It seems like ADA compliant websites are a new reality. For those who don’t know, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) represent this standard. It is often associated with many physical locations and accommodations that businesses must adopt so that people with disabilities can see their websites. This is why ADA compliant website design is getting popular nowadays, and why everyone should learn more about it.
Some of the questions you might have at this point include:
• Is my website ADA compliant?
• What does an ADA compliant website cost?
• What does an ADA compliant website look like?
• Are there any clear regulations and ADA requirements for websites?
• How can one develop an ADA compliant website?
The best way to get answers to all of these questions is by reading the sections below.
What Is ADA Compliance?
As we said before, ADA is an act which passed in 1990. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and makes sure that everyone has the same rights and opportunities when looking at a website.
So, ADA compliant websites need to be present in all sectors, whether websites are managed by public institutions or private entities open to the public. In 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design was passed. With this, the law requires all electronic and information technology entities (like websites) to be accessible for people with disabilities such as vision impairment and hearing loss.
ADA Compliant Website Checklist: Are There Any Guidelines?
Even though there are some unclear rules for designing an ADA accessible website, businesses should still provide an accessible virtual presence that accommodates all users with disabilities.
Here’s what we know in terms of what websites need to be compliant as of now:
• If you are a business benefiting the public
• If you are a local, state, or government agency
• If you are a private employer with 15 or more employees
You should follow ADA website compliance guidelines to be considered compliant with current ADA regulations.
As some attorneys note, “there is no federal direction” on how to make your website ADA compliant or any ADA compliance website test, you can check out online. However, what we know and are set as a legal requirement is the WCAG set of rules, explained below.
WCAG (Guidelines) For People With Disabilities
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are not a legal requirement, but a common reference point for all businesses looking to improve their digital accessibility. In that manner, there are currently three versions of WCAG (1.0, 2.0, and 2.1).
While the WCAG Version 2.0 replaced the WCAG Version 1.0, the brand new 2.1 Version is an extension of the former. There are three levels of conformance, including A (bare minimum level of accessibility), AA (target level of accessibility meeting legal requirements), and AAA (exceeds accessibility requirements).
Under the latest WCAG Version 2.1 guidelines, we can see that to have an ADA compliance website design; your website needs to be:
• Perceivable – Your site’s content should offer alternatives to text or assistive technology, helping sight-impaired individuals.
• Operable – This guideline is set in terms of navigation, making sure that disabled people can access your website and content with various keyboard options.
• Understandable – Your content should be easy to understand, readable and predictable, with some input assistance if needed.
• Robust – Essentially, you need to have content that is read by various devices and platforms (especially ones for people who use assistive technologies).
If you can meet all of these standards, it is safe to say that you have passed most ADA guidelines for websites that are present now. More importantly, your website will be accessible to people with vision/hearing disabilities and or cognitive, language, or learning disabilities.
What do the ADA compliance requirements say about websites?
Known as a complicated and often consuming story, the relationship between ADA and websites does not explicitly address online compliance. Title III of the ADA requires that every owner, lessor, or operator of a “place of public accommodation” provide equal access to all people who are meeting ADA standards for disability.
How To Design an ADA Compliant Website?
Knowing that the ADA requirements for websites are not as easy to follow as they sound, every business should be open to new opportunities and professionals in the field of ADA compliance website design.
For many, common sense indicates that a website should have certain technologies like audio (for those who are vision-impaired) where voice reads the text on the screen back to the web visitor.
Having an ADA accessible website is vital nowadays. There are requirements for federal websites, and they are also expected to be present for all private websites owned by individuals or businesses.
Below, we share some of the common ways businesses ensure their website is accessible, and people with disabilities can read their web content.
ADA Compliant Website Checklist
- Alt tags for all images, videos, and audio files – Alt tags are words that allow users with disabilities to read or hear alternative descriptions of some content that they are unable to view. They describe the objects in an image or video and the purpose they serve on the website.
- Proper markup techniques for structuring content – Elements such as the correct heading tags and HTML for ordered and unordered lists can also help you get an ADA compliant website. The content should always be presented in a meaningful order and sequence, and it must read properly.
- Elements’ color – The use of one color should be avoided, and there must be a color contrast ratio of at least 4:5:1 between the text and background.
- Elements’ size – Like color, your elements and text need to come in different sizes – text must support resizing up to 200% without causing problems for people trying to read it.
- Text transcripts for audio/video content – ADA compliant websites have text transcripts that help hearing-impaired users access content that would otherwise be inaccessible.
- Language on-site – You should make it clear what language your site is written. This helps users who utilize text readers to translate better or hear the text that is present on your website.
- Alternatives for input errors – The ADA requirements for websites suggest that users can encounter input errors because of their need to navigate the website differently. In such cases, you should learn how to design an ADA compliant website and offer recommendations to your visitors.
- Consistency in layout – Your website layout should be consistent. This means that all of your menus, links, and buttons should be organized so that they are clearly moved away from one another and easily navigated throughout the site.
If you are still unsure how you can make your website ADA compliant, you can consult with an attorney who specializes in disability law or get an ADA compliant website cost from a professional agency with experience in designing similar websites.
For businesses that are ready to make these changes to their websites, reading the ADA requirements for companies and detailed guidelines is necessary.
‘What If I Don’t Design An ADA Accessible Website?’
Businesses without ADA compliant websites will be put in the “failure to comply” category, which means that they could receive lawsuits moving forward. Some sources say that depending on the state, a fine for this can reach a sum of up to $150,000.
Reports show that from 2017/2018, the number of lawsuits for ADA website compliance increased by 177%, and there have been more than 2,258 filed in 2018 alone, which is up from the 814 in 2017. Even though California, New York, and Florida are dubbed as the busiest jurisdictions for cases like these, even fourteen other states are making the charts, including Texas, California, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Illinois,
However, the essential point here is that without ADA compliance for websites, businesses may lose on many customers. Furthermore, ADA compliant websites are indexed and crawled by search engines more quickly, increasing their position in the rankings and getting the entire content in front of every user.
Don’t Fall in A Trap: Complying with ADA Means Complying with The Law.
Since ADA was brought to users by the public, complying with it means complying with the law. In times when many companies see this form of compliance as a trend, our most honest advice is not to waste your money installing a plugin or add-on as a solution to making your website accessible.
It is up to you to find out if your website is ADA compliant.
Explore Our Affordable ADA Compliance Website Design Services
At Devine Solutions Group, we completely understand how vital ADA website compliance is. We also know that there is absolutely no reason for you to spend money on toolbars, plugins, and add-ons that are “say” they are guaranteed to produce ADA compliant websites.
Instead, our Tracy, CA digital agency has a solution to support the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is already available for our clients. While some of you may see ADA as a loophole in the law, the smartest decision you can do is take advantage of it and make your website ADA compliant before it is too late.
We are listing the five most significant reasons why your website should be ADA compliant:
- Increase your target audience and receive more website traffic
- Rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs)
Increase SEO results
- Improve your online reputation
- Achieve better visibility
- Avoid costly penalties
Wondering what to do next?
Contact us today. We will conduct an ADA website compliance audit and show you where you are at risk.
Making the most of having an ADA compliant website for your business can give you a real competitive advantage.
Beth Devine is one of the most sought-after marketing experts in the Central Valley. She is the founder and principal of Devine Solutions Group, an award-winning digital marketing and business development agency headquartered in Tracy, CA. Connect with Beth by either calling 833-933-8463 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.