We have all seen or used them, from the ramp to get into a building, to the handicap bathroom in the back of the store. As a business owner, you know things like these are required by law. What you may not realize is that your website should have similar accessible features.
You may be asking yourself, “is this government mandated?”, “Is this something I really need to be worried about?”, or “Are the people that walk through my door really going to care?”. I hope to try to answer these questions below.
Let me start off with a brief history of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush back in 1990. The “too long; didn’t read” (tl;dr) version is that the law eliminated unnecessary physical barriers to commercial and government buildings - think stairs and bathrooms. It also banned employment discrimination against the disabled. Fast forward to now, and as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. The law has had some unintended consequences in the form of lawsuits and excessive costs for business owners to meet the ADA guidelines.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners are notorious do-it-yourselfers. Without the backing of major corporations, we need be able to create things and handle our own issues. However, there are some tasks to which we need to trust professionals.
City and town websites have very unique challenges. They must simultaneously serve a wide range of people with an even wider range of wants and needs. Unlike a retail or service business with a target audience, municipal government websites need to present information without overwhelming their citizens.
So what are signs of a great municipal government website?