As technology progresses, details matter more than ever. Website users will be turning up their hearing aids and screens large enough to read are on the rise helping them make choices easier. Readers also have different forms of graphics on display options to choose from, screen sizes are increasing, and new CSS layouts are often seen helping not only people with disabilities but others who value these perks for various reasons.
There are a few other important things (discussed later in this article) that you must address to ensure your website is ADA compliant. But for now, let’s take a step back and understand what it means for a website to be ADA compliant.
What is ADA Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights act that was passed in 1990 and states that it is illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities under the law. Though the ADA gave those disabled by illness or injury equal opportunities as those without such impairments, one thing it didn’t account for was the growing impact the internet would have on our lives as we saw more and more people open up shop online.
Are websites supposed to be ADA Compliant?
Yes, websites have to be ADA compliant.
Websites have come under fire recently with an ADA lawsuit. A significant number of people who are disabled have found websites inaccessible. The law states that all businesses must be ADA compliant in order to accommodate these individuals, but not all have adhered to this rule in accordance with the law. These people are being forced out of jobs, thus creating a large gap for their employers.
Despite the increase of lawsuits and the increasing awareness on the topic, there are still no official guidelines for full web accessibility under the ADA. For those looking to get their site up to ADA standards and avoid any such legal action, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are currently being used as a reference by courts as the standard for sites across the board to adhere to. These compliance levels that websites should strive towards in order to be in line with ADA regulations stand at WCAG 2.0 Level AA at a minimum.
What makes a website ADA Compliant?
To check your site’s compliance with the ADA guidelines, you’d have to audit it against the WCAG checklist. The WCAG provides a very thorough assessment for accessibility and will require some extensive technical knowledge.
How to make your website ADA Compliant?
Be sure that your website is accessible for everyone, not just those able to see and hear!
Describing and making accessible the internet and visual content online isn’t easy for those with visual impairments because there is already a lot of information to take in. Some people who are visually impaired use programs that enable them to scroll through text and pictures on their computers. These types of programs include alternative text to images you can use to describe blanks or short descriptions so as not to overwhelm the user. Additionally, there are also tools available for Apple iOS users who have trouble reading websites such as Speak Selection.
Website designers should take into consideration the colors of a website’s background, especially since colors can often determine how well visitors find what they need to access.
You’ll need to ensure that your site is fully accessible – not just the content – but the color contrast ratios of all images and charts on your web pages. A site that doesn’t meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA requirements may leave out or hinder sighted people from browsing through or understanding your website effectively. Additionally, visual cues such as signs and writing should never rely solely on color for their readability, but rather use distinct shapes and outlines as well as textual labels to provide clarity where needed by all visitors.
Text alternatives should be provided for all objects and other multimedia
People with visual disabilities can typically read the copy on websites, but when it comes to videos, audio clips, and podcasts – how are they supposed to understand what’s being said? It’s important that you include captions on your videos so that everyone in your audience, including people with hearing disabilities, can watch your video. Since most deaf people learn sign language first before learning how to speak the national language in their country of residence, embedding a clip of a sign language translator signing the audio of the video is also a good idea. When it comes to recordings and podcasts, consider providing a written transcript for listeners who prefer to read than listen!
The entire application’s functionality should be accessible using only the keyboard.
Keyboard control is a very key part of web accessibility. Some people have physical or motor disabilities that make it difficult for them to use a mouse and enter information. For those with visual impairments, some assistive technologies such as screen readers will audibly describe the web page content to them as they tab between elements. To accommodate these needs, we’re going to design our website so that its navigation and interactive components can be used solely through the keyboard. We’ll also include ‘skip navigation links’ so that users can more conveniently navigate quickly to the content they need on the page.
Having a fully functioning user control is crucial.
Users are also able to control multiple aspects of the site when it comes down to videos, animations, or audio. Having animated effects that flash rapidly when on a page with someone who has epilepsy can be detrimental and the same goes for having auto-playing videos or audio clips. Be sure to make sure your site includes user-friendly features where volume levels can be controlled for any given multimedia clip. If there are links or social media sharing buttons built-in, make sure they don’t make noise.
Documents are essential items to keep track of.
To comply with the ADA, any document available on your website must be accessible – meaning that it has to be readable by screen readers. This includes documents like PDFs, Word documents, slideshows, etc. To be screen reader-friendly, documents must have complete metadata, searchable text, images marked with an alt text or as decorative if they serve no meaningful purpose, proper tag structure, bookmarks for documents longer than 9 pages, and logical reading order on tables.
The internet is more important than ever before, and with it comes the need to accommodate a variety of user needs. To keep your business protected from lawsuits and provide a better customer experience, making the change to ADA compliance is a good idea.
Scope Design offers free website reviews for ADA Compliance. Check out our ADA Compliant Website services today and shoot us a message. Let’s make your website and web content ADA Compliant the Scope Design way!