the ideal choice. Here’s why:

Sample Test Cases Accessibility Testing

You can follow WCAG compliance standards by using this summarized checklist of what accessibility testing consists of regarding textual content, design, development of the website, and access tools:

Conclusion

Accessibility testing aims to assess if your digital tools are easy-to-navigate, is accessible, and is easy to understand. While it benefits everyone, it is especially helpful to people with disabilities. That is why using it in your testing access strategies is important, not as a consideration- it should be a priority.

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Understanding WCAG Compliance: Levels A, AA, and AAA

Key Takeaways

  1. WCAG 2.1 consists of three compliance levels: A, AA, and AAA.
  2. WCAG provides guidelines for what an accessible website should accomplish at each level, from minimal, acceptable, to ideal accessibility.
  3. The conformance levels are based on the four principles of WCAG known as POUR: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
  4. Level A is the minimum conformance level, Level AA is the mid-range conformance that is widely accepted, and Level AAA is the highest.

Understanding WCAG Compliance: Levels A, AA, and AAA

Accessibility compliance paves the way for a future with universal access for all. It is an ethical investment that benefits everyone, especially those with disabilities. The goal is to create high-quality websites that do not exclude a particular group. But how do you determine what makes your content web accessible? The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG version 2.1, has set international standards for web accessibility to meet the needs of individuals and organizations. This blog post answers your questions about different WCAG compliance levels: A, AA, and AAA.

What are the Levels of WCAG compliance?

The latest version, WCAG 2.1, consists of three compliance levels: A, AA, and AAA. Each level includes guidelines that aim for web accessibility for different groups of users depending on their specific needs.

Level A: The minimum conformance level with basic guidelines for an accessible website.
Level AA: The mid-range conformance level includes Level A and additional guidelines. Most organizations try to attain this level.
Level AAA: It is the highest level that includes Level A, AA, and AAA guidelines.

Let’s take a look at each of the WCAG compliance levels.

WCAG 2.0 Level A

Level A is the minimum conformance level where websites must follow all the Level A success criteria. The success criteria are easy to achieve with the least impact on the website structure. At this conformance level, web content will still have some accessibility barriers. Accessing its information will be challenging or impossible for many users with impairments. Some of the basic requirements are as follows:

WCAG 2.0 Level AA

Level AA conformance defines a higher level of accessibility. Most accessibility laws and regulations, including the ADA, apply to this level.If a website is used and understood by most users with or without disabilities and meets Level A and Level AA success criteria, it is considered to have WCAG 2.1 Level AA accessibility.

Following these criteria will eliminate significant barriers to accessing web content. However, access to information may be a problem for some users. The WCAG 2.1 Level AA criteria include the following:

WCAG Level AAA

A website must meet Level A, Level AA and Level AAA criteria to reach this highest level of conformance. Achieving this level makes your website accessible to most users. It improves the user experience for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. But Level AAA compliance is not easy to achieve for all content. While this is the optimum level of conformance for full web accessibility, the W3 does not recommend it as a general rule, as specific content cannot meet all Level AAA compliance requirements. Some notable Level AAA web accessibility requirements include:

Conclusion

While these guidelines seem intimidating, understanding the different WCAG conformance levels can help make your digital content more accessible to your audience, improve your online presence, and prevent lawsuits.

Explore what web accessibility could look like for you with PREP. Our combination of automation, advanced artificial intelligence (AI), and other innovative deep learning technologies make digital accessibility simple, accurate, and fast. Meet the latest WCAG standards, Section 508, and ADA compliance with high-quality checks by PREP’s accessibility experts. Plus, our human-centric design makes it easy to onboard new users.

Are you looking for affordable and scalable accessibility services? Talk to us today!

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ADA Compliance in the Workplace

Key Takeaways

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in the workplace is necessary for an inclusive work environment.
  2. Building toward an accessible and ADA-compliant workplace includes:
    • Evaluating your physical and digital space Consistently improving digital accessibility
    • Offering accessibility tools
    • Following WCAG 2.1 as a standard for web accessibility.
  3. Digital accessibility is required for employees and potential job seekers.

A Quick Look at ADA Compliance in the Workplace

To create a discrimination-free environment for employees and customers, accessibility in the workplace has become a requirement from every stance. According to the CDC, around 26 percent of adults in the U.S live with a disability. People with disabilities are guaranteed equal opportunity and accessibility through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which includes state and local government services, employment, and even public digital communication like websites and applications. While ADA requirements have existed for two decades, employment rates for people with disabilities are still low.
Building an ADA-compliant workplace can be challenging, especially when many employers are still unclear on how to comply with strict requirements. This article discusses how to start working on ADA compliance in the workplace:

Define the Evaluation Scope

Start with an initial evaluation of your workplace by drawing up components that you can measure accessibility. The assessment can help you identify the currently available accessibility features and potential issues to determine where you need to improve to ensure ADA compliance in the workplace.
    • Physical Workplace
  Older infrastructural styles can be barriers to people with disabilities. Analyze your surroundings for obstacles that can hinder disabled people in doing their jobs. Your evaluation scope should include:
      • Parking spaces
      • Entryways
      • Doorways and hallways
      • Elevators
      • Office spaces
      • Restrooms
      • Signage
    • Digital Workplace
Modern spaces depend on technology. So, your digital workplace should be accessible too. Evaluating your digital communication and internal tools can help you identify where you lack web accessibility, such as in:
      • Software
      • Operating systems
      • Telecommunication
      • Multimedia products
      • Electronics
      • Presence of assistive technologies such as screen readers, keyboard navigation, and more.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act oversees accessibility by government organizations,and it is also applied to private companies. Businesses that comply with ADA requirements in the workplace also avoid legal trouble.

Improve Digital Accessibility

Most websites, PDFs & documents, and applications are created without accessibility. Lack of accessibility means additional steps must be taken to make the content accessible to all. As a business, you must ensure that your digital resources are up-to-date and accessible to current and potential employees. Employers must ensure that people with disabilities can apply for jobs and get information about salary, benefits, and other information on their websites. You can also increase digital accessibility by providing simple site navigation, text transcripts for video content, and alt tags for visual and audio files, among other options.

Provide Accessibility Tools

Along with assistive technology, accessibility tools also significantly promote ADA compliance in the workplace. It helps people with disabilities access and use websites, documents, applications, and other digital content like everyone else. These tools may be standalone products with built-in assistive technology or plug-ins such as screen readers and text readers, live call transcription and closed captioning, and Microsoft 10. Accessibility tools can also benefit others, especially those with temporary disabilities, slow Internet connections or bandwidth, and even older users. As an organization, your responsibility is to provide your employees with the best tools to help them perform their daily duties at the workplace; this can improve employee retention.

Follow the Web Content Accessibility Rules

Understanding that digital accessibility benefits your employees and consumers is crucial for your business. Your digital content must meet the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). To ensure all web content is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, the WCAG is a set of guidelines that overlooks the technical requirements for accessibility. Familiarizing yourself with these guidelines can make it easier to review your online resources for accessibility barriers. You can also choose accessibility experts who can evaluate your digital workplace to ensure they are consistent with WCAG 2.1 and ADA compliance. Not complying with the WCAG can incur discrimination lawsuits, hefty fines, and a negative public image.

Final Thoughts

  1. ADA compliance in the workplace strives to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities by creating an inclusive work environment.
  2. First, define the evaluation scope of your physical and digital workspace to identify barriers and potential issues to work on remediation.
  3. Ensure your digital resources, such as websites, documents, job listings, and other information, are accessible to disabled employees and prospects.
  4. Providing your employees with accessibility tools can help them perform their duties at the workplace.
  5. Following the latest WCAG version is beneficial to employees and customers.

  6. As a business, it is essential to understand the significance of accessibility. Improving ADA compliance in the workplace, though initially challenging, is a step towards creating an inclusive work environment. And it benefits everyone – your company, employees, and customers.
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What is VPAT? A Guide to Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates

What is VPAT?

The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template is known as VPAT. It is a document that details a thorough examination of how well a company and its product comply with the accessibility standards of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. A VPAT can be thought of as a straightforward public declaration of a company’s product conformity. A VPAT is a tool for illuminating the numerous intricacies of a product that affect its overall degree of accessibility compliance by offering as much detail and clarity as feasible. Understanding accessibility standards and whom they apply to, are some crucial factors in understanding VPATs, their function, and which firms need to use one.

What is the Purpose of VPAT?

A VPAT is designed to assist Information and Communication Technology (ICT) customers in making wise selections when buying a product in the following ways:
  • Recognize the degree of accessibility compliance with a product. Compare the conformity of related products.
  • Select a solution that best satisfies the organization’s functional and legal requirements as well as accessibility guidelines.
  • When an accessible product is not available, make plans for access that is just as effective.

Is VPAT Mandatory?

Government organizations are required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to make ICT accessible to individuals with impairments. The CSU is subject to Section 508 in the State of California. To make ICT accessible to staff, students, and the larger campus community, the CSU and SSU have regulations and procedures in place. The accessible procurement procedure includes a step where the VPAT of a product is obtained and examined. Thus, the creation or provision of a VPAT is optional for vendors. If you are thinking of not opting for VAPT, you may do so.

What are the Section 508 and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?

Federal agencies must create, obtain, utilize, and maintain information and communications technology that is accessible to people with disabilities in accordance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Section 508 not only directly affects federal agencies. Private organizations that want to work with the government or receive government funds must also demonstrate compliance with the law. This means that, like a government agency, these businesses must provide accessible compliance information in a VPAT. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have now been accepted by many states and local governments in place of the federally mandated Section 508 criteria, going beyond what is required by law. The necessity for an up-to-date VPAT that assesses the organization’s compliance with either Section 508 or WCAG, depending on the kind of agency, should be anticipated by your organization if you wish to do business with any government in the United States or agencies that may serve those governments.

Not Mandatory but Strongly Recommended

VPAT helps organizations identify and address potential accessibility barriers so that their products and services can be used by people with disabilities. VPAT is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended if your company want to ensure that your products are accessible to everyone.
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Alt Text on Images: What It Is and How to Write It?

Images in a blog post, website or social media platform enhance a reader’s visual experience. They provide us with an excellent content experience and make it easier for them to relate to your content better. But simply adding an image is not enough. You need to add an alt text to make it accessible to every individual, regardless of their abilities.

What is an Alt Text?

Alt text, also known as an alternative text/alt tag/alt description, on an image is a written copy that describes the appearance and the purpose of the image in words. It is the first thing a developer and designer should remember when discussing accessibility. This element must be included in every image of a website or document so screen readers can accurately dictate the image description to people using the technology. A screen reader or other assistive technology cannot read elements that do not have text. So, if you do not add a description of the image, these technologies cannot read it. This leaves the user with incomplete information and makes your document/website inaccessible to everyone.

Why is an Alt Text Important?

There are several reasons why an alt text is necessary for every non-textual element you add to your document or website. Here are some of the three reasons that make them crucial addition:
  1. Accessibility:
    An alt text can improve your content or website’s accessibility when written well. As mentioned earlier, screen readers cannot translate any non-textual content and convey it to their users. An alt text can assist this kind of technology in helping users understand the information and purpose being served by the image. This allows the image content to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. People with sensory processing and learning disabilities can benefit greatly from an alt text as their assistive technology can help them process what the image wants to convey. Besides, people who voluntarily turn off the automatic image loading option on their browser to save data can also understand what the image has to say and what it is contributing to the document/website.
  2. SEO Purpose
    If you run a business website, you might already know the importance of conducting good search engine optimization (SEO) to reach a maximum audience by ranking on the first page of a search engine. In fact, a survey suggested that more than 2.4 million searches happen every minute on Google, making it essential to make your content more SEO-friendly to reach your relevant public. When integrated with best SEO practices, meaningful and accessible-to-all content makes a website rank well on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). An alt text adds semantic meaning to an image so that search engines get better and more accurate information, making your website rank higher.
  3. Visitor Experience
    Apart from having accessible and fully optimized content for the search engine, your website must also provide an excellent visitor experience. People who visit your website expect to access every information mentioned, but individuals won’t be able to see the image if they fail to load. When such mishaps happen, an alt text ensures your audience has the information an image wants to convey so that they can relate to it more.

How to Write a Meaningful Alt Text

Now that you know the importance of an alt text, it’s time to craft one that serves its purpose. Here are six tips for writing an alt description that is meaningful, informational and clear.
  1. Be Precise Describe what you see. Don’t become too editorial when writing an alt text because you have to think from the viewer’s point of view and understand how they will interpret the image. Avoid making assumptions regarding the individual’s race, ethnicity or gender or what’s happening outside the image. This is only going to add more confusion. Instead, be descriptive, as if you are talking to the reader on the phone and explaining what’s happening in your surroundings. Add as much information as possible – the hair color, outfit description, skin tone, the setting where the image is taken, any object around, etc., to help your reader imagine the entire setting.
  2. Keep it Short It is important to add every relevant information describing the image, but ensure that you do this by keeping your text short. A lengthy description containing creative and flowery words will confuse your readers. A rule of thumb to keep in mind is that screen readers cut off a sentence around 125 characters, so you need to keep the alt description short and clear.
  3. Add Context Related to the Content Tying in the content on your page with a generic image is important for readers to understand its relevance. For example, if you are writing an article about business school and have an image of a woman pointing to a person’s computer screen, create an alternative description that goes like “a professor of a business school pointing to her student’s computer screen” will produce a descriptive yet precise alternative text that helps the reader understand the image better. Include Alt Text Even in Button Images Button images are call-to-actions that urge readers to take action; for example, fill a form, click to attain more information, get redirected to another page, etc. Adding alt text in them makes their purpose clear to the reader and you can also expect them to take the required action.
  4. Do not Copy the Image Caption: Alt texts and closed captions are two different things that add different values. An image caption is displayed on the screen and is viewed by everyone regardless of their abilities, while an alt text is read aloud by assistive technology and is hidden from sighted users. So, if your image includes both, be more descriptive about what you see in the image in its alt text.
  5. Avoid Writing the Obvious Starting your alt description with “image of” or “photo of” is frustrating for an individual using assistive technology. The HTML code in the website will be able to identify non-text content, so there is no point in including these terms in the beginning. Moreover, someone using an assistive technology knows they are accessing an alt text, so they would not prefer “image of” at the beginning of every alt text.

A Well-Written Alt Text Makes Content More Inclusive!

An alt text improves user experience and makes your content more accessible and inclusive to everyone. Not only will it help people with visual impairments, but it will also make sure to feed a user the necessary information and enhance their experience when the images on the webpage or document fail to load.
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Understanding the Importance of PDF Accessibility in Higher Education

Key Takeaways:

  • Higher education institutions must embrace accessibility to ensure a democratized education system.
  • Students with disabilities still face difficulties with PDF accessibility and other barriers in an academic environment.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is one of the many higher education laws that protect students with disabilities. The best way to ensure ADA, WCAG, and 508-compliant PDFs is to choose a professional digital accessibility service.
Technology has become a powerful resource for education. Students worldwide access websites and PDFs daily for academic purposes. Higher education is a crucial step in their lives. It helps them determine their future careers. Hence, these institutions must accommodate students from all backgrounds, languages, and disabilities. Creating a diverse and inclusive student body means disabled and non-disabled students have equal access to everything. At the same time, a truly accessible campus is a challenge. Higher education institutions must research, plan, and commit to understanding the importance of digital accessibility. This blog will discuss why PDF accessibility is vital to higher education.

What are the Accessibility Barriers Students Face in Higher Education?

An academic institution’s website has become a bridge that connects the student and faculty. It provides students of colleges and universities with downloadable study material, easy paper submissions, and even payments. On the other hand, it also helps administrators and professors interact with students; this was a boon during the pandemic. Students and faculty were forced to adapt to this change to ensure higher education life continued as usual. However, while it improved access to education, students with disabilities faced a tough time. For instance, PDF documents are primarily distributed online or through digital platforms. But without PDF accessibility, people with disabilities who use assistive technology cannot access it as intended.   Here are some of the common barriers students with disabilities face in an academic environment:
  • Videos that are without any, or sufficient captions
  • Untagged PDF files make it hard for screen readers and other assistive technology tools to read them PDFs without any alternative text or descriptions for the graphics and images The poor color contrast between the background and the text Poorly scanned documents for those who use assistive technologies.
    While education institutions still face challenges regarding PDF accessibility, prioritizing digital access for all is a starting point.

What are the Higher Education Laws for Accessibility?

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) focuses on creating equal access for all people with disabilities, including students. Though it focuses on the accessibility of physical spaces, Title III states that ”Places of Education’ must accommodate the needs of their students with disabilities. This requires schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions to ensure their courses, examinations, and other resources are accessible and provide assistive technology support as needed. Among the higher education laws, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act explicitly states that people with disabilities are not to be:
  • Denied any benefits
  • Excluded from participating in activities and programs
  • Faced with any discrimination under a program or activity that receives governmental financial assistance.
Section 504 protection only applies to students who qualify for the academic and technical standards for admission and participation in educational activities. They must have a physical or mental disability that interferes with daily functioning, such as vision or auditory impairment or a learning condition. Students must also provide proof of their disability and regarded as being impacted by the disability. .

How to Ensure PDF Accessibility For Higher Education?

PDF or Portable Document File documents comprise a large part of the study material distributed through the websites of colleges, universities, and other educational institutions. Though it is the most common format used in educational institutions, these PDFs may not always be accessible, making it difficult for people with disabilities to read them. That’s why colleges and universities must be careful while selecting and procuring digital learning materials and accessibility tools to ensure all students can access new learning opportunities.
PDF accessibility isn’t that simple—the best way to ensure compliant PDFs are to choose an expert who can help you make digital accessibility a priority.
PREP’s professional PDF remediation services simplify document remediation to achieve 100% compliance. Having assisted organizations and institutions across industries in implementing proper compliance protocols to make their resources accessible, PREP ensures PDF accessibility through:
  • Cutting-edge AI-powered PDF remediation software that provides accurate results with every review
  • Cost-saving and faster document remediation
  • A cloud-based platform that is accessed anywhere, anytime Easy-to-use PDF accessibility software that anyone can learn quickly

What Makes PREP the Right Choice for Your Institution?

Creating an accessible digital experience is no longer an option but a requirement. PREP’s powerful AI-enabled PDF accessibility software makes document remediation simple, economical, and scalable. PREP also supports higher education institutions, such as universities or colleges, to create an inclusive learning environment. It supports faculty, administrators, and others to enable learners with assistive technology to access all educational materials.
Here’s a case study that demonstrates how PREP converted data for a higher education institution. The client was required to turn many low-quality scanned PDF documents into editable Word files. While preserving the content format, PREP’s automated PDF accessibility software identified and converted complex structures, including tables, lists, and equations. Subject matter experts then reviewed these Word files for quality and accuracy. PREP helped the client turn low-quality scanned PDFs into editable Word documents for their learners in less than three weeks. This enabled learners to access and edit documents easily.

Final Thoughts

  • Creating a digitally accessible environment in a higher education institution consists of research, planning, and commitment.
  • There are still many barriers regarding PDF accessibility in an academic environment.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects students with disabilities who qualify for the academic and technical standards in educational activities.
  • Higher education can select digital learning materials and accessibility tools to ensure that students with disabilities get equal access to learning opportunities.
  • Professional PDF remediation service PREP is an expert solution to ensure ADA, WCAG, and 508-compliant PDFs.
PREP’s AI-powered automated PDF accessibility software supports educational institutions such as schools, universities, or colleges in creating an inclusive learning environment by making learning material accessible.
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Why is a Digitally Accessible Healthcare Industry Important?

Healthcare facilities and providers like hospitals and clinics (both public and private) come under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ranging under Title II and Title III. It was made into action to avoid discrimination against people with disabilities. According to the law, people with disabilities must have equal access to all healthcare facilities and services. This means, not just the physical aspects of healthcare facilities need to be accessible, but digital assets need to be made accessible as well.

How does Digital Accessibility Affect the Healthcare Industry?

According to the Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, healthcare providers are given great importance to care for people with disabilities. The law itself prevents the industry from discriminating against people with disabilities.
Moreover, as the world is becoming more digital today, even healthcare providers are increasingly taking their operations and activities online. Every primary healthcare giver has a website where you can find their complete information and even schedule appointments, treatment, and access your diagnosis. Patients can do more than that. They can even compare different doctors with the best reviews, pay their bills, or even access their test results. For these reasons, every healthcare organization must embrace the web and digital accessibility.

What are the Legal Requirements Healthcare Providers Should Follow?

Every healthcare provider must comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA, as the ADA demands. If you fail to meet the legal requirements, you will face penalties.

What Healthcare Documents Need to be Accessible?

Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concludes that 61 million adults in the US live with a disability. The above-stated figure confirms that almost 1 in 4 or 26% of the US population have a disability. However, there is still little to no thought given to their accessibility. For example, if buttons and links are placed close together, some individuals may find it challenging to click the link.
Moreover, even the layout and design can be a barrier for many. People with vision-related challenges find it hard to read content with less contrast between text and background. Screen readers or other assistive technologies cannot interpret images without an image description or alt text. This is why healthcare documents need to be made accessible. In fact, according to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), discrimination based on sex, gender, age, race, nationality, color, and disability in certain healthcare activities or programs is strictly prohibited. This means you are required to make patient forms, documents, and communication available in accessible formats for patients with visual disabilities. If not, you will face legal issues.

Here are the healthcare documents you need to make accessible for disabled individuals:

  • Statements and Bills
  • Pharmacy Directories
  • Evidence of Coverage (EOC)
  • Summary of Benefits
  • Formularies
  • Provider Directories
  • Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)
  • Patient Forms: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Authorization, Consent, and Admissions
  • Accessibility and Inclusion

Every healthcare organization that promotes accessibility in the digital format is ready to empower all patients regardless of their abilities. You become more inclusive and do your part in being ethically correct. Healthcare organizations with more accessibility choices help people with disabilities take control of their lives and preserve their independence – all while also saving themselves from expensive legal troubles!

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How to Make Different Types of Documents Accessible

From Word Documents to PowerPoint Presentations, your organization uses hundreds of documents each day! And, when you spend so much time creating and reading hundreds of such documents daily, it would be better to spend atleast a portion of this time making them compliant with the accessibility standards.

Here are the documents you can make accessible:

  • PDF
  • PPT
  • Excel
  • Word
  1. PDF – When someone talks about making a PDF accessible, they are referring to tagging the PDF. Tagging a PDF gives it a structured presentation to the screen readers for easy readability. There are no visible changes to the document format. However, they make it inherently more accessible for people who use assistive technologies to access the content. Here is what needs to be tagged in a PDF file:
    • Searchable Text: Assistive technology cannot read or extract words that are not searchable text. You won’t be able to select text or make edits to them if the content in the document includes images. To tag a PDF, you will need to convert the scanned images into searchable text using optical character recognition (OCR) before tagging other accessibility features.
    • Alt Text Descriptions: Screen readers cannot read images or other interactive fields unless there are alternate text descriptions added to them.
    • Fonts That Can be Extracted to Text: An accessible PDF contains fonts with enough information to extract characters for purposes other than just displaying text on the screen. If there is no extraction, the screen reader won’t be able to play the Read Out Aloud feature. This is inconvenient for individuals with visual impairments who often are using screen readers.
    • Reading Order and Document Structure Tags: A speech-to-text or screen reader needs the PDF file to have a structure with proper reading order and document structure tags for properly presenting the text. You need to present proper reading order, like headings, sections, paragraphs, tables, lists, graphs, and other page elements.
    • Interactive Form Fields: PDFs containing forms that need to be filled out should be made interactive to make the PDF accessible.
    • Navigational Aids: Navigational aids in PDFs are hyperlinks, bookmarks, table of contents, headings, and tab order. They assist in making the document more understandable and accessible.
    • Document Language: When you specify the language of the PDF, it becomes easier for the screen readers to switch to that language.
  2. PPT – Today, PowerPoint presentations are used for multiple reasons. For instance, in the corporate world for internal meetings, or sharing a presentation with a client. These slideshows heavily rely on visuals like infographics, images, texts, and charts. However, have you ever considered the experience of an inaccessible presentation for individuals using screen readers?
    • Low vision or blind individuals won’t be able to understand the critical aspects since visual imaging holds a lot of importance.
    • People who have are completely deaf will have difficulty hearing what the speaker says. The slides are just notes of what the speaker is explaining. So, that won’t serve enough information.
    • Individuals with motor impairments won’t skim through the slides or wouldn’t click on the video sound.
    Here’s what an accessible PPT should include in order to grant every individual the same access to information:
    • Every type of video or audio should contain captions
    • The pages of the presentation should have an adequate color contrast
    • The meaningful content on the slide should be explained verbally
    • Getting an ASL translator can also help immensely
    • Always use easily readable fonts
    • Make sure you give everyone enough time to process the information
  3. Excel – Excel spreadsheets have the image of storing so much data in their infinite cells that most organizations have a love/hate relationship with them. But have you ever wondered about making them accessible for everyone? It is easier than most people think it is!And here is how:
    • Include titles to explain the set of data included in the spreadsheet
    • Incorporate a message that indicates the end of a table
    • Don’t format the blank cells
    • Try to avoid merging cells as that is harder for the screen reader to grasp
    • Images, graphs, tables, and charts should have alt text
  4. Word – Everyone loves Microsoft Word. It is the best tool for people who want to write professionally or academically.How can you make this handy tool accessible for everyone? It is simple; keep reading:
    • Always use proper heading tags like heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc.
    • Use bullets or numbers to make lists, or else the screen reader won’t be able to read it
    • Every image should hold an alt text
    • Don’t rely on colors to give crucial information
    • Identity the document language
    • Use their in-built accessibility checker to navigate a better understanding of accessibility

How Can PREP Help?

PREP is an AI-enabled technology that allows users to easily import PowerPoint (PPTX), Word Document (Docx), or PDF documents and performs a preliminary tag detection and labels the content with an auto-generated hierarchy-based tag structure. It helps your documents establish a logical sequence, making it easier for the screen reader users or assistive technology device users to navigate easily through the documents.

It allows you to annotate, assign tags, make corrections, and provide alternative text (alt text) for images as and when required. You can even check for compliance against Section 508, WCAG 2.0, PDF U/A, & ADA with PREP & built-in accessibility checker.

We offer customized solutions for every type of organization and professional at the most affordable costs! Contact us to learn more!

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Digital Accessibility: Making Digital Content Work for Everyone

Digital accessibility is the process of designing websites, products, and technologies in a way that they can be accessed by every individual. This includes documents, videos, audio, hardware, websites, and other digital assets. Whether your user is visually impaired or has a cognitive disability, there are several reasons to make digital content accessible to everyone.

Why is Digital Accessibility Important?

According to a statistic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26% of the adult US population has some kind of disability. Among this number, 4.6% of the population have a vision impairment, while 10.8% suffer from cognitive disabilities. We all know how heavily people consume digital content these days. And, with the above- stated figure, imagine the number of people who are restrictedg from accessing your contentbecause of their disability.
If you are not working towards making your digital content obtainable to everyone by enforcing digital accessibility, then you are leaving out at least 2.2 billion of the global population who have visual impairments.
Apart from the “accessibility to all” issue, you also invite penalties and monetary damages to your business if you fail to adhere to the accessibility guidelines. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has highlighted website accessibility significantly. After digitalization gained popularity, the term ADA website compliance became common. According to that, you need to make your websites, applications (apps), or other digital properties accessible to every userRegardless of their abilities. And if you fail to comply with the rules, you are faced with penalties and other harsh expenses. Your business will be ordered to pay legal fees, and you will need to make the necessary fixes.

What are the Principles of Digital Accessibility?

There are four main principles of digital accessibility recognized by the WCAG (Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines) is encompassed by the acronym POUR. Let us explore what each principle stands for:

  1. Perceivable – According to the first principle of digital accessibility, your user interface and the information must be conveyed to the users in an easily perceivable way. The user should be able to make sense of the digital content without difficulties. Everyone, whether they read the information or use an additional technology for reading, should be able to perceive accurate knowledge. To make content perceivable
    Alt (alternative) text should be provided for matters with no text, like the images
    Content should be adaptable to structure in ways without losing the original information
  2. Operable – Operable content means users can successfully navigate through buttons, controls, and navigation tools. Even when users use assistive technologies like screen readers or Braille displays, they should be able to operate the digital content without any hassles.To make digital content more operable, you should focus on the following:
    • Making every function accessible with the help of a keyboard, mouse, and other assistive inputs
    • Giving users enough time to access the content
    • Not designing content that can cause seizures or physical reactions
    • Providing easier navigation
  3. Understandable – Understandable digital content relates to making the user interface and information easier
    to comprehend for every user. The design, presentation, format, and usage pattern should hold an appropriate tone and voice.

     

    Making web content understandable requires you to:

    • Create readable and understandable text
    • Operate the webpage in a predictable manner
    • Give input assistance to avoid or correct mistakes
  4. Robust – The content should be robust enough for users and their assistive technologies to interpret it correctly to access websites, documents, and media easily. To make it robust, your business must prioritize compatibility for user agents and technologies.

What is the Difference Between Web Accessibility and Digital Accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the principles that make a website and other content and technologies equally accessible to people with disabilities. Every website, tool, and technique should be developed in a way that everyone, whether they have a disability or not, can perceive, operate, understand, interact, and contribute to the web.
Whereas digital accessibility includes web accessibility along with referring to the accessibility of everything digital videos, electronic documents, audio, animations, and mobile apps!

Why Should Businesses Focus on Digital Accessibility?

Today, digitally accessible content is not an option anymore. A business should be ADA-compliant regarding web accessibility. Not only is it a legal requirement, but as a business owner, it is also your ethical duty to make sure whatever content you put on the internet is non-discriminatory towards people with visual or cognitive impairments.

Digital accessibility is also known to be a proven strategy for operational success. In fact, 71% of the users with a disability will leave your website if it is not accessible. 

Here are other reasons why digital accessibility should be a focus of your business:
  1. Improve User Experience – Accessible content is going to increase user experience for people with all abilities. It will make it easier for everyone to navigate and read text.
  2. Increase Sales Revenue – You lose many potential customers if you do not make your digital content accessible. And we are not talking about a few hundred, but significant population of people. It is believed that a business sees an increase in its sales revenue when there is an accessible design as it:
    • Reaches a larger customer base
    • Makes your site easier to use
    • Improves your SEO rankings
    • Drives innovation
  3. Eliminate Chances of Getting Penalized – In the United States, businesses must comply with the digital and web accessibility ADA.Your business will undergo costly lawsuits if you do not follow the rules and regulations set to make content accessible.
So, ensure you comply with the laws and avoid getting penalized.
Incorporating Digital Accessibility
Previously, accessibility was only applied to physical, private, and public spaces. But today, as the world has taken a turn with the widespread of technology, it has expanded its wings to the digital world. Businesses, technologies, litigations, and others must push themselves further to achieve complete digital accessibility to stay inclusive and compliant with the laws. And as the internet continues growing to provide digital solutions, web developers need to level up and include elements of digital accessibility!
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How to Make Documents Accessible and Why is it Important?

Making documents accessible is not an option anymore. It is a necessity. Today, in this digital world, it is especially important for your content to reach every type of audience, regardless of their abilities or if they are using assistive devices. Becoming more inclusive is the norm, and abiding by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is necessary to ensure that your document is accessible to everyone.

What is an Accessible Document?

An accessible document is a document that follows rules that increases its readability. This makes content consumption easier for people with disabilities and individuals using screen reader software.

Why is Document Accessibility Important?

For many individuals, it is easy to scroll through different websites, read thousands of documents daily, fill out forms, request online information, or read emails without the need to be assisted by technology or any external factor. But this can’t be said for people who use assistive technologies like screen reader software. Imagine you want to fill up a college application through an online document, but you find that none of the content is formatted correctly. It gets harder for your screen reader to comprehend what the page wants to convey. How frustrating is it, right?

Creating accessible documents, websites and apps allow individuals with visual or cognitive difficulties to skim through them smoothly. It helps them use document properties properly, and they can jump from one part of the document to another without problems. It creates a place of inclusivity and allows individuals with visual or cognitive impairments equal access to the content. Every public organization is required to adhere to document accessibility standards. However, not everyone can completely understand or follow the best practices for document accessibility.

How to Create Accessible Documents?

When you create accessible documents, you ensure that everyone who comes to your website, document or app can consume the content without difficulties. For this to happen effortlessly, you need to consider the best practices.
Here are the proper ways to make a document accessible:

  1. Proper Heading Structure
    Headings are the titles that give your document a meaningful structure. Using proper heading structure creates logic and makes it easier for screen readers to analyze when the paragraph text of one section ends and the next section begins. Accessible documents for individuals using screen reader technologies need a proper heading structure with appropriate heading tags like H1, H2, H3, H4, and so on. This helps the screen reader to navigate the document without difficulties.
  2. Meaningful Hyperlinks
    Documents that will be viewed digitally include hyperlinks to web pages for the convenience of navigation. Although they are easier for sighted people to track and reach the desired page, it needs to make more sense for people with vision or cognition challenges. The hyperlink must contain standalone information that conveys clear details of the link. You can do this by adding the full title of the destination webpage. However, when you are hyperlinking something, please avoid restyling it as it may get difficult for the screen reader to understand.
  3. Alt Text for Images
    When information gets too complex to describe in words, images are meant to add value and make it less complicated. Moreover, people with dyslexia or learning difficulties have difficulty processing content. So, images can prove to be one of the most valuable additions to a document. However, making documents accessible with images needs to be done correctly. For example, place images in a way that doesn’t obstruct the text flow. For an image to make sense to people relying on screen reader software to access a document online, you need to add alternative (alt) text to it. This helps the screen readers to convey the information described in the alt text easily to the reader. When you create an alt text, ensure you provide accurate information and describe what the image conveys. Moreover, it should be about 150 characters.
  4. Appropriate Colors
    Don’t use color to convey important information like an indicator of a document feature. For example, the color in a document should not convey the different heading levels. Moreover, there should be sufficient and appropriate contrast between the text and the document’s background color. This is because people with color blindness have a hard time reading content if it is not in the appropriate colors. Even a screen reader won’t be able to indicate when the color has changed.
  5. Correct Fonts
    There are no hard and fast rules as to what fonts can be used in an accessible document. However, most organizations prefer simple sans-serif fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica without fancy artistic modifications. These fonts are preferred in web designing because they are easy to read. Fonts that need to be avoided are light and thin as people with vision problems find it harder to read.
  6. Easier Table Navigation
    It is essential to make tables that allow users to access information more easily. Since tables are read from left to right and top to bottom, it is easier for a sighted user to read in that format. However, a screen reader reads the table from one word to the other. To make your document accessible for people using a screen reader, ensure that you keep the table structure as simple as possible. Do not merge cells or split them. Use table properties to head row headers and alt text. Add lists or columns if the information is not in data format.
  7. Proper Video Captions
    A caption in a video is the visual text representation of the video. It provides text narration of what is going on in the video. This is helpful for people who cannot hear or situations when audio is not available. YouTube has a feature that creates automatic captions for the video if you forget to add text to it.
  8. Transcript for Video and Audio
    People with partial or complete vision loss have difficulty watching a video. A text version of what is being shown on the screen is provided with proper transcripts. It is easier for the screen reader to comprehend. Moreover, even people with hearing loss benefit from reading the transcript playing on the screen.
  9. Use Lists
    No one likes to read complex information. In times like this, you need to break up the information into a numbered or bulleted list for people to grasp the content easily. This is necessary, especially for people using screen readers. It allows assistive technology to understand valuable information like where the list begins and ends, what items are on the list, and how many items are on the list.
  10. Word Accessibility Checker
    If you are creating a document on Microsoft Word, you can see a “Check Accessibility” feature in the Review section of your page. If you run this in-built “Accessibility Checker” feature, it will highlight and tell you when your document is having problems with accessibility. The best part is that it also provides information on improving document accessibility.

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