Updating Your Website to be ADA Compliant and Accessible
When designing your website there is so much to consider from color schemes to typography to media. layout, and much more. One of the things many business owners and digital marketers may overlook is ADA Compliance. Staying ADA Compliant is important to help protect your business from not only lawsuits and fines, but also to provide needed accommodations for viewers with varying disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires some businesses to have accommodations for people with disabilities. It exists to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Your website should be accessible to those with vision or hearing impairments who need to navigate by voice, captions, or other assistance. Besides just simply avoiding legal problems, this is very important to your potential customers as well. In 2020, the CDC reported that 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability, which means this is fundamental to your business! To make your site fully accessible for ALL customers, there are some things you should know.
How To Know If Your Website is ADA Compliant?
There are a few ways to figure out if your website is ADA Compliant. You can either choose to do manual testing or automated testing. Both of these methods can work when reviewing your site, but there are some pros and cons to be aware of for each.
Manual Testing: You can check your website for ADA Compliance by using a manual audit. This means you have to go through every page of your site and manually determine if it’s accessible. Although the ADA does not have a compliance “checklist”, people often refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) when conducting their audits. Though the WCAG has a massive checklist, they focus on 4 fundamental principles:
Perceivable: Everyone should have the means to perceive all information on your website. This may include audio alternatives and assistive technologies.
Operable: All navigation needs to be completely operable for everyone who visits your site. This may include keyboard accessibility.
Understandable: All content on your site is easy to understand. This may include instructions for how to use something or offering input assistance.
Robust: Your website's content needs to be able to be interpreted by various devices and platforms.
Automated Testing: Your website can also be checked for ADA compliance with tons of automated checker tools. There are a lot of free and paid options to ensure your website is compliant. Some of your website-building platforms may even have it available already. For example, WIX has a web accessibility checker that allows you to go through your entire site and edit it to make it accessible. Some other options for automated accessibility checkers are:
What Are Some Fundamentals to Focus On While Making Your Website ADA Compliant?
The ADA does not have a specific checklist for website accessibility, but we do know the four fundamentals that the WCAG follows. Unfortunately, there is not a golden answer but we do have some areas to focus on to upgrade your website and keep your website ADA compliant:
Using color alone to communicate information can cause a problem for some of your customers. The color contrast needs to be large enough for your users to be able to see the color differences and read the text. To help avoid color contrast issues, you can try using borders, whitespace, or patterns to help differentiate the view for your users.
Alt-Text For Every Image
Alt-text is a description for all your images and should be included on every image. The specific code for adding alternative text is (alt=””) and must be present on every image. If the image describes the information that you couldn't know without seeing the image, it needs Alt-Text. All in all, it’s important to remember that not every user will be able to see the image you are providing and it's your job to make it accessible.
Text Transcripts and Audio Description
Putting up a video and image and calling it a day won’t cut it. Remember, you could potentially have users who are deaf or blind visiting your sites and there need to be accommodations for them. With that being said, all video and audio media must have text transcripts with them as well as subtitles. Captions are essential to accommodate those with hearing disabilities. The same goes for audio description. There must be a speech version of a descriptive transcript to ensure your customers can receive all information.
Heading Descriptions and Subheadings
Heading descriptions and subheadings are essential to describing graphics to some of your customers. Sometimes you forget that just uploading an image won’t get the job done. Many people experience color blindness which limits their ability to see certain images. Your image should have a clear heading and subheadings in an easy-to-read font to allow certain users to understand what they should be seeing.
Call to Action Buttons
CTA buttons are critical to your website. They are telling users what you essentially want them to do. Your CTA buttons should be accessible to everyone to ensure your customer can complete their desired task. The text on your CTA buttons needs to have an easy-to-understand text on them and this is also a good time to keep contrasting colors in mind.
Different Types of Media
Different types of media could make or break your website being ADA compliant. Remember, there isn’t just one disability to adjust to, there is a multitude. Representing different media types within your website ensures that the user can obtain the information they are looking for in several different formats. Don’t be afraid to write a paragraph, and also include a video and image that all describe the same information. Your users need to have options, and this doesn’t just pertain to disabilities. Everyone has different preferences on how they like to learn information and you shouldn’t be afraid to expand on them.
We know that ADA Compliance is a relatively new topic and can be difficult to understand. While we wish all our clients could maintain the proper ADA compliance issues to stay out of legal trouble, we also want to make sure every customer has the opportunity to experience your business in a digital form in the way that they need to. Contact us today to learn more about ADA Compliance on your website and the steps to get your site ADA compliant and accessible for all.