The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) takes steps to ensure that people with physical and cognitive disabilities have access to the same services, accommodations, and facilities as the rest of the population. This set of regulations applies to both the public and private sectors, and includes specific stipulations for websites and eCommerce.

Pierson Media is a full-service web design and digital marketing agency, and we are well equipped to help your website make the jump to ADA compliance. Doing so will not only eliminate a large degree of legal liability, but will also connect your business with an entirely new group of consumers. It’s a great way to grow your business and eliminate risk! Pierson Media’s ADA Compliance web developers are here to help.

ADA Compliant Website

Who Needs To Be Compliant?

The ADA requires businesses and corporations to provide all their clients with access to the same services, including websites, apps, and electronic media. Aiming for level AAA compliance is ideal but being AA compliant is acceptable for most small businesses. Schools, hospitals, and publicly funded institutions must maintain AAA compliance to fully protect themselves for litigation and to protect their reputation. From a business point of view, it’s beneficial for a company to be accessible to all potential clients and consumers. Alienating people with disabilities will only cause a business to lose potential clients.

How to Become ADA Compliant

There isn’t one legal definition of ADA compliance because the requirements are still being created through various court cases. The ADA only provides direction on some of the most common issues, but not all of them. The guidelines aren’t official and will probably change in the future. As of right now, most companies are using the guidelines provided by WCAG 2.0 to be either A or AA compliant. Most businesses already meet most of the criteria and others will only need a web developer to bring their websites up to par. On the other hand, there are some things that are much more difficult to fix depending on the situation.

Level A Compliance

Level A Compliance includes basic guidelines that enhance website accessibility:

  • Media players should contain a link to site where the software can be downloaded.
  • “Skip navigation” functionality should allow users to access content easily.
  • Users should be notified of any invalid information they enter.
  • Photos should include alternative text readable by screen reader software.
  • Video content should have text captions.
  • Video/audio content should have text transcripts or descriptions.
  • Look of website should not rely only on color.
  • Page titles should thoroughly describe the page content.
  • Links should be clearly named.
  • Automatically played audio can be stopped immediately.
  • Use “strong” and “em” tags instead of “b” and “i” tags.
  • No empty links or heading tags.
  • Headings should appear in a logical order.
  • Users should be notified of any time limits.
  • All pages must have a language code in header.
  • Forms contain labels and legends that are readable by screen reader software.
  • Content that automatically scrolls, flashes, or blinks can be disabled.
  • Website should be free of strobe effects or rapidly flashing colors or animations.
  • Interactive elements shouldn’t affect readability or layout of webpage.
  • Website can be navigated using the keyboard.
  • Keyboard focus shouldn’t lock on to any specific page element.
  • Website should pass W3C HTML validation without any major errors.

Level AA Compliance

Level AA is more advanced compared to Level A and is the second level required for full ADA compliance:

  • Website pages can be accessed multiple ways.
  • Contrast ratio between readable and background elements should be at least 4.5:1.
  • Live video and audio streaming should have captions.
  • Photos do not replace any function that can be achieved through text.
  • When resized to 200%, text should maintain form and not affect the page layout.
  • Keyboard focus should be clear and visible always.
  • Menus and buttons should have consistent order and presentation throughout the site.
  • Website should be free of underlined text that does not contain a link.
  • Use of repetitious links on the same page should be minimized or eliminated.
  • Suggestions should be provided whenever a user faces input errors.
  • When asking users for sensitive data, error prevention techniques should be in place.
  • Sites using multiple languages should identify the languages in code for each page.