The internet is a necessary part of everyone’s daily lives – even more so today than ever before.
So it needs to be accessible to everyone, including those that are differently-abled.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects disabled people from discrimination and it has released guidelines to help you create a website that is easily accessible to all communities.
Let’s break down ADA compliance for your website, including what it is, how to achieve it, and how it benefits your audience and you.
In 2021, whether or not your site is ADA compliant has a big impact on your brand, so this should be a top priority for the new year.
What Is ADA Compliance?
The ADA became law in 1990 and ruled that people with disabilities could not be discriminated against in their workplaces, schools, on public transportation, and all other areas that are open to the general public.
For a few decades, new buildings have had to follow specific rules to have ADA compliance, like having a wheelchair ramp and elevator in the building. In 2010, the ADA turned its attention to the internet with the release of standards for accessible design.
The internet is now viewed as a public place where people with disabilities can be discriminated against if the websites they need to use are not accessible to them. For example, think about children with autism who had to do online school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools needed to have ADA compliance in all parts of their online learning so that those children could effectively participate and wouldn’t be left behind.
The ADA is a strict liability law, so there’s little to no room for excuses or violations of the standards for accessible design. Amazon and the Wall Street Journal have both been in lawsuits regarding website accessibility, along with others.
Who Needs ADA Compliant Websites?
Consider the many different people who may not be able to use websites in an easy or traditional way. This includes:
- Deaf and blind people
- Those with learning difficulties like dyslexia
- Those with behavioral disabilities or anxiety
- People with injuries
These groups can encompass a lot of people, so it’s crucial to put techniques in place so they can easily use your website and understand the content.
How to Make Your Website ADA Compliant
According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a website that has ADA compliance must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Let’s breakdown what those guidelines mean.
To be perceivable, the content on your website should be able to be consumed by everyone. That may mean providing alternative options, like a transcript of a video.
To be operable, everyone should be able to use and navigate your website with no problem. The push towards mobile versions of sites makes it difficult for some differently-abled people to use if they don’t use a phone. You should always have a full desktop version of your site, and navigation bars and any other key elements should be easy to find.
To be understandable means that everyone can understand your content. To achieve this, providing instructions on how to use different aspects of your site can help make it more accessible for everyone.
Finally, to be robust, your website should be the same experience for everyone who visits it. This may mean adding in additional features, but it’s worth it to ensure that it works for everyone.
How To Check Your Website for ADA Compliance
To check to see if your website meets ADA compliance, you can use an online ADA compliance website checker. There are free checkers, like WAVE and LIGHTHOUSE, where you simply input your URL and they evaluate your site.
There is also an ADA compliance plugin on WordPress that you should be using if you have a WordPress website.
However, for a more professional and thorough assessment of your site, you can hire someone to conduct a professional audit. After auditing your site they’ll be able to help you with a plan to make your site more accessible, and some agencies can even implement the plan for you. This is the best option if you don’t feel comfortable doing an audit yourself.
ADA Compliance Website Checklist
The key to ADA compliance is evaluating your website for any parts that may not be accessible and providing an alternative. Follow these tips to make sure everyone can use your site:
- Always offer text alternatives for non-text content
- Example: image descriptions
- Always offer alternatives to multi-media content
- Example: video transcripts, captions, audio descriptions
- Use valid HTML
- Example: organize your site with headings and subheadings
- Remove background noise
- Allow color customization
- Avoid content that can cause seizures
- Example: delete content that flashes, remove pop-ups
- Make sure your navigation menu is logical
- Build a search tool
- Upload an HTML sitemap
- Use breadcrumb navigation
Making these changes will create a website that is much more accessible for everyone to use, and luckily, they are simple to implement.
Why You Can’t Afford To Ignore ADA Website Compliance
The amount of lawsuits being filed over ADA website compliance is skyrocketing, so this is not something you should choose to ignore. Plus, it’s 2021, and you should want all of your website visitors to have a good experience and feel included.
Some techniques that boost ADA compliances are also good for your SEO, like alternative text. Having a website that works for everyone expands your market and builds trust with your audience, so not only is it the right thing to do, but it benefits you as well.
Improve Your Website Today
By now it should be clear that ADA compliance is not just an option for your website, but a requirement to ensure that people from all communities are accommodated and not discriminated against. If you think your website isn’t up to ADA standards, you should begin working on it as soon as possible.
Luckily, a few easy changes will make your website accessible to everyone, and there are several online tools and agencies that can guide you on those adjustments. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today—and generate more traffic and leads for your business.
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