This blog post will be discussing what ADA compliance is and how it can affect your website. You see, ADA compliance doesn’t just apply to buildings, but also websites. Keep reading to discover how this regulation affects your business…
For most of our clients, we recommend accessiBe, which is a great tool for obtaining accessibility compliance.
What is ADA Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses and government entities to remove any physical barriers that prevent a person with disabilities from being able to fully participate in society on an equal basis with others.
It is designed to allow everyone to lead independent lives, which means no steps at the entrance to their workplace and being able to benefit from the same facilities as everyone else. In regards to websites, this means ensuring all website features can be used by all visitors.
Which Businesses Need to be ADA Compliant?
ADA compliance may or may not be something you need to worry about. The following need to be ADA compliant:
- Companies with more than 15 workers
- Governments at all levels have an obligation to follow the American Disabilities Act
- Companies that run for the public
Nearly every internet business needs to follow ADA compliance. The trouble is that most web sites don’t even know that they’re in violation of ADA compliance laws – they aren’t doing it on purpose!
It’s also true that while not every website needs to be ADA compliant by law, it is still recommended that while creating a website that it’s ADA compliant for the best user experience.
The Importance of Becoming ADA Compliant
In order to be compliant with federal laws, your website must reach the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Some lawsuits can be filed by people who have a disability and can’t properly access the information on your site. Now, you may not be discriminating on purpose, but you could still end up with a massive fine.
Steps to Achieve Website ADA Compliance
Website accessibility guidelines are usually related to WCAG 2.0. This resource includes recommendations for meeting ADA accessibility guidelines, tips for making this easier on web developers, and a list of the top priorities covered by the ADA. The WCAG includes these elements:
1.) Improve content organization
Perceivable content is comprised of items that users can understand. So if a person with disabilities cannot see text or listen to audio, it is essential for them to have something else to turn to.
2.) Improve ease of use
Your customers need to be able to navigate through content and use their features. Make sure that any user can use the main navigation of your website, as well as any site tools, like calculators.
3.) Improve readability and flow
Make sure your website is easy for anyone to understand. Text, images, videos, and tools should be understandable by all users. For instance, your website may offer an FAQ page with instructions on how to use a specific feature.
If you want more guidance on how to use images, check out our blog article titled How to Use Images in Website Design.
4.) Improve the robustness of your website
If you want all users to be able to experience your application in the same way, regardless of their background, user assistance needs (i.e., screen readers for people with vision disabilities) or assistive technologies they are using (i.e., speakers and Braille devices for people who are hard-of-hearing), then the website needs to be robust enough to handle it.
Sounds good in principle, but what can you actually do when it comes to designing your website? Fortunately, the WCAG created a list of principles, which makes it easier to make your website ADA compliant:
- Level A: For some users
- Level AA: For nearly every user
- Level AAA: For all users
It’s usually enough to meet level AA requirements, but it’s advisable to be the best you can be.
Actionable Steps to Take
Here are the actionable steps to take when you want no trouble with ADA law:
Navigation consistency – This is key to providing a user-friendly interface. Make sure that your navigation menu and all other navigational elements are always located in the same place, so viewers know where they need to go for specific items. One thing you can do to make navigation consistency is to use a responsive website design so that your visitor will be able to use a similar site regardless of device.
Contrast ratio – In order to make a website easy and comfortable for the viewer, use colors that are not too bright or dark. You should maintain 4.5:1 contrast ratio when designing your site.
Text resizing – Users will be able to resize text on your site from its original size (200% larger is ideal). This should not result in any change in functionality of the website.
Language attributes – For any content you post on your website that is not in the default language, provide a language attribute.
Navigation – Provide navigation options to allow users to easily locate content, with the exception of pages that are at the end of a process (check-out page). This can be accomplished by adding a site search function and navigation menu.
Captions – Any video will need captions to be accessible. The best strategy is to use software or hire a transcription service with an understanding of your niche’s language.
Audio descriptions – These are an essential part of accessibility, and provide a way for people with visual impairments to enjoy your content. You can add audio description tracks in order to make this possible.
Headings – Make sure your site’s headings and labels communicate the purpose of the content. This may be done by using descriptive phrases or headings, like “Get Pricing” or “Submit an Inquiry.”
Focus visible – Hidden focus indicators on form fields, links, and menus is not helpful to those viewers with limited vision, as it can be difficult for them to know what they’re clicking when using their keyboards or trackpads. Add this feature by adding CSS code into your style sheet in order to make sure that all impacted text areas are visible.
Identification consistency – Designers need to identify the purpose of a site’s elements. Elements that work the same way should be given identical labels and names.
Error suggestions – This is a great way to save users time and problems when filling out forms. For example, if the user inputs an invalid phone number or email address into your contact form, then you should offer suggested corrections.
Error prevention – All pages with important information must be double-checked before actions are confirmed. It should also be reversible – just in case a mistake happens.
Final Thoughts on the Importance of Website Accessibility
In conclusion, to comply with ADA compliance, most companies recommend meeting Level AA requirements. This is usually enough, but it’s advisable to be the best you can be for the ultimate website experience.
Those who use WordPress can install an ADA compliance plugin to streamline the process. If not, work on getting these items done so that your business is moving towards being fully compliant with this important law!