Are your documents and website up to ADA standards?

WHAT HAPPENED?

Clients and shareholders with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual impairments use assistive devices, like screen readers, screen magnifiers, and Braille displays, to consume content produced by your firm. Certain technical criteria are required to be met to allow such devices to easily navigate and display your documents and websites.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) lays out guidelines for how to make documents widely accessible and can be applied to certain file types often used for documents, like Form ADV and fact sheets. Many firms are voluntarily making the transition to independently adopt accessibility standards throughout their organizations in order to better serve all types of stakeholders. The two main standards for ADA compliance for PDFs and websites are discussed below:

PDF Accessibility 

To successfully navigate and consume PDF content, accessibility devices require specific structure, tagging, and style to be present in a PDF file. PDF/Universal Accessibility (PDF/UA) is the most modern standard for accessible PDF documents and includes several features. The major requirements are:

  • Tagging of all text content and structure
  • Ensuring content is presented in a logical reading order
  • Including alternative text descriptions for graphical or photographic content
  • Proper text and color contrast throughout the document

Although many of the requirements can be met and verified via automated scans, some, such as reading order, are more subjective and require manual review and editing.

Website and HTML Accessibility 

Like PDFs, websites and general HTML content also have a set of guidelines, referred to as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The most current set of requirements is WCAG 2.1, which offers three levels of conformance, Level A through AAA. Some requirements include:

  • All site functionality must be available from a keyboard and not require the use of a mouse
  • Avoiding repetitive flashing elements to protect users susceptible to seizures
  • Appropriately tagging in code interface elements such as menus and buttons
  • Allowing text and interface elements to be resized dynamically

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

Although voluntary, making your documents and website ADA compliant can make your firm a better choice for all types of clients and investors. To be ADA compliant, you may need to:

  • Test, convert, and update any existing public-facing PDF documents to meet PDF/UA standards
  • Update your current workflow to ensure that certain documents in the PDF format meet PDF/UA standards
  • Update or create new websites and HTML content to meet any level of WCAG 2.1 conformance

If you are seeking to transition to ADA compliant documents, Fairview and our affiliate, FilePoint, can help. Reach out to us today for more information about how we can support your business in meeting accessibility standards.

About the Author:

Fairview®
Founded in 2005 with the goal of developing streamlined solutions for investment advisers, Fairview® is now servicing investment advisers, foundations, and funds with nearly $300 billion in collective assets.