What does ADA compliance mean? And what is ADA compliance for websites? If you don’t know already, it’s time to learn all about it.
The U.S. Department of Justice released the The Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design in 2010. That means that it is mandatory for companies to have and maintain websites that anyone with a disability can use.
It is important for every business to have a website that is accessible for everyone everywhere. In this article, we will discuss the meaning of ADA compliance, help you figure out if ADA accessible standards affect your website, and how to make sure your website is ADA-compliant. If you need help making your website ADA compliant, contact us at SEO Design Chicago today.
What Does ADA Compliance Mean?
The Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design states that all electronic and information technology (for example, a website) needs to be accessible for people with disabilities. If your site is accessible for everyone, then it is ADA compliant. ADA compliance is not the same as 508 compliance.
Who Needs to Follow ADA Requirements?
Does ADA compliance apply to your website? The following are some organizations that are required to adhere with ADA requirements:
- Government agencies, both state and local;
- Private employers that have at least 15 employees; and
- Any business that operates for the benefit of the public.
ADA compliance affects nearly every business and website, because the ADA includes all electronic and information technology.
Even if you are not included in one of those categories, it is still important to build a website for everyone to access and use.
Why Is It Important to Have an ADA Compliant Site?
Many times, when a website is not ADA compliant, it is not intentional. Usually, the company simply does not know about the standards. However, if your site isn’t ADA compliant, you’re still liable. If people with disabilities can’t access or use your site, it could result in a lawsuit being filed against your company. It doesn’t matter if your company didn’t intend to discriminate or exclude anyone. It could still mean that you could pay thousands of dollars in lawsuits. That’s why it’s important to be ADA compliant.
The U.S. Department of Justice has provided recommendations on how to achieve ADA compliance for a website. It is important to follow their recommendations.
How Do I Make My Website ADA Compliant?
Next, we will tell you how to make sure your website is ADA compliant. These recommendations come from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This website lists several ways to make your site ADA compliant for everyone across the U.S. Your website should follow these basic principles:
It’s important that users can perceive all of the content on your website, like the text, images, and video. Make sure to include an alternative in case a user isn’t able to see the words on your website or listen to a video.
Your website’s users need to be able to easily maneuver your site and use all of its features. For example, any user should be able to use your site’s navigation menu and any tools on your site.
Any user who arrives to your website should be able to understand its content. So, any user should be able to understand the site’s text, images, videos, and tools.
All users of your website should have the same experience. Even if a user is using assistive technology like a voice reader, that person should get the same content as someone reading the actual text on your site. (Even if the content is delivered differently.)
Next, you will learn how to apply these principles to your website to make sure it’s ADA compliant.
How to Use the WCAG 2.0 Level AA Guidelines
The WCAG took the principles we just discussed and put them into a checklist for you to follow to make sure your website is ADA compliant. There are levels of the checklist:
- Level A: A Level A website is one that some users can access.
- Level AA: A Level AA website is one that almost all users can access.
- Level AAA: A Level AAA website is one that all users can access.
Most organizations recommend meeting the requirements of a Level AA website in order to become ADA compliant. Here is how you can follow the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines to become ADA compliant:
Make sure to provide captions for all the live videos on your site. There is software you can use that will add captions to your videos for you, or you can use a professional service.
Add Audio Descriptions
Also, make sure to provide audio descriptions for all pre-recorded content on your website. Also, you can add a link near the content that takes users to the audio description.
It’s important to maintain a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for text and images of text. However, exceptions can be made for large text, images of large text, logotypes, or incidental text.
Offer Text Resizing
Make sure to allow your users to resize text on your website up to 200 percent. They need to be able to do so without any assistive technology, and the resize must not cause a loss of content or any site function. However, you do not need to add this resizing feature to captions or images of text.
Avoid Images of Text
Try to avoid using images that feature mostly text, unless it’s necessary or your users can customize the image. If you still want to use these types of images (for example, a pull quote), substitute them using CSS.
Offer Navigation Options
It’s important to offer users more than one way to find a page on your website, unless that page is a step in a process, like checking out. To do this, make sure to add an HTML sitemap, site search, and a navigation menu to your site.
Headings and Labels
Make sure to use headings or labels to describe the purpose of your content. Your labels and headings should be clear, detailed, and straight to the point. Also, be sure to label all your site elements, for example, a contact form or a table with prices.
Keyboard Focus Indicator
Anyone who uses a keyboard to use your site should be able to see the keyboard focus indicator (the outline that appears on a form field) on all your site’s elements like links, form fields, and menus. You can use CSS to add this feature to your site.
If there is any text on your website that is not in your default language, make sure to add a language attribute to that page. For example, if your website is in English, but there is one page with content in Spanish, make sure to add a language attribute for that page.
Make sure to give users a consistent navigation location. For example, your navigation menu should always be in the same place on every web page, perhaps the upper right-hand side.
It’s important to have consistent identification for all site elements with the same function. Make sure to label and name each element, then use the same alt text for other site elements with the same purpose.
If a user makes an error when inputting information on your website, make sure the site offers the user a suggestion for how to fix it.
Make sure that all pages that generate legal commitments, include financial transactions, or modify or delete user-controlled data are reversible, checked for errors, and confirmed before they are submitted. For example, add an order confirmation page for users, or allow them to cancel orders within a certain time frame.
If you complete these tasks for your website, you’re on your way towards ADA compliance. Do you have a WordPress site? Good news: you can make this process even easier by adding an ADA compliance plugin.
Do You Need Help Becoming ADA Compliant?
It is difficult to make sure your website is ADA compliant on your own, especially if you don’t have a web development team. However, it is important to become ADA compliant in order to make your website accessible for everyone (and to avoid legal fees that could cost your company thousands of dollars.) If you need help making your website ADA compliant, contact SEO Design Chicago today!
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