Many people know that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is often associated with physical locations and accommodations. It means wheelchair accessibility, access to service animals, and the use of Braille for people who are visually impaired. But the ADA requires businesses to ensure web content is accessible to all users.
What does ada compliant website mean? How to make your business website accessible?
The problem for website owners
Certainly, we think that is important to create a website accessible to all users. We are resolutely opposed to any form of discrimination.
But there are no clear ADA regulations that spell out exactly what compliant web content is. Some businessmen don’t even know about this law.
Since the ADA is a strict liability law, you cannot use any excuses for violations like ignorance or “our web developer is working on it.” Lawyers continue to file ADA lawsuits. So, you may have financial penalties and loss of business reputation.
Unfortunately, there are no completely instant solutions, like plugins for website accessibility.
What will you need to build an ADA-compliant website if there isn’t a clear definition of what that means?
You can take a few actions to set you on the right path toward ADA compliance. At least these actions will help you demonstrate that your business has made enough effort toward accommodation, should you ever wind up in court.
These activities can save you thousands of dollars. Average financial penalties about 5,000 USD. Other financial penalties businessman will pay are attorneys’ fees, which can be tens of thousands of dollars
What is ADA website compliance?
Many people ask “Does every website need to be ADA compliant?” The answer is yes.
Technically, website accessibility means ensuring that individuals who are visually impaired or hearing-impaired or those who must navigate by voice are able meaningfully to engage with the content on your website.
Lawyers and USA courts reference WCAG 2.0 AA as the standard to assess the accessibility of websites or, as the lawyers say, does your website provide effective communication in legal terms.
So, your website ideally needs to meet all 38 of those criteria in WCAG 2.0 AA to avoid legal action. But, even if your website don’t meet all 38 criteria, your website can still be accessible because you have flexibility in determining how to make your website compliant with the ADA requirements.
Unfortunately, WCAG 2.0 AA is not the law. That is why this technical guide is a difficult document that can be hazy or outright difficult to understand for a common person. Also,
WCAG 2.0 AA is an imperfect standard that cannot take into account all specific things on websites.
We’ve studied several cases, information from the Section508.gov blog to make some recommendations as to how to implement ADA website compliance for you.
How to make a website ADA compliant
There are crucial actions that you have to take.
Bonus: some actions can improve your website visibility for search engines.
Use alternate text
You can do it by yourself. Began from a home page and the most popular pages on your website. Check your landing pages with Google Analytics or Google Search Console reports. You need to create a quality alternate text for images.
Video and Audio
Create text transcriptions for video and audio. Label and link transcripts below the media. For any video, add an alternative video that includes an audio description of information not presented in the original video’s soundtrack for people who can’t see video or text.
Any audio on your website must be able to be paused, stopped, or muted.
Avoid using images of text (except in some cases, such as logo or trademarks).
Use color contrast between text and its background.
Create a consistent, well-organized layout. Menus, links, and buttons should be organized in such a way that they are clearly delineated from one another.
Use proper markup techniques to structure your website’s content. Use correct HTML tags. Make sure HTML code is clean and free of errors.
Each page of a website needs to have a unique and descriptive page title.
Use multiple ways to access different pages/information on a website. That is why you need simple and logical information architecture of a website. Unfortunately, this is not always possible for large ecommerce or corporate websites.
Set the language for your website. Use indicators for any language changes.
Allow people to control your website
All content and functions on a website must be accessible by keyboard only. So, users must never get stuck on any part of the website. For users’ convenience, use a focus indicator that helps people understand on which element they focus or was selected by them.
Allow people to control any time limits on a website. Also allow people to pause, stop, or hide the content that blinks, scrolls, and moves.
Disable anything that flashes more than three times in any one second period.
These requirements can be difficult to implement for some websites. You need to remember about flexibility in determining how to make your website compliant with the ADA. Or, you may need a good lawyer.
In any case, you need an experienced web developer to implement these requirements.
A user must actively choose to activate an item before a change takes place. Don’t use auto submit once all fields are filled.
Because the ADA compliance website is a hot topic and many businessmen are being sued, you can face some problems. From the experience of our clients, we must give you additional recommendations.
First, we recommend you get a quality web developer to work on your website for $20-$25/hr.
The cheapest option is to hire a freelancer. But, you may hire someone who doesn’t actually have the knowledge or the experience for this work. You risk having your website fraught with errors.
Web developers from a web agency are a little bit expensive, but low-risk.
We know that during the project many things can go wrong. A web agency has the resources to handle all troubles. So, you need to make a choice between cost and confidence.
If you have a simple WordPress website without extended functionality, you can use the WordPress “Accessibility Ready” theme. But this option won’t be available if you want to use a custom design.
Avoid services and consultants that promise to make your website ADA compliant. Often they use automated audits or scans or monitoring. You will get a report (for 500 to 3000 USD or even more) and need to search for a web developer, who can implement the “recommendations”.
We repeat our first additional recommendation: get a quality web developer. Many web agencies have some experience with making websites ADA compliant. So, you will get experts who can check your website manually and implement all requirements without bugs.
We hope you got useful information and now you know what you need to do next.
In any case, having websites ADA compliant is important. It allows you to improve your website, make it SEO friendly, attract more visitors, and make more money.
It is better than risking the cost of lawyers and other financial penalties.