Is your website following ADA compliance standards?
An ADA-compliant website will not only help protect your business against enforcements and fines but also provide accommodations needed for potential customers with disabilities.
It is time to find out what is ADA compliance and what does it mean for companies websites?
American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990. It guarantees people with disabilities the same right as everyone else to enjoy employment opportunities, purchase goods and services, and participate in state and local government programs.
The Act requires certain businesses to make specific accommodations for people with disabilities.
What is ADA website compliance?
ADA website compliance applies to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design.
In September 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design.
It requires that all electronic information and technology on your website to be accessible to those with disabilities.
What is ADA compliance testing?
ADA compliance testing ensures your website meets the guidelines set out in the Americans with Disability Act Standards for Accessible Web Design.
It helps you to identify whether your website is ADA compliant and if there are any improvements or changes you need to make in order to meet the standards.
Who needs to follow ADA requirements?
Employers, state and local governments, businesses that are open to the public, commercial facilities, transportation providers, and telecommunication companies all have to follow the requirements of the ADA.
Section of the ADA: Title I applies to employers who have 15 or more employees, including state/local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions.
Employers must provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the employment-related opportunities available to others.
State and Local Government Services
Section of the ADA: Title II applies to all services, programs, and activities of state and local governments, including public education, transportation, courts, voting, town meetings, etc.
State and local governments must provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services, and activities.
Businesses that are open to the public
Section of the ADA: Title III applies to businesses and nonprofits serving the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, private schools, etc.
What happens if your website isn’t ADA compliant?
Failure to comply with ADA requirements means you are liable to enforcements and could attract hefty fines.
You could also be asked to cough up large sums in terms of legal and settlement fees and shell out additional money to rebuild a compliant website.
You could lose customers for not making your website accessible to people with disabilities in the first place.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 61 million adults in the U.S currently live with some type of disability. That is a LOT of people potentially turned away due to lack of website accessibility.
How to Meet ADA website Compliance Standards?
In order to ensure your website complies with ADA standards, the first thing you need to do is make sure your website follows WCAG guidelines.
- Level A: Your website is accessible only to some users.
- Level AA: Your website is accessible to almost all users.
- Level AAA: Your website is accessible to all users.
The four core principles of WCAG are:
Perceivable: All users should be able to perceive all information including text, images and videos, etc.
Operable: All users should be able to navigate your website with ease and utilize all of its features and functionalities.
Understandable: All users need to be able to understand the context and features on your website, such as images, videos, forms, etc.
Robust: All users irrespective of their abilities must have the same user experience while navigating your site.
Is ADA compliance mandatory for my website?
At the moment, there are no clear website accessibility guidelines specified by the ADA.
Organizations are encouraged to use the WCAG 2.0 level AA guidelines as a guide on how to become accessible until the DOJ defines the regulations.
Many states have also adopted their own accessibility laws, and the volume of ADA web accessibility-related lawsuits has skyrocketed in recent years.
With no clearly defined regulations to follow, it is probably not worth it for most companies to gamble that a court will rule in their favor.
How to test your website for ADA compliance?
- Use free ADA Compliance testing tools like WAVE, WordPress ADA Compliance Plugin, etc.
- Conduct a manual audit and check the accessibility of your website based on the core WCAG principles – Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
- Hire a professional agency who can independently evaluate your website’s accessibility.
How to achieve ADA compliance by following WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines?
You must ensure your website and web content are accessible. It may seem like a lot of time and effort, but don’t panic. Here a few guidelines to keep in mind to ensure your site is accessible.
Captions and audio descriptions: Ensure all live videos on your website have captions and all pre-recorded media have audio descriptions.
Images: All images must have descriptive alternate text which convey the context of the images.
Contrast ratio: Ensure to maintain a text contrast ratio of 4:5:1.
Heading levels: Use proper heading tags and logical hierarchy to ensure the content is easy to follow.
Link text and buttons: Use descriptive link text to make it easier to navigate for users with screen readers. Make sure call-to-action buttons have unambiguous labels.
Accessible digital content: File formats like PDFs, Word, etc., must be uploaded in an accessible format on your website.
Forms: Online forms must have an accurate form field label, flow logically, and be accessible by keyboard.
Keyboard navigation: Make sure your website is navigable by keyboard-only to allow people with cognitive and motor disabilities to tab through the elements.
If you are a business owner, you are required to comply with ADA requirements as well as web content accessibility (WCAG) guidelines to make your web site accessible to all. This proactive approach will help you to not only grow your business but also emphasize your commitment to serving all customers equally.
Need help with ADA website compliance?
Achieving ADA website compliance can seem daunting, especially if it involves a complete overhaul of your website and web content. It is a crucial requirement that you cannot afford to ignore.
Our team of experienced digital accessibility professionals can help you create and maintain websites accessible to all.
Contact us at 1 (800) 769-9715 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about ADA compliance for websites and web content.