ADA Compliant Websites
ADA COMPLIANCE FOR WEBSITES
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was developed to ensure that those with disabilities are provided the same opportunities and rights as everyone else. This means that businesses serving the public domain must ensure their buildings accommodate disabled individuals. The ADA also reaches into the digital domain of websites and mobile apps, ensuring that content is available and accessible to users with disabilities. The specific rules on what makes a website or mobile app ADA compliant is not clear nor set in stone. So how does one build an ADA-compliant website?
Building an ADA-Compliant Website
Under ADA Title 1 or Title III, businesses are required to have websites that offer what is referred to as “reasonable accessibility” to those with disabilities. Website accessibility is about guaranteeing the ability to interact with a site’s content if you have a disability such as blindness and low vision, limited movement, deafness and hearing loss, and cognitive impairments. Reaching this level of accessibility can be achieved by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Applying the following changes to a website will help prevent losing traffic, leads, customers, and even unwanted lawsuits.
- Ensure the site layout is consistent across all pages, including menus, links, buttons, and being transparently delineated as possible to move from one menu to the next smoothly.
- Make sure to include alternative (alt) tags in all images, audio, and video. The reason for this is because alt tags allow the users to see descriptions and purposes of content by hovering over it.
- Add transcripts for video and audio content as well. This will significantly assist users with loss of hearing in understanding content that they would otherwise not have access to.
- Consider providing suggestions and alternatives when users make input errors. The idea behind this feature is to give users who have unique navigation needs with suggestions so they can more easily find the content they are looking for.
- Ensure that a website’s language is identified in the header code so those that are using text readers will know what language the site is using and can adjust accordingly.
The consequences of non-compliance
Not meeting the ADA requirements can mean a parade of loss for a website. Search engines such as Google may not prioritize a site in Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs), which means potential customers may never find your site, and even if they did, they might leave because they cannot use your site due to their disability. Non-ADA compliant websites leave themselves wide open to lawsuits, and it is more common than one may think.
While the regulatory guidelines for those seeking to bring their sites to an ADA-compliant state are not always clear, the concept of reasonable accessibility is rather easy to understand. By following these simple enhancements and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, one can get ahead and avoid the potential for future litigation. Ultimately, bringing a website up to ADA compliance will increase search engine rankings and be a catalyst for an increase in sales.