What do The Wall Street Journal, Hershey’s, and Amazon all have in common? They have all gotten sued over the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and website accessibility. Just in 2018, over 200 different lawsuits were filed, which was an increase of 177% from the previous year, and it showed that ADA compliance is essential and should get focused on.
If you are now asking yourself if you have an ADA compliant website, then this article can help. You should keep reading to learn if the ADA applies to your website, and learn how to check if it is compliant and to make it compliant.
When you meet the standards that are set by the ADA’s Standards for Accessible Design, then you are being ADA compliant. It is something that will cover the accessibility of information technology and electronic technology such as websites and the internet instead of physical locations.
The Affected of ADA Compliance
- Companies operating for the public
- Private employers with more than 15 employees
- Local and state agencies
Almost every single business will need to follow the ADA.
Even if the ADA does not apply to your business, then you should still make it part of your business operation. You will want to provide all people with the same type of experience and accessibility level.
ADA Compliance for Websites
ADA compliance means that it does include information and electronic technology such as a website. If the ADA applies to your company, and you have a website, then you have to make the website accessible to every person.
When you do not have a compliant site, it can be an issue. If your site does not meet the standards of the ADA, then you can end up with fines or a massive lawsuit. Some first-time violations end up with a $75,000 fine, and if you have repeat violations, then you can get fines over $150,000. If you get federally funded, then you can lose your funding.
It doesn’t matter if it is the customers or your company; you cannot afford just to ignore ADA compliance. If your business can afford a fine like that, you can’t worry about damaging your brand. When people see that you do not care about serving people with disabilities, then it impacts future purchase decisions and opinions.
Checking for ADA Compliance
There are several ways you can assess whether your website meets ADA requirements, including:
Use Free Tools
Companies can choose from many free ADA compliance checker tools such as Lighthouse and WAVE and which can check the color contrast of your website, text size, image replacement text, and whatnot. However, the disadvantage is that these tools can only analyze one page at a time, not the entire site.
However, these are not your only options.
The W3C or World Wide Web Consortium maintains an extensive list of web accessibility assessment tools. If you want to check whether your site complies with ADA regulations, you can find tools you can use here. You can also use programs dedicated to these issues to check for specific ADA compliance issues, such as color contrast.
If you have a WordPress website, you can even install an ADA compliance plugin.
You can also check whether your website is ADA-compliant by manual review.
A manual review involves using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to assess the accessibility of each page of the site. WCAG contains a large number of checklists, but this is the basis for ADA compliance.
Even if you use tools like WAVE, it will evaluate and rank your website according to WCAG.
WCAG focuses on four basic principles, which can get broken down into actionable items:
Robustness: ADA-compliant websites must provide the same experience for all site visitors. For example, if you create a video logbook, the logbook should include the entire video and bits and pieces.
Understandable: No one should understand your website and its content. For example, adding instructions on how to use the tool can help everyone use your site and its features.
Actionable: All website visitors should be able to browse your website and use its features. For example, no one will encounter problems when using the main navigation bar, search bar, or other tools (such as a calculator).
Perceivable: Everyone who visits your website should have the ability to perceive all its information, such as text, images, and videos, directly or through other means (such as video transcripts).
In most cases, manual audits are impractical for companies, especially when you consider the consequences of not meeting ADA standards. Use tools or conduct professional audits to ensure that your business has the best plan to meet ADA requirements.
Require Professional Assessment
If you are wanting to check to see if your website meets the ADA requirements, a professional ADA audit is another option.
With a professional review, you can hire someone (usually an agent) to evaluate the accessibility of your website. They will evaluate your website through WCAG and provide a suggested plan to make your website ADA-compliant.
Depending on the agency, they will also have the function of implementing this plan.
Whether to invest in a professional audit depends on your business. For example, if you don’t have time or are not satisfied with the review site, you can hire an agent to let them do the work.
3 ADA Compliance Options for Your Site
Just like reviewing your site, you have several options when creating an ADA-compatible website:
- Use Agencies that Specialize in ADA Compliance
For most companies, the easiest option is to find an agency that is ADA compliant. When you go through a professional agency for web design, then you are going to get a trustworthy and fast solution to update your website. There is not need to worry about having to build an internal team for the project, and you don’t have to worry about spending time or even completing the project.
Instead, you can outsource tasks to trusted partners.
Although cost is a factor that every company should consider when considering hiring an agent, you must also consider the return on investment (ROI). If there is no ADA-compliant website, your business will face severe fines and lawsuits. An ADA-compliant web design agency can help you eliminate this risk.
- Build ADA Compliant Sites with Your Company
Companies can also choose to create ADA-compliant websites internally. If your business has the resources and talents, you can establish a design and development team to review the site and ensure compliance with ADA standards. This option often requires more requirements from your organization, which is why it is not a typical solution.
If you want to lead an ADA-compliant project, remember to follow the following core WCAG standards:
- Use correct HTML
- Disable automatic playback of audio and video
- Include subtitles in all your website videos
- Provides easily accessible transcripts of audio and video content
- Add alternative text in pictures, reviews, videos, and controls
You can view the complete WCAG checklist to learn more about making the website ADA compatible.
Use ADA Compliant Plugins if Using WordPress
Suppose you have a WordPress website, then you have a simple way to become ADA compliant. When you are using WordPress, there are options to install ADA compliant plugins such as WP Accessibility Helper and Accessibility Suite. A plugin like these can help to monitor your website and add any tools that are needed to make your site much more accessible.
Before installing the plugin, please research it’s the cost, the features, and any reviews. That is something that you can do to select the right one for your business.
Internally Making ADA Compliant Sites
If you are looking to make your site ADA compliant, then use the WCAG list:
Support future and current users, and add assistive technology:
- Ensure to use the right markup and HTML languages
Publish understandable and readable content:
- Ensure to use HTML to add language codes for the page
Make foreground information distinguishable from background information:
- All the background to get customized with text size, text spacing, foreground colors, and background colors
- Make foreground noises 20 decibels higher than background noises
- Remove background noise from any audio
- Install a feature that will turn off background audio that plays automatically
- Have a luminosity contrast ratio of 10:1
Make sure the content is accessible:
- Meet all guidelines for helping users avoid content that could cause seizures
- Allow users to leave and visit content through keyboard functions
Allow functions on your site to be accessed with a keyboard:
- Remove instances that require devices besides a keyboard
- Disable features that use timed keystrokes
Provide alternative text for non-text content:
- Add a name to the control, such as “Order.”
- Allow assistive technology to ignore decorative non-text content
- Add alternative text to images, audio, and video
Give time limit controls to users
- Provide all users with the options to disable, adjust or extend time limits, except for any real-time events
- Allow delayed update frequency
- Allow pausing for animated or moving text
Provide multimedia alternatives:
- Upload transcripts of audio and video content
- Place or link transcripts near audio or video content
- Audio track and audio description of the recorded video
- Add subtitles to the video
- Provide multimedia sign language interpretation
Provide options to help users avoid seizure causing content
- Delete content that flashes more than three times per second.
- Add user controls to move, blink, scroll or automatically update content
- Remove pop-up windows
Allow separation of information and structure:
- Use correct and valid HTML
- Add easy-to-understand labels to the form
- Organize content and divide it into sub-headings
- Ensure that any information with color is visually colorless
- Prevent the understanding of the content from relying on the shape, size, or location of the content
Help users avoid and correct mistakes
- Allow elements such as forms to find input errors
- Provide text suggestions to communicate errors
- Allow users to undo changes and correct errors
- Use confirmation pages to aggregate user input and website output
- Make content placement and functionality predictable
- Follow the logical order of content and elements
- Write relevant titles for the content
- Delete idioms and jargon
- Explain abbreviations
- Add images or diagrams to illustrate the content
- Write the phonetic pronunciation of the word or link to the pronunciation guide
- Provide users with ways to find, use and navigate content
- Add a “skip to content” link and make it visible
Upload HTML site map
- Allow website search
- Establish a logical navigation menu
- Make the navigation menu consistent throughout the site
- Use breadcrumbs to navigate
- Save user data, such as their shopping cart