It is time for companies to know what ADA compliance is and what it means for their websites.
The ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, has standards for accessible design. It has left many businesses wondering what ADA compliance is and how it can impact their websites. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice released these standards, requiring companies to maintain their sites while making them offer options for those with disabilities to access and use their site.
Resources, such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), help make websites accessible to every user anywhere. This is a proactive approach that also relies on ADA compliance services in order to promote the growth of a company. It can also show emphasis on their commitment to serve all users.
If you continue to read on, you will learn the meaning of ADA compliance, how to create a website that is ADA-Compliant, and whether or not you are affected by the accessibility standards of ADA.
ADA Compliance: What is it?
As we stated before, ADA compliance is a reference to the Standards for Accessible Design from the Americans with Disabilities Act. These standards state that your information technology and electronic technology must be usable by those who have disabilities. This isn’t similar to the 508 Compliance.
Who do the ADA requirements apply to?
If you are curious as to whether or not these ADA requirements apply to you, then satisfy that curiosity by reading on. Those who need to follow these standards are:
- Local and State Government Agencies
- Businesses that serve the Public
- Employers who are considered private with more than 15 employees
Electronic and Information technology, such as websites and the internet, are encompassed by the ADA. Because of this, almost all webmasters and businesses are impacted by these standards. It should be noted that those websites that are violating these requirements are not doing so intentionally. In most cases, they are unaware of the ADA compliance requirement.
Even if you are among those who are not required to follow the ADA compliance, your website should still be accessible to anyone that wishes to use it.
If Your Website isn’t ADA Compliant, What Happens?
Put simply, if your website doesn’t adhere to the ADA standards, you will be held liable.
You may be asking yourself, “Liable in what way?” Well, for starters, you could be the target of a lawsuit. Even if your intentions weren’t to discriminate against, or exclude, individuals with disabilities. If they cannot use your site, you could end up paying a large sum of money in the lawsuit.
The following questions are commonly asked, and we will be answering them:
- Who is affected by ADA compliance?
- What do I have to do to be compliant?
- What exactly is compliance on websites?
Though no compliance guidelines from the U.S Department of Justice have been released, they do provide several recommendations that your company should implement in order to make your website compliant.
What do I have to do to be Compliant?
Since we have covered what ADA compliance means, it is time to discuss what it takes to become compliant.
If you want to make your website ADA compliant, then all you have to do is follow the guidelines of WCAG 2.0. These guidelines outline many of the recommendations/goals for making your site accessible to all users in the United States.
WCAG Guidelines Include:
- Understandable- All users should have the ability to fully understand the content of your website. That basically means that users are able to understand all texts, videos, tools, and images that are found on your website. If your website explains how to use the tools or features, then those explanations should be clear to all users.
- Operable- The site must offer means to fully navigate it. You also need to make sure all features are operable by all users.
- Perceivable- All the information on your website should be perceivable to the users that visit it. If a user can’t read the text, watch, or listen to a video, then an alternate way of perceiving the website must be offered.
- Robust- The goal of a robust website is to provide the same experience for all users, even if assistive technology is required to navigate or use a website/tool.
That does leave you with the question of how these principles translate into ADA compliance?
For an easy-to-follow checklist of the compiled principles by the WCAG, keep reading!
There are three levels on the checklist:
- Level AAA- All users should be able to access your built website
- Level A.A.- Your Website should be built with accessibility to almost all users
- Level A- Only Some users can access your built website
Level A.A. is the recommended level for ADA compliance.
Becoming ADA compliant with Level AA WCAG 2.0 Guidelines
The rules we list below should be followed in order to start using the WCAG 2.0 guidelines in order to achieve ADA compliance.
Make sure that your videos offer captions. This can be done by using specific software or services.
All pre-recorded content should have audio description. This can be done by providing a link that redirects users to the audio of the content.
Your contrast ratio should be at the least 4.5:1 for images of text and text. Large text and images of large text are the exceptions. This also counts for logotypes, and incidental text/images.
With the exception of images of text and captions, all users should be able to resize the text without the use of assistive technology. The resize should extend up to 200% and must not result in a loss of functionality or content.
Images of Text
Unless the image is essential or users can customize it, you should make sure that you are avoiding the use of images that are primarily text. It is better to use a substitute like CSS. This can allow you to stylize text.
Excluding pages that are steps or results in a process, make sure that there are multiple ways for locating your website pages. An HTML sitemap, consistent navigation menu, and site search can aid you in accomplishing this.
Labels & Headings
Make sure all your labels and headings are descriptive and to the point. They should represent the purpose of your content and be very straightforward. All elements of a site should be labeled.
The keyboard focus indicator should be visible to all individuals who are using a keyboard to access your website.
Make sure that you are adding a language attribute to the website for any content that isn’t under the default language. For example, a site using Spanish may add an attribute for English.
Make sure that your navigation menu, or any other navigation tools, appear consistently on the website in the same location. This will prevent user confusion and boast easier accessibility.
If elements of a website have the same function, you need to name and label them. Your alt text should be identical for elements that operate the same way for the same purpose.
In the event of an input error, there should be suggestions offered to users.
All sites that generate a financial transaction, legal commitment, or modify/delete user-controlled data should be reversible. This goes for the submission of user test responses. They also need to be checked for errors, and prior to submission, they must be confirmed. If you are selling a product or service, make sure there is an order confirmation page.
If your website is built off WordPress, then you can obtain an ADA compliance plugin. This will streamline the process of compliance.