Why Your Website Should Be ADA Compliant
And What You Need to Do to Make It ADA Accessible
By now you have probably heard about websites and ADA compliance. You may have even heard of a business getting sued for not having and ADA accessible website. While these sorts of lawsuits are generally an attempt at a cash grab, it makes sense to take steps to make your website ADA compliant.
Why Should Your Website be ADA Accessible?
There are several reasons you want your website to comply with the ADA Education and Reform Act.
Consider these 4 factors:
- Accessible content for visitors. A compliant website provides equal accessibility to all people visiting your website. Considering the CDC claims “1 in 4 US adults live with a disability”, you want all visitors to have equal access to your content.
- Protection from lawsuits. While recent changes in the law were made to limit lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is still in your best interest to limit your exposure to potential lawsuits or penalties.
- ADA accessibility changes improve SEO. More on this below, but many of the changes to improve ADA compliance are also foundational on-page SEO changes that often get ignored.
- It’s the right thing to do. Providing equal accessibility to your content is simply the right thing to do. It’s better for your website visitors and it should only bolster your business’ image and reputation.
What Needs to be Done to Make Your Website ADA Compliant
Unfortunately, there is not a list of items that need to be completed to ensure ADA website compliance, so what needs to be done is not as clear as most business owners would like. However, based on existing legal decisions, it is safe to say a best practice is to bring your website in conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA.
WCAG 2.0 is not what I would describe as an “easy read”. However, there are some steps you can take. WCAG highlights the following categories for website accessibility:
Here is a breakdown of specific actions you can take for each area:
- Provide Text Alternatives. Specifically, you want to make sure your images and other visual content contain alt text. Alt text (or alt tags) provide a verbal description for images on your website.
- Provide alternatives for time-based elements. Time based elements would include things like audio and video files. For instance, this would include things like providing transcripts for your video.
- Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
- Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
- Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
- Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures. For instance, this includes limiting the number of times an element can flash.
- Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
- Readable: Make text content readable and understandable. An example here would include declaring the website’s language in the HTML
- Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways. Consider a consistent layout and menu structure to ensure a predictable website.
- Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes. This also includes providing sufficient instructions for areas of the site requiring input.
- Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
Fortunately, there are some solutions that can automate a large part of this work for you. If you run a WordPress website, there are some ADA Accessible plugins you can leverage. Some of these plugins carry an annual subscription but depending on your business and exposure, it can be worth the price.
First, it is important to note I am not a lawyer and nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. I am the owner of Marketing Practicality, a digital marketing agency. If you have ADA accessibility or compliance questions, I recommend you consult a lawyer specializing in ADA regulatory matters.
That said, it is unlikely that current regulatory issues like ADA accessibility, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and others will go away. In fact, expect more regulations to come down the pike. Optimizing websites for ADA accessibility benefits both your viewers user experience as well as your website’s SEO performance. Not to mention, it may be a deterrent to a lawsuit. In summary, it is in your business’ best interest to get ahead of the regulatory curve and take action to make your website ADA compliant.
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