ADA Compliant

Does My Website Really Have to be ADA Compliant?

Overview: To ensure your website is ADA-compliant, all you need is our comprehensive guide on accessibility in web design. Learn essential best practices, key metrics, and actionable tips to make your site user-friendly for all, boosting your reach, and avoiding legal pitfalls.  Read more!

According to the World Health Organization in 2023, approximately 1.3 billion people, or 16% of the global population, live with a disability. Your website should be accessible to everyone, including those with visual, motor, or cognitive impairments.

Making your website accessible not only helps you avoid hefty fines but also boosts your revenue potential.

In today’s post, we’ll explain what an ADA-compliant website is and share simple rules to help you stay compliant. 

What is the ADA?   

The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Its purpose is to ensure that everyone, especially those with physical and cognitive disabilities, can participate fully in all areas of public life.

Enacted in 1990, the ADA initially focused on physical spaces, as most businesses had limited or no digital presence at the time. However, as the internet grew, it became necessary to extend these protections to online spaces. In 2010, this was addressed with the introduction of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

To comply with these standards, your website must be accessible to people with disabilities. This means all content should be easily navigable and usable by everyone, without creating separate paths for those with disabilities.

For example, individuals who are visually impaired should be able to use a text reader to access your content, navigate your categories, and handle tasks like creating a product return.

It’s important to note that ADA is often confused with Section 508, which specifically applies to federal agencies, departments, and commercial sites that interact with these public institutions.

Why Does ADA Compliance Matter?   

ADA compliance matters for several compelling reasons, all of which contribute to the overall success and integrity of your business. Here’s why ensuring your website is ADA-compliant should be a priority:

Inclusivity and Accessibility : First and foremost, ADA compliance ensures that your website is accessible to everyone. By making your website accessible, you are opening your digital doors to a broader audience, allowing everyone to navigate and interact with your content, services, and products without barriers.

Legal Requirements : Compliance with the ADA is not just a matter of good practice; it’s also a legal requirement. Failing to make your website accessible can result in significant legal consequences, including lawsuits and hefty fines. Ensuring your website meets ADA standards helps you avoid these potential legal pitfalls and demonstrates your commitment to following the law.

Enhanced User Experience : An ADA-compliant website often offers a better overall user experience for all visitors, not just those with disabilities. Features designed to improve accessibility, such as clear navigation, descriptive alt texts, and captioned videos, can make your website more user-friendly and enjoyable for everyone.

Broader Customer Base : By making your website accessible, you expand your potential customer base. People with disabilities represent a significant portion of the population, and by ensuring your site is usable for them, you can tap into this often-overlooked market. This inclusivity can lead to increased traffic, higher engagement, and, ultimately, more sales and conversions.

Positive Brand Image : Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility can significantly enhance your brand’s reputation. Consumers are increasingly drawn to businesses that prioritize inclusivity and social responsibility. By making your website ADA-compliant, you show that you value all customers and are dedicated to providing equal access to your services — which builds trust and loyalty among your audience.

What Does the ADA Require?   

The ADA incorporates the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide a comprehensive set of criteria to make web content more accessible. These guidelines are organized under four main principles:

  • Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. This includes providing text alternatives for non-text content, creating content that can be presented in different ways without losing meaning, and making it easier for users to see and hear content.

  • Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable. This means making all functionality available from a keyboard, giving users enough time to read and use content, and ensuring that content does not cause seizures or physical reactions.

  • Understandable: Information and the operation of the user interface must be understandable. This involves making text readable and understandable, ensuring that web pages appear and operate in predictable ways, and helping users avoid and correct mistakes.

  • Robust: Content must be robust enough to be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This means maximizing compatibility with current and future user tools.

ADA Compliance Best Practices   

To achieve ADA compliance, consider these essential actions related to content, website functionality, and design:

1.  Ensure Your Web Content is Accessible to All Users

Alternative Text for Images : One of the basic requirements is to provide alternative text (alt text) for all images. This allows screen readers to describe images to visually impaired users, ensuring they understand the content.

Keyboard Accessibility : All website functionalities must be accessible via a keyboard. This is crucial for users who cannot use a mouse and rely on keyboard shortcuts and navigation to interact with the website.

Video and Audio Accessibility : According to Wyzowl, 88% of people were convinced to purchase a product or service after watching a video.

While video is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, it needs to be accessible to all audiences to maximize its impact. This means adding subtitles for hearing-impaired viewers and providing transcripts for visually-impaired users.

You can take it a step further by including a descriptive audio transcript, offering a high-quality alternative to the video.

Clear Navigation and Structure : Websites should have a clear and consistent navigation structure. Using headings, lists, and descriptive links helps users understand and navigate the content more easily.

Form Accessibility : Forms must be accessible, meaning that labels should be clearly associated with their corresponding input fields. This helps screen readers convey the necessary information to users.

Error Identification and Suggestions : When users make errors in forms, these should be identified, and suggestions for correction should be provided. This helps users complete forms correctly and efficiently.

Ensure Your Design is User-Friendly for All : Color blindness or color vision deficiency affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women, making it an important factor in web design. But what does this mean for your website?

Let’s illustrate this.

Imagine someone with moderate red/green color blindness using a box of 24 colorful crayons. They would only be able to identify 5 of those colors correctly. This means that if your website relies solely on color to convey information, many users won’t be able to understand it.

To ensure accessibility, use additional visual cues alongside color, such as patterns, fills, sizes, borders, icons, or whitespace. Additionally, make sure there is sufficient contrast between the background and the text. The WCAG 2.0 level AA compliance suggests a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for text.

You can check your text’s contrast ratio using online contrast checkers, which will show your ratio and indicate if it meets current accessibility standards. This step is crucial for making your web content accessible to everyone.

>> Related Reading: What is Color Contrast & Why is Important for Accessibility?

In Summary  

To stay compliant with the ADA, businesses should regularly test their websites for accessibility issues and make necessary updates. Utilizing tools and services that specialize in web accessibility can help identify areas for improvement.

At MyUnlimitedWP, we specialize in WordPress services that ensure your site is not only ADA-compliant but also user-friendly for all visitors. From integrating subtitles and transcripts for your videos to optimizing your design for better contrast and navigation, our expert team is here to help.

Don’t let accessibility issues hold your business back. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we can enhance your website’s inclusivity and performance, driving more engagement and conversions for your small business.

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