What does ADA compliant mean for websites? ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it was established in 1990 to ensure that those with disabilities be given equal chances as others. This is extremely important for websites to enforce. This means that your web page must be fully accessible to those with disabilities when it comes to content and function.
Any and all people must be able to fully navigate, engage with, and access content through your website. This law also is most commonly seen in public businesses, which makes sure that their buildings are accessible to disabled individuals by including ramps, for instance.
As you grow your business, website ADA compliance will be critical to avoid any lawsuits, penalties, or fines.
Continue reading to learn more and save yourself from damage to your brand reputation or any future misunderstandings.
What are ADA Compliant Websites?
ADA is a legal obligation particular business websites must follow. Title I and Title III of the ADA are the most common for small business owners.
Title I states that for any company that has 15 or more full-time employees and is open at least 20 weeks in the years must comply. So, if you only have 10 employees and operate 18 weeks in the year, then you’re off the hook.
Title III refers to “public accommodation” – that is businesses, such as hotels, schools, restaurants, bakeries, banks, etc.
Basically, if your business regularly offers service to the public, then you would be required to comply with the ADA. So, the ones that are exempt from this list would be private religious organizations or clubs.
To accommodate accordingly, the web designer must use technical and developmental strategies to ensure people with disabilities (including hearing, visual, physical impairments) can access it in a way that works for them. This might mean enforcing captions or transcripts for deaf individuals. It might also mean keeping a simple layout page for those who have ADHD or other learning difficulties. The truth is, there are no celar set of rules that websites must follow.
However, many people use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as a reference point.
The most recent version of WCAG is 2.1 provides the following takeaways:
Readability across devices has become increasingly more important. In addition, you want to check and see if your website can be understood by various assistive technologies.
Make your content clear with simple instructions and appropriate explanations. Be sure to check that the website functions in a flowy and expected manner. This might also mean including input assistance.
This is related to the senses people use when on the web (sight, sound, and touch). Not everyone has fully functioning sensory abilities, meaning they might be using assistive technology or audio alternatives when comprehending your text.
This has to do with the navigation and how the user can browse your webpage. For instance, keyboard accessibility is essential for those who have motor difficulties. Your website must use basic standards like HTML and CSS.
5 Reasons your Website should be ADA Compliant
ADA Compliance Expands your Target Audience
People with disabilities are customers. Once you cater to their abilities, you will inevitably be expanding your reach. Thus, accessible websites offer your business new demographics with huge buying powers.
There are approximately 50 million American with disabilities – many of whom might be highly interested in your product or service. However, if they are unable to navigate once they reach your webpage, you won’t be gaining that potential lead.
These new customers that you generate will likely speak highly of you given their ability to purchase with ease. Because they will be able to navigate your website easily, they will likely recommend it to others in their community. A public relations professional will very likely ensure their client’s website is ADA compatible to increase their digital reputation. ADA compatibility also leaves a positive impression on the user given that it shows company values.
By following the WCAG 2.1 guidelines mentioned earlier, you will ultimately be improving your SEO. This is because the more your website appeals to users, the higher it would rank on search engines. So, by including video transcripts and meta tagging, you will be enforcing accessibility and generating satisfied viewers.
Accessibility Decreases Bounce Rates and Increases Usability
Making your website accessible will benefit everyone who visits your page. It will help both disabled and non-disabled individuals find what they are looking for in a quick manner. This will lead to a decrease in bounce rates given that the user is able to navigate the content they need easily.
ADA will Help You Dominate your Niche
Imagine having to go through multiple websites to buy groceries online, and they are not providing proper accessibility to you. Suddenly, you reach a website that is ADA compliant and are able to order exactly what you are looking for.
In this scenario, the website that provides accessibility for online grocery shoppers is dominating the industry because they are serving a community that their competitors are ignoring. Setting yourself apart from competitors by being more inclusive is a great tactic to follow.
How to Make your Website ADA Compliant
Now it’s time to see how to make your website ADA compliant and gain all those benefits mentioned. These are just a few tips to consider:
Contrast Ratio and Color Scheme
Make the text readable by having the background color of the text contrast with the color of the letters. So, if you have a dark blue background, you wouldn’t want black text. Instead white or light beige colored text is better.
However, with that being said, do not rely on color only. Some users might be color blind and unable to tell the difference between green and red.
Provide Feedback for Errors
Give a warning sign to the user when they incorrectly or inadequately enter information. Give them explicit guidance on what to do. In doing so, you will avoid losing a possible lead while influencing accessibility.
You may also provide alternatives when errors occur. For instance, if the user cannot type in their name, maybe they can speak it so have multiple options available.
Clear Navigation and Search Tools
When you want to get from point X to point Y on a website, having a consistent and clear navigation is key. This means including a search bar tool and comprehensive headings all across web pages.
An organized layout will not change drastically from one web page to another, rather have a consistent theme.
Whether the user is on their phone or desktop, the website should adjust the size and view accordingly. In fact, this will also help your SEO because Google favors responsive designs.
You should also include the code language of the website in the H1 tag. That way, any assisting text readers would automatically recognize it and function accordingly.
Pay attention to having enough spacing between images and paragraphs in order to reduce clutter and make things as clear as possible – particularly because some users might have ADHD and find trouble navigating. Also a user might simply not have a lot of time and just want to skim and read through quickly.
Create Alt Tags
Alt tags will help those with disabilities be able to read alternative descriptions. Basically, alt tags describe the object or image in case the user cannot see it. Alt tags will also help with your SEO by including text that can be read by search engines (unlike images which cannot be read). This also means having readable fonts.
Text transcripts are crucial to have for any audio or audio visual elements you may have on your websites. If someone has a hearing impairment, you would be helping them out a lot by showing subtitles. This would even be useful for those who might not want to play the video out loud, again showing how catering to the disability also works in non-disabled individuals’ favor.
In general, this means offering multimedia options to your users, so that if one is not accessible the other is available.
Stay Up-To-Date with ADA
Keep in mind that the ADA is continuously evolving and improving. This is because new tech is being created to accommodate for those with disabilities, and your website should be continuously applicable to those features.
Also, don’t forget that liability that comes with non-compliance. In fact, ADA lawsuits have been on a steady rise over the past few years reaching a record high in 2019 when passing the 11,000 mark.
In case you need more guidance on how to make your website ADA compliant, be sure to reach out to SEO Design Chicago today. We have experts on web design and development to ensure that you meet all the ADA requirements. In addition, we will help bring your vision to life while making your business website as inclusive as possible!