Texas Genealogy & History
"...the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic..."
- from the Texas Declaration of Independence, 2 March 1836
The Basics of ADA
What is ADA?
Most people know that ADA means Americans with Disabilities Act, but they don't know that there is a move sweeping the web to ensure that websites are ADA compliant. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 by the 101st Congress. The ADA website states, "[The act] prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in 'places of public accommodation' (businesses and non-profit agencies that serve the public) and 'commercial facilities' (other businesses)." ADA has been amended several times to meet the changing face of architecture and technology. One of these amendments deals with the Internet.
How does ADA compliance help my users "use" my TXGenWeb website?
People who are hearing impaired or have vision problems need a special software that will assist them with viewing your site. ADA compliance usually deals with those that are visually impaired. There are several Website Readers out there that will read a site to the user through the speakers on their machine. However, keep in mind that not everyone uses a reader. You may have someone who has a slight vision problem that needs ADA compliance, but doesn't need a reader to use the web. Be sure to meet the needs of both groups and you should be fine.
What are the most important things that I need to do to make my site ADA compliant?
The most important things you need to think of are: color scheme, font (type, color and size), audio and ALT tags. There are several other items that you also need to consider, but we will discuss those at a later lesson.
Do not use a color of text on a background that is a similar shade of the same color. This causes problems with people who are colorblind. They will not be able to see your text.
You may wonder why #5 is bad? Do not use a light color of text on a dark background for anything that someone might want to print out. Most printers will print out a black or blank page. If you are not sure if your website is printable, print a test page. If you can't read it, then you need to change the color scheme.
Likewise, be careful of putting a background on your site that blends with the text. If you users can't read your site, they will leave.
In all three of these cases, black text on a white background will always work. It may be boring, but you can always make the area around the content look nice.
Try to have the same color scheme on every page. Those who are unfamiliar with the web get confused if they go to a page that looks completely different. They sometimes worry that they have left your site.
Fonts that have a serif are hard to read. By serif, I mean fonts like Times New Roman. People with vision problems have a hard time reading the fonts that are fancier than Arial. All of your content should be Arial and the size should be -1. Anything smaller than -1 (-2 to -7) is hard to read. Also, try to stay away from any kind of cursive fonts in your text and graphics.
The font color should be a different color than your background and should be printable. (See previous topic.) Be sure to remember that your links will be a different color than your normal text. If you have a blue background, but your text is normally black, the links will still be unreadable. Also the same for those links that have been visited which defaults to purple. (See example Bad #2 and Bad #4.)
Avoid using any audio on your website. Most audio will stop the reader programs or go on at the same time, making them useless. This is very frustrating for those who need these programs to use your site. If you want a song to play on your site, please make it optional. (Click here to listen to "Dixie.")
Another reason to avoid using audio is to keep those who are at work from getting fired for surfing the internet, but this is second to the previous reason.
All images on your site should have an ALT tag. This is a designation that the reader software uses to tell the user what the image would look like.
For instance, put your cursor on the TXGenWeb logo above and let it stay there for a few seconds. A tiny window should appear that says "The TXGenWeb Project." Most readers will say the word "link" beforehand and then say "The TXGenWeb Project." A better way to do this would be to have an ALT tag that says "Go to the TXGenWeb Project."
Setting up ALT tags is very simple to do and will really help out your users who need readers. In the html code, you will have something that looks like this: <img src="texas.gif">. Add the ALT tag like this: <img src="texas.gif" alt="Go to TXGenWeb">.
Can I test my page with a reader?
Yes. You can download a free DEMO version of JAWS, which is a reader program. I would not recommend leaving it on your computer forever, but it would be a good thing to run your site through a few times to get a feel for what the readers do when they go through your site and what changes you may need to make. You might be surprised by how well your site meets ADA compliance. On the other hand, you might also be surprised at how many things don't pass the grade. (Currently, JAWS is only available for Windows.)
The next ADA lesson that we have will deal with some more issues that arise when trying to make your site ADA compliant. But if you can meet the above issues, you will be well on your way to helping your genealogists who have visual problems be able to trace their family roots.
You may notice a message beside the county listing indicating it is available for adoption. This means that we are looking for someone to take it over on a permanent basis. If you would like to adopt a web page for one of these counties, please contact Shirley Cullum , State Coordinator. The assistant state coordinators are Elaine Martin and Jane Keppler.
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