Is your website ADA-compliant? To ensure everyone including disabled people could access all aspects of public life without having to worry about exclusion or discrimination, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), a form of civil rights legislation was passed in 1990. Today, the Internet has become a huge part of our everyday lives. And websites are at the forefront of it. So much so that research has found that 6/10 customers expect brands to have content online about their business.
Having a website means customers are always able to find you – anytime, anywhere. However, as the web legend once said – “With great power comes great responsibility“. This 24/7 medium, a part of your marketing suite, is also subject to ADA – being accessible to all. If you are not careful, ADA fines can cost your business around $55,000 & upwards!
Some Benefits of ADA Compliant Website
1. Increased Accessibility: An ADA compliant website ensures that it is accessible to the widest possible audience, including those with disabilities. This includes providing alternative text for images, creating accessible navigation, and providing transcripts for videos and audio files.
2. Improved SEO: ADA compliance is a ranking factor for search engines such as Google, so having an ADA compliant website can help improve your website’s visibility on search engine results pages.
3. Compliance with Laws: Websites that are not ADA compliant are subject to legal action, so it’s important to ensure your website meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
4. Increased User Engagement: An ADA compliant website allows more users to access your website, which can lead to increased user engagement and potentially more sales for your business.
5. Increased Brand Reputation: Having an ADA compliant website shows that your business is committed to providing an accessible experience for all users. This can help improve your brand’s reputation and make it more attractive to potential customers.
Accessibility in Context
The power of the Web is in its universality.Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
What is Web Accessibility
If you are wondering, yes, ADA is applicable to websites. As per w3.org, web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can:
- Perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web
- Contribute to the Web
Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including:
Assistive Technology in Context
The web can be perceived differently by people with different disabilities. To give you some context here are some tools that are utilized to navigate the web:
- Text readers
- Speech input software
- Head pointers
- Motion-tracking or eye-tracking
- Screen readers
- Refreshable Braille displays
How Can a Website be Optimized for Accessibility?
Optimizing for accessibility includes some simple aspects such as making sure the text is legible and some complex code-level implementations such as offering alternative text for images via alt tags. Hey, and another benefit of doing that is it also helps with SEO, helping you bring in more visitors, a win-win.
Here are some additional measures to help with optimizing the website:
- Support keyboard navigation
- Make video and multimedia accessible such as by offering closed captioning (CC).
- Utilizing descriptive URLs.
- Using ARIA roles.
- Minimizing the use of large tables where possible.
Checking if Your Website is ADA-Compliant
There are a number of ways to check if your website is ADA-compliant. The right choice can depend on the scale & complexity of the website.
Use free tools
WAVE® is a suite of evaluation tools that helps authors make their web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities. WAVE can identify many accessibility and Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) errors, but also facilitates human evaluation of web content.
We highly recommend this tool if you are looking for a quick evaluation of your web pages. All you have to do is enter the URL and it lists potential errors and faults.
accessScan is another great tool that lets you audit your website for free & instantly.
Before we delve into the details, a quick note: we partnered with AccessiBe for this listing, but we’ve tested their tool extensively and found it very satisfactory.
It utilizes the power of accessiBe’s AI technology to deliver a quick and accurate result and tell you exactly where your website stands.
It audits for the following categories:
- Clickables: Button, links & controls more
- Orientation: Focus, popups & more
- Menus: Navigations, dropdowns & more
- Carousels: Regions, controls & more
- Tables: Layouts, headings & more
- Graphics: Alt text, spacers & more
- Forms: Validations, labels & more
- Document: Language, landmarks & more
- Readability: Headings, contrasts & more
One noteworthy feature we admire is its capability to highlight the groups of individuals affected by the accessibility issues it identifies. For example, they may impact people with visual impairments, cognitive disabilities, and similar conditions.
Google PageSpeed Insights
While primarily a page speed evaluation tool, PageSpeed Insights also runs a few accessibility checks and scores your webpage on the same. You’ll just have to scroll a bit deeper to get to the accessibility tab for details. The higher the score the more ADA-compliant your website will be.
Conduct a Manual Audit
You can also conduct a manual audit to check if your web pages are ADA-compliant and evaluate your web pages as per the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This can, however, be a time-consuming process as the list of checks is quite massive. But it does come in handy for evaluating web pages that are password-protected for example. Additionally, you might want to run manual audits on checks that automated tools can’t handle yet.
Next Steps toward an ADA-Compliant Website
Once you have identified any issues, the next step is to get to fixing them. The time and effort required depend on factors such as the complexity of the website, the current state of code, discovered issues & potentially deeper audits – any underlying problems. The easiest option (for most companies) is an ADA-compliant web design agency like Jaxcom Digital. The techniques and practices that we implement not only provide your website with maximum digital accessibility but better equip it to be ADA-compliant. Contact us today to learn more.