ADA compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design, which states that all electronic and information technology (such as websites) must be accessible to people with disabilities.
Why should I care about ADA compliance?
Around 13% of the United States population lives with disabilities. This group of people needs certain assistance and assistive technologies in order to use a website unlike those without disabilities. Without it, people with disabilities are unable to use your website effectively, and in some cases, even at all. By not considering these technologies for use in your site, you’re disenfranchising a large group of people and that hurts your bottom line as a company and a human being. ADA compliance introduces a set of requirements detailing what your site needs to do in order to be compliant with their standards.
What happens if I ignore ADA requirements?
Best case scenario is you lose a percentage of the population that can use your website without it hurting your bottom line. Worst case scenario includes the loss of people that can use your website, loss of revenue and, potentially, a lawsuit from a person who is unable to use your website.
Who needs to adhere with ADA requirements?
Organizations that need to adhere with ADA requirements include:
State and local government agencies
Private employers with 15 or more employees
Businesses that operate for the benefit of the public
Recently, The Supreme Court set a precedent that will forever impact the landscape of the internet. Dominos (a private company) was successfully sued for not having an accessible website. Even if ADA compliance doesn’t apply to you, it’s still important to create a site that everyone can use.
How do I make my website ADA compliant?
Since ADA encompasses electronic and information technology, including websites on the internet, ADA compliance impacts almost all businesses. In most cases, sites and their designs aren’t ignoring ADA requirements intentionally. That being said, websites do need to be intentionally designed and developed with ADA requirements in mind in order to achieve ADA compliance. Our team of designers and developers will work together to ensure your site is compliant with the ADA requirements.
What are the WCAG requirements to be ADA compliant?
The current go-to recommendation revolves around the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. This set of guidelines outlines multiple recommendations or goals for making a website ADA accessible to users. The core principles that guide WCAG 2.0 include:
Perceivable: You want users to have the ability to perceive all the information that appears on your site, like text, images, video, and more. Even if a user can’t see your website’s text or listen to your website’s video, you need to provide an alternative.
Operable: You want users to have the capabilities to navigate your site and use all its features. Any user, for example, should have the means to use your main navigation, as well as any site tools, like calculators.
Understandable: You want users to have the means to understand your website content. That means users can understand your site’s text, images, videos, and tools. For example, your site may include instructions for using a feature, like a calculator or a contact form.
Robust: You want users to have the ability to receive the same experience, even if using assistive technologies. People reading your content versus those using a voice reader, for example, should get the same content even if it’s delivered differently.
WCAG compiled all their principles into an easy-to-follow checklist. This checklist consists of three levels:
Level A: Build a website that some users can access.
Level AA: Build a website that almost all users can access.
Level AAA: Build a website that all users can access.
For Level AA WCAG 2.0 guidelines for ADA compliance, follow these rules:
For all live video, provide captions. You can add captions to your live videos using software or professional services.
Provide audio descriptions for all pre-recorded content. You can also add a link near the content that directs users to your audio description.
Maintain a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for text and images of text. Exceptions include large text or images of large text, logotypes, or incidental text or images of text.
Allow users to resize site text (without any assistive technology) up to 200%. The resize must not cause a loss of content or site functionality. This ADA compliance item does not apply to captions or images of text.
Images of text
Avoid using images that feature mostly text to convey your content unless users can customize the image or the image is essential. If you want to use these kinds of images, like for pull quotes, substitute them using CSS, which can stylize text.
Offer users more than one option for locating a page on your site, unless that page is the result or step in a process, like completing an online checkout. Adding an HTML sitemap, site search, and consistent navigation menu can help you accomplish this to-do.
Headings and labels
Use headings or labels to describe the topic or purpose of content. Aim for descriptive and straightforward labels or headings. You should also label all site elements, like a pricing table or contact form.
Anyone accessing your site with a keyboard should have the ability to see the keyboard focus indicator — or the outline that appears on a form field — on site elements like links, form fields, and menus. Add this feature on your website with CSS.
For any website content that isn’t in your default language, add a language attribute to the page. A site that uses English, for instance, may add a language attribute for a page with content in French.
Provide a consistent navigation location and organization for users. Your navigation menu, for instance, should always appear in the same spot (like the left-hand side) and with the same menu items.
Site elements with the same function should have consistent identification. You can label and name these elements, for example, and use identical alt text for elements with the same purpose.
Offer users suggestions for fixing input errors, like the format of a phone number in a contact form. You can provide correction recommendations via text.
Any pages that generate legal commitments or financial transactions, modify or delete user-controlled data, or submit user test responses must be reversible, checked for errors, and confirmed before submission. Create an order confirmation page, for example, or allow users to cancel orders within a specific period.