Creating a professional website for their brand tops the priority of every business owner. Just because your website is easy to read and simple to navigate does not mean everything is fine. Business websites must be ADA compliant. First things first, what is an ADA-compliant website? Put simply, an ADA-compliant website can be accessed by all (including people with disabilities).
Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Acts are a civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to their employees with disabilities.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in jobs, schools, transportation, and private and public places for general access.
The ADA requires employers to take steps to make their facilities accessible to people with disabilities.
Businesses also need to ensure that people with disabilities can easily access their websites. They are required to provide web accessibility features and functionalities designed to help people with disabilities easily use their websites.
Originally, the ADA defined disabilities as the conditions that prevent people from performing major life activities. In 2018, an amendment broadened the definition of disability. Now, any person who is unable to perform everyday tasks due to a physical or neurological condition is considered to be living with a disability.
Any business that operates for 20 or more weeks every year and employs 15 or more people must comply with the ADA. The law also covers businesses that fall into the category of public accommodation, including banks, hotels, and public transportation.
Failure to comply with website accessibility requirements can attract a fine of up to $55,000 for the first violation, and $11,000 for every subsequent violation. Businesses receiving Federal funding can be blacklisted for non-compliance.
Though the act has been in place for a long time now, many businesses still do not realize the importance of website ADA compliance, and there are several misconceptions about the law. Around 2,300 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2018, an increase of 177 percent over 2017.
Website design companies have a major role to play here. If a digital marketing agency in san jose creates a non-compliant website for a client, they put the business at risk of getting slapped with ADA lawsuits. This is bad both for the client’s and the agency’s reputation. Plus, the agency will draw flak for its lack of professionalism. That’s why it is suggested by the experts to make ADA compliant website.
It is worth mentioning here that the ADA does not lay down any technical requirements to make websites accessible. The website creator/developer has full freedom to decide which technological aids they want to use to help their visitors with disabilities access their websites.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG are a part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative, a project by the World Wide Web Consortium or W3C, an international organization committed to improving the web.
WCAG guidelines are a set of recommendations for making web content more accessible for people with disabilities and user agents (software acting on behalf of users). WCAG 1.0 was published and became a W3C recommendation in 1999, WCAG 2.0 was published in 2008, and the latest recommendation, WCAG 2.1 was published in 2018.
When creating your website, follow these standards to comply with web accessibility requirements and the ADA.
Thanks to advancements in technology, people with disabilities today have several audio-visual aids designed to help them interact with content at their disposal. Make sure your website supports popular assistive technologies, including:
Provide customer support for users with disabilities. Have a system in place that simplifies the process of submitting feedback for users with disabilities. Schedule regular audits to test your web pages for accessibility.
Here are some ways to find out whether your website is ADA compliant:
There are several free ADA-compliance checker tools. An ADA-compliance checker tool analyzes every aspect of your website design, including its color scheme, image alt texts used, and text size.
The World Wide Web Consortium offers several ADA-compliance checker tools. Website owners with WordPress sites can even install ADA compliance plugins.
You can hire an ADA compliance agency to audit your website for accessibility. After the audit, the agency will reveal your accessibility score and recommend measures to make your website more accessible. Many ADA compliance agencies are capable of implementing plans to make websites ADA compliant.
A manual audit involves evaluating every page of the website for accessibility. Manual audits are not feasible for comprehensive websites with numerous pages.
When it comes to making your website accessible, the importance of ensuring that it is keyboard-friendly cannot be emphasized enough. Most assistive technologies rely on keyboard-only navigation.
You need to make sure that all your website’s main features can be used through a keyboard. Make sure all web content and navigation can be accessed using the Tab key.
When adding an image to WordPress, remember to enter its alternative text that can act as an alternative replacement for the image in case it fails to load.
You can also use alt text to give context to users who access them. Alt text gives search engines more information to crawl and can improve your website’s SEO Score.
To ensure your site is accessible for people with vision impairments and defects use a color contrast that makes it easier for them to distinguish between different elements on your pages.
The text must stand out against the background. Using a dark color against a light color will ensure that they do not bleed into each other. You can use an online tool to find and test color combinations.
Tables should be used exclusively for displaying data. If you use them for anything else, you run the risk of confusing screen readers. To help users assimilate information easily and swiftly, keep tables as simple as you can.
Make sure fields in your forms are clearly and accurately labeled. Labels must be placed adjacent to their respective fields. This will help ensure that people using screen readers can easily match labels to their corresponding fields. Provide clear, understandable instructions and information.
Many devices and browsers allow users to resize text. If, however, your website does not support this feature, users resizing text will find it difficult to interact with your site. Use relative sizes that enable the text to scale depending on screen size and other content.
Never turn off user scalability. Once these changes are implemented, test your font sizes by increasing the zoom level in your browser. Check whether content becomes difficult to read or navigate.
Use headers to structure your website content. The more accurate and clear your headers, the easier it will be for screen readers to analyze your pages. Use one H1 per page followed by subheadings, if required.