How Do I Make a Website ADA Compliant? Follow Our Checklist.

ADA Compliance Website

ADA Compliant Website

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law 30 years ago and prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation. This also includes the internet, and in 2019, there were 2,256 ADA website-accessibility lawsuits filed in federal courts. The U.S. Department of Justice has the ability to file lawsuits on behalf of people with disabilities for violations of the ADA.

Nowadays, there is no excuse to not build a website that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many website owners are already blazing new trails in making websites more accommodating and providing better experiences for users. It’s imperative for all website owners to keep up with current rules and trends that can make a significant difference in their company and in a relationship with their users. It’s the only way to stay competitive in a world where users are becoming far more conscious of equality, and they have no qualms about openly critiquing a company for not providing adequate accommodations to people with disabilities.

ADA Compliance

Web Accessibility

Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a greater number of people are able to enjoy using the internet despite having deafness, blindness, or other disabilities. In fact, due to intense efforts on the part of multiple web development companies, technology has changed to empower students to graduate from some of the country’s top universities despite having severe disabilities. Using assistive listening devices that comply with the ADA, for example, has helped students with deafness to graduate from Harvard Law School and other top institutions. Title III of the ADA requires educational institutions to comply with accessibility standards. 

How can you know if your website meets the compliance standards set forth by the ADA? The United States Government adopted the accessibility standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. This act outlines standards for the accessibility of information technology, including the internet. In addition, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that establish success criteria for website accessibility. The first version of these was released in 1990 and is now commonly referred to as WCAG 1.0. In 2008, W3C released the WCAG 2.0, which gave clarification to the earlier standards. In 2018, W3C published WCAG 2.1. The good news for companies seeking ADA compliance for websites is that the sites that conform with the WCAG 1.0 standards are easily upgraded to the most current version. In order to make sure that your website is compliant, we will evaluate it here at On The Map Marketing based on the accessible website guidelines. There are three categories that correlate to the different levels of accessibility:

There are three categories that correlate to the different levels of accessibility:

  •  Level A:

    Level A:

    This website has the most basic web accessibility features. There may be gaps where some accessibility measures could’ve been taken.

  •  Level AA:

    Level AA:

    This is a website that has solutions for the most common barriers that disable people from using the internet.

  •  Level AAA:

    Level AAA:

    This is an extremely high level of web accessibility that is often hard for companies to achieve.

WCAG Principles

There are four underlying principles to the ADA website compliance guidelines that are outlined in WCAG 2.0. Websites should be:

Perceivable

You’ve probably heard of the philosophical question “if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound if nobody hears it?” It’s the same concept as a website. If a person cannot perceive the auditory or visual information on a website, then is the website really there? It should take neither squinting nor third-party technology in order to perceive all content on your website.

Operable

Does your website require the use of a less-common piece of technology or hardware, such as a joystick or a microphone? Can someone use your website and input information, or even make a purchase, without the use of a keyboard or a mouse? Users with physical disabilities will have more difficulty with using your website if it requires using certain technology and if your website is not optimized to work with assistive technology.

Understandable

Even if someone can perceive your website, that doesn’t mean that they can understand it. If a person can perceive that there’s text on a page, but it is so poorly written, then the website is just as useless as if the content weren’t perceivable.

Robust

Have you ever visited a website that popped up a warning you were not using the latest web browser and needed to upgrade before using it? This could be very frustrating especially for someone using an older platform, browser, device, or operating system. Although website owners are not expected to create websites that are compatible with the oldest versions, they should not require the newest.

ADA Website Compliance Checklist

Here is an ADA compliance checklist for websites that should help you determine whether your site would be considered a place of public accommodation for users with disabilities. This can also be used as a guideline for how to make a website ADA compliant.

ADA Compliance Checklist for Your Website

Website Text

  • Headers and Titles

    Headers and titles are concise, simple, relevant, and adequately describe the content on the webpage. All site elements should be labeled, such as “contact form.”

  • Text Contrast

    There’s at least a 4.5:1 color contrast between text and its background.

  • Text Size

    Text can be resized to 200% and still maintain its form.

  • Anchor Text

    Anchor text is clear in what the link will go to (i.e. avoid “click here”).

  • Colored Text

    Web page doesn’t rely on color to convey information. Use features like bold, italics, and bulleted lists to differentiate information.

Visual and Audio Content

  • Avoid Triggering Visuals

    No strobe effect or flashes of more than 3 times in any one second period

  • Captions

    All live and recorded video and audio content has captions.

  • Video and Audio Alternatives

    All video and audio content should has text transcripts.

  • Pause, Stop, and Hide Functions

    Web pages with content that blinks or moves can be paused, stopped, or hidden.

  • Visual Control

    In a slideshow or video, users can pause or adjust the timing.

  • Tables

    Tables have proper column headers and cell information.

Coding

  • Alt Text

    Every piece of visual information such as icons, buttons, sketches, banners, and photos has alt text.

  • Language

    The page language is identified in code with any language changes.

Website Interface and Navigation

  • Compatibility With Assistive Technologies

    Website is compatible with screen readers and optimized to work with assistive technologies.

  • Keyboard Only

    Website can be fully accessed with a keyboard or keyboard equivalents only. Users don’t have to rely on a mouse.

  • Consistent Page Structure

    Navigation, menus, and buttons are in consistent places across all web pages.

  • Hierarchical Structure

    Website information is presented in a logical and sequential order.

  • User Information Input

    Pages involving financial transactions, legal forms, or other important information have submissions that are reversible, correctable, and can be reviewed.

  • Error Fixes

    If a user makes an input error, there is a suggestion on how to solve it.

Have a question about ADA compliance?

Benefits of Website Accessibility for Your Clients

Accessibility Benefit

Making your website accessible doesn’t only help people who have disabilities. A more accessible site can be a boon to those who have undergone surgery on their eyes or ears, have been involved in a car accident, or who are otherwise temporarily disabled. The reality is that anyone can experience a temporary disability, but life isn’t going to stop or even slow down when the temporary disability affects that person. Knowing that their favorite online retailer, university program, or company website will still be accessible to them can put them at ease.

Accessibility Perspective

When a prospective customer finds that a company has already considered their temporary or permanent disability in their website design, it generates an enormous amount of goodwill. So, in addition to avoiding litigation through the Department of Justice or private attorneys for failure to provide public accommodations, having an equal-access website is good for business. Once your website is accessible to users with disabilities, you should consider adding an accessibility statement to your site to promote it. If this all sounds great — and it should — the next step is to ensure that you are meeting all of the criteria to make your website ADA compliant.

Frequently Asked Questions About Website Accessibility

  • Does ADA compliance refer to my business?

    ADA compliance applies to the following businesses: 

    • State government agencies
    • Local government agencies
    • Private employers with 15 or more employees
    • Companies operating for the benefit of the general public

    Even if your company doesn’t fall within the parameters set by the ADA, it’s still important for your website to meet the standards of the ADA because you want to make your site accessible to all individuals. By making your website ADA compliant, you give yourself the opportunity to meet the needs of all consumers, practice equality, and generate more leads for your business. 

  • Facebook, Dominos, Uber, and Winn Dixie, to name a few, are major corporations that have been sued for not having a website compliant with the standards outlined by the ADA. If your website fails to meet ADA standards, then you run the risk of being sued, having to pay court fees, and being forced to pay fines. Federally funded organizations can lose money and fines can be anywhere between $55,000-$150,000, depending on the number of offenses. 

    It’s possible that your business can afford to pay those fines, but the bad press from the lawsuit can damage your business’s branding. You don’t want to be known as the business that doesn’t care about people with disabilities, and this will negatively affect whether or not people use your business’ products or services.

  • There is more than one way to determine if your website is ADA compliant. Check the following options to determine which method is right for your business:

    Free Compliance Checkers

    Companies like the Web Accessibility Initiative can check for compliance on your website. These companies look at your website to determine if they are in congruence with the ADA standards. The drawback is that these sites can only check one page at a time. However, these companies can provide resources about how to make your website ADA compliant. 

    The Web Accessibility Initiative also provides a list of resources and tools your site can use to meet the compliance standards. They also provide education and specific programs for each type of issue you may find on your website. WordPress sites can use a free plug-in to check for ADA compliance as well.

    Self-Audit

    You have the option to manually audit each page of your website to ensure that it’s compliant with ADA standards. Individuals and organizations from around the world have developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to provide the basis for ADA compliance. 

    If your business is less than 15 employees, then a manual audit may be all that you need; however, if your business doesn’t fall within the parameters of the ADA guidelines, then it is advantageous for your business to invest in a professional audit because the repercussions of not being ADA compliant could prove devastating. 

Team

ADA Compliance Website Creation

If you want to work with a world-leading full-service marketing agency and have us check your website content for compliance, then contact us now at On The Marketing, Inc. We have experience designing and building ADA compliant sites, and helping businesses grow their internet platforms

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