As digital pros, we love surfing the web and exploring new things. You might feel the same way. Not everyone, though, is able to use the internet as easily as the rest of us.
Some people need extra support, and that’s where ADA compliance comes in!
ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including websites.
ADA compliance is a necessary good because it opens the door to people with disabilities to reap the full benefits of the internet.
What exactly is an ADA compliant website?
Answer: An ADA compliant website is one designed to be accessible for individuals with visual, auditory, or physical impairments.
Why is ADA Compliance important for your website?
ADA compliance is important for your website for several reasons.
You gain a wider audience
The more people who visit and use your website, the better!
You improve the user experience
Accessibility standards are in place for a reason. They benefit all users, not just those with disabilities.
It’s legally required for entities that serve the public ⚖️
The ADA requires that all public and private entities open to the general public, (and this includes websites), must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Failure to comply with the ADA can result in lawsuits, fines, and negative publicity.
It helps you avoid discrimination!
ADA compliance ensures that your website doesn’t discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Optics are huge for businesses, so you want to be ADA compliant. Plus, having a website everyone can access is the right thing to do.
It improves your SEO
ADA compliance best practices improve your SEO. These include writing descriptive and informative titles, adding alt text to images, and using proper heading tags.
Four elements of an ADA compliant website ️✅
An ADA compliant website is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
Perceivability means designing your website so that all your users can access its information, including text, images, audio, and videos.
Some examples of perceivability include adding closed captioning, ensuring that all text on your website contrasts well with the background, and using alternative text for images.
Make sure that the content on the website is easy to use by creating simple navigation menus and forms. This will help to facilitate operability.
All interactive elements, such as forms and buttons, should be accessible through keyboard shortcuts, and the website needs to be accessible through different browsers and devices.
Understandability ensures that all users can navigate a website easily and quickly utilize all available features.
You’ll want to use clear and concise language on your website, provide instructions for all website tools, provide a search feature to help users find the information they need, and clearly label all forms and inputs.
You may need to consult with an experienced web developer to adhere to ADA compliance standards.
All users should have equal access to the website’s content and features.
This means (1) avoiding the use of proprietary technologies that may not be accessible to all users, (2) providing an accessible version of all non-text content, such as PDFs and other documents, and (3) ensuring that your website is compatible with screen readers and voice recognition software.
Regular accessibility testing and audits will help your website remain ADA compliant.
Benefits of having an ADA compliant website
Having an ADA compliant website has several benefits.
1. You gain a wider audience
Having an ADA compliant website can have a positive impact on your business by opening it up to a wider audience.
2. You provide a better user experience
When your website is ADA compliant, it improves your website’s usability and user experience. People with disabilities will appreciate your efforts, as will regular users.
3. You protect your business
Staying ADA compliant helps protect your business from legal liabilities and bad reviews. The last thing you want is someone leaving you a bad review on Google because they are unable to use your website.
Even worse, you don’t want someone filing a lawsuit against you. If you have a small website, a lawsuit is less of a concern, but it’s still good to cover all angles.
Consequences of NOT having an ADA compliant website
Just to recap, the consequences of not having an ADA compliant website include:
- Legal issues
- Negative user experience
- Negative business reviews
- Negative publicity
- A limited audience.
Understanding Website Accessibility guidelines
Website accessibility guidelines are available to help you make your website ADA compliant.
Need help? Take a look at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which were created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to provide a path for making websites accessible.
Three levels 1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣
The WCAG is divided into three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA.
Level A of ADA compliance refers to the minimum level of accessibility that websites and other digital content should meet.
Level A requirements are considered the most essential, and failing to meet them can make it difficult, if not impossible, for people with disabilities to access and use the website.
Some examples of Level A ADA requirements for websites include: ️⚒️
Providing alternative text for all images and other non-text content.
Making sure all website functionality is accessible through a keyboard.
Ensuring that all website content is structured with headings and lists.
Ensuring that all forms are labeled correctly.
Providing captions and transcripts for all multimedia content.
Level AA of ADA compliance refers to the intermediate level of accessibility that websites and other digital content should meet.
Level AA requirements build upon the Level A requirements and provide additional accessibility features that make websites more usable and accessible for people with disabilities.
Some examples of Level AA ADA requirements for websites include: ️ ️⚒️
Providing high contrast between text and background colors.
Providing the ability to resize text up to 200% without loss of content or functionality.
Providing a skip navigation link to allow keyboard-only users to bypass repetitive navigation menus.
Ensuring that all website forms are designed to be easy to navigate and complete for people with disabilities.
Providing closed captions or audio descriptions for all pre-recorded multimedia content.
Aim for this
To make your website ADA compliant, it’s recommended that you aim for Level AA conformance.
This level of compliance also helps businesses and organizations comply with legal requirements related to web accessibility, such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.
Level AAA of ADA compliance refers to the highest level of accessibility that websites and other digital content should meet.
Level AAA requirements build upon the Level A and Level AA requirements and provide the most advanced and comprehensive accessibility features.
Some examples of Level AAA ADA requirements for websites include: ️ ️ ️⚒️
Providing sign language interpretation for all live multimedia content.
Providing a text-only option for all website content.
Providing content that can be accessed without requiring a specific sensory ability (such as providing a transcript for a video).
Ensuring that all website content can be navigated and operated using speech recognition software.
Providing a mechanism for users to easily adjust the line height and spacing of text.
ADA Compliance and color contrast
It’s important to ensure that the color contrast of your website’s content is high enough for individuals with visual impairments to read.
When designing a website, it can be easy to overlook this, but it’s a rather important aspect of remaining ADA compliant.
If you need an ADA compliant website, visit our Contact page to schedule an entirely free design consultation or call 702-268-9000.
Tools and resources for ADA Compliance
Making your website ADA compliant can be challenging, but there are several tools and resources available to help you.
AccessiBe is a web accessibility solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to make websites accessible to people with disabilities. It was founded in 2018 and has quickly gained popularity in the industry for its innovative approach.
One of the key benefits of AccessiBe is that it addresses a wide range of accessibility issues
For example, it includes a screen reader and text-to-speech capabilities, which are essential for users with visual impairments.
It also provides a virtual keyboard—no doubt a helpful feature for users with mobility impairments who may not be able to use a physical keyboard.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. AccessiBe is truly a leader in WCAG & ADA Compliance.
UserWay is a web accessibility solution that offers a plugin for website owners to improve their site’s accessibility for people with disabilities. It was founded in 2016 and has since become a popular choice among website owners looking to make their sites more inclusive.
The UserWay plugin works by adding a widget to the website that allows users to adjust the site’s settings to suit their individual needs.
Users can choose from a range of accessibility options, such as increasing font size, changing color contrast, and enabling keyboard navigation.
WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools ♂️ ♂️
WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools can help you identify accessibility issues on your website.
These tools provide detailed feedback about any web accessibility issues that are found.
The WebAIM website provides several resources for website accessibility, including a checklist for website accessibility and a guide for creating accessible web content.
Accessible Icon Project ♿
The Accessible Icon Project provides a free icon for use on your website to indicate that your website is accessible. This icon can help individuals with disabilities identify websites that are ADA compliant.
Testing your website for ADA Compliance
Once you have made changes to your website to make it ADA compliant, the next step is testing it.
Naturally, the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools can help you.
Find someone to test your website
It’s also important to have individuals with disabilities test your website to provide feedback on its accessibility. They will help you identify issues that are missed during the testing process.
Manual testing ⚒️
Don’t forget to conduct manual accessibility testing too. This involves manually testing your website’s accessibility using assistive technologies such as screen readers, magnification software, and keyboard-only navigation.
Although manual testing is important, remember that it’s a supplementary step. Finding someone with a disability to confirm your design is necessary.
Extra ADA Compliance resources
If you’re having trouble finding people with disabilities to test your website, some organizations offer programs that connect website owners with people with disabilities who can test their websites and provide feedback.
Here are some options.
The A11y Project is a community-driven effort to improve web accessibility. They offer an Accessibility Testing Service that connects website owners with testers who have disabilities.
Testers provide feedback on accessibility issues and suggest solutions for improvement.
Another example is the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) Challenge.
The GAAD Challenge is an annual event that takes place on the third Thursday of May. Website owners can submit their websites for accessibility testing by people with disabilities.
The goal of the challenge is to raise awareness of accessibility issues and promote the importance of web accessibility.
Hire a professional Web Accessibility consultant
There are many companies and individuals who understand accessibility in web design. They can provide a thorough evaluation of your website’s accessibility and provide guidance on how to improve it.
ADA Compliance and SEO
Making your website ADA compliant can also have a positive impact on your website’s SEO.
Google has stated that website accessibility is a ranking factor in its search engine algorithm. This means that ADA compliant websites will likely perform better on search engine results pages (SERPs) than websites that are not ADA compliant.
In addition, making your website ADA compliant can also improve your website’s user experience, resulting in increased traffic and lower bounce rates.
ADA compliance is essential for your website to ensure that it’s accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities.
To find out if we’re the right fit for you, see our Are We A Fit? page.
Still got questions? Find out what you should do before hiring a web designer.