You may have heard the term “ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance” thrown around, but do you know what it means? Do you know if your website follows the proper guidelines? What happens if your website is not ADA compliant?
The term has become more noticeable in the last decade as our society aims for greater inclusion. When it comes to ADA compliance for websites, the do’s and don’ts can be confusing and, in most cases, completely ignored.
There are a lot of boxes that need to be checked to follow ADA compliance, and we’re here to guide you through these regulations in the easiest way possible.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was issued in 2010. All electronic information and online technologies, including computer software, hardware, and documentation, should be accessible to individuals with disabilities, according to the standards.
This simply means that any company that has a website must make sure that the content that is there is accessible to people with disabilities.
How do I know if my website is ADA compliant?
Knowing if your website is ADA compliant is where the waters get a bit murky.
There are no clear guidelines for website compliance with the ADA, but the suggested best practice is to follow the guidelines under WCAG 2.1 and post an accessibility statement.
The fact that there are no definitive guidelines does not mean that companies are exempt from liability; they have yet to provide an accessible website that accommodates users with disabilities.
The WCAG guidelines are an exhaustive list. Some of the requirements that websites must provide are:
- Content without text
- Text alternatives for videos and audio recordings
- Subtitles on videos
- Audio/Media Descriptions
- Sign language interpretations
- The ability to change the brightness and contrast on the page.
- No music autoplay
- The option to hide moving or blinking objects.
According to David Engelhardt, a New York City-based small business attorney, “When it comes to websites, there is no federally codified direction on how to make websites compliant.”
How to Develop an ADA Compliant Website: A Step-by-Step Guide
1. Assess Your Current Site:
ADA-compliant websites should be considered perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Use screen reading software like Lightroom or WAVE to run this test on your site.
2. Choose ADA Compliant Graphics:
ADA compliant graphics include those that flash no more than three times (this can lead to seizures) and have text descriptions that can be read aloud.
3. Add alt text and readable fonts:
For the visually impaired, complex fonts, light-colored text, or dark/harsh backgrounds can be very taxing on the eyes. Instead, use basic fonts like Georgia, Arial, and Open Sans on light backgrounds with dark text.
4. Make Website Features Logical:
An ADA-compliant website will lead users to make logical decisions without much thought, for example by placing an “X” over a popup to indicate a way to close it. Menus, buttons, and links should be obvious and logically organized.
5. Code your ADA-compliant website with standard HTML tags:
An assist reader must be able to parse the code on your website. To allow this, use standard HTML tags and provide documents in text-based formats.
6. Make the site keyboard and pause compatible:
This falls under the “operable” category under the ADA. Any user should be able to access and navigate your website via keyboard while also having the ability to pause any noise or videos.
7. Offer alternatives and suggestions when users encounter input errors:
If a user with a disability is having trouble filling out a form or entering information, an ADA-compliant website should automatically offer recommendations to help.
8. Stay current on changes in ADA compliance:
ADA compliance requirements and technologies are evolving, making it difficult to keep up with regulations. As a starting point, make sure your website has easily readable text and code that will work with assistive readers.
It takes time to create an ADA-compliant website using the proper website design concepts. Wait a few months when looking at a website project like this; don’t expect it to change in a few days.
An ADA-compliant website will make it easier for all visitors to access your site, allowing you to expand your target audience, improve your SEO efforts, and avoid fines.
To make your website ADA-compliant, you may need to work with a company that has the necessary skills and understanding to code and design it according to the appropriate guidelines.
If you’re ready to move forward and follow ADA-compliant criteria, contact us for a free consultation; we’ll be able to assist you with a game plan.