Washington D.C. Web Accessibility Laws
Updated: June 3, 2019
D.C. is one of the most accessible cities in the world. Whether you are visiting the White House or National Gallery of Art, all attractions are accessible to all visitors.
Off the streets and in the cyberspace, Washington D.C. is equally committed to creating an accessible space for all visitors.
Web Accessibility laws in D.C.
The District of Columbia adheres to the accessibility standards set by the federal government.
The applicable laws are:
- Section 508 Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Standards
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Note, D.C. is not a federal government establishment, therefore Section 508 does not apply directly to the D.C. government. However, the D.C. government has adopted Section 508 requirements as a “minimum standard that must be met for all web communications.”
How Section 508 Applies to D.C.
Section 508 applies directly to federal agencies and many state governments. While Section 508 does not apply directly to the D.C. government, the District of Columbia has adopted it as the “minimum standard” for all web communications, and all information posted on the DC.gov web portal adheres to Section 508 Standards.
The basic requirements that must be meet under Section 508 include:
- Images: “Meaningful” images must provide a text alternative conveying the same information as the image. “Decorative” images must inform assistive technologies to ignore the image so not to confuse the reader.
- Color: “Color and visual formatting must not be used in ways that prevent the users from obtaining the information on the webpage.”
- tables: Layout tables are not permitted. Users should present information using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
- Forms: Forms must not have barriers that prevent users from completing and submitting online forms.
- Links: Links must have clear description of where they lead to, and webpages should not be overloaded with links.
- Frames: All frames and iframes must use descriptive frame titles and names.
- Page structure: Pages should use appropriate structures with proper HTML tags or properly tagged PDFs.
- Lists: Lists must be structured as a list in the pages source code or document page structure.
- Style sheets and styles: Users must be able to read pages without style sheets.
- Embedded content: Users must be able to open embedded content on the page.
- Animation: An alternative presentation without animation must be present. This can be provided through a link that brings users to a non-animated equivalent.
- WAI-ARIA: ARIA properties must be correctly set.
Note, as of 2018, all entities under Section 508 must meet WCAG 2.0 level A and level AAsuccess criteria. Hence, all D.C. government entities must also comply with WCAG.
How the ADA applies to D.C.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.
Title II and III of the ADA relate to web accessibility for state and local entities. Title II requires “effective communication,” meaning that people with disabilities are provided with communication as effective as that provided to others.
Under Title III, private entities (like private universities and private companies) must also provide “effective communication.” The Title also states that individuals with disabilities are entitled to full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, or accommodations at any place of public accommodation.
Video Requirements for D.C.
Text transcripts must be published in conjunction with audio only or video only content. If a website does not support a transcript, then the transcript must be published in a separate website with a link to the transcript.
Synchronized audio and video must have open or closed captions and audio descriptions whenever the “audio or video is crucial to understanding the presentation.”
If a site does not support captions, then a captioned video must be hosted on a site that does support captions and a link to that captioned video should be provided (especially if the video is being posted on social media).
Social Media Accessibility
The District of Columbia acknowledges the predominance of social media for its constituents, and therefore requires D.C. government agencies to ensure they are “providing effective communication to people with disabilities through social media.”
Videos posted to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube must include captions. Images must have alternative texts. If anything inaccessible is shared from a third-party, then steps must be taken to ensure it’s accessible when posted on a D.C. social media account.
In addition, agencies should include contact information in their profiles so that users with disabilities can contact them with any issues that may arise.
- Section 508 and 504: Closed Captioning & Web Accessibility Requirements
- Section 508 Refresh Checklist
- How the ADA Impacts Online Video Accessibility
- WCAG 2.0: Bringing Web Accessibility into the 21st Century
- Beginner’s Guide to Captioning
- Beginner’s Guide to Audio Description
- How to Add Captions to Twittter Videos
- How to Add Captions to Facebook
- How to Add Captions to YouTube
Learn About Other U.S. State Accessibility Laws
Click on the map below to learn more about captioning and web accessibility laws in other states.
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