The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of America’s most comprehensive and powerful pieces of civil rights legislation. Most people are aware of the physical accessibility accommodations businesses must make, such as automatic door openers and wheelchair accessible ramps. Most people are not aware that the ADA also applies to websites.
Under the ADA, all websites must be as accessible as ATMs, elevators, terminals and other user interfaces. Not only must your website be accessible to all on a laptop or desktop, but also on tablets and cell phones. Failing to comply with ADA standards creates non-optimal and awkward experiences for many site visitors with disabilities. Simply put, ADA website compliance is assuring that your website falls within the prescribed accessibility standards of the ADA and the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
Remember to keep in mind that not everyone uses typical browsers like Google Chrome. There are many site visitors who use a variety of accessibility devices and programs to access this information, such as screen readers and braille keyboards. In order for these tools to correctly translate or convey the information contained on the webpage to the user, the website must be coded properly.
1. Partner with An ADA Website Compliance Agency.
Mention ADA compliance to most web developers and you’ll probably encounter a blank stare or two. First and foremost, find a developer familiar with the web platform or framework that your website uses and ask about how their development and design workflow addresses accessibility and compliance. If they tell you that they understand all of the complexities of building a compliant website, we highly recommend auditing them by using a company that specializes in website accessibility.
2. Audit Your Website Code.
The judicious next step is to run a technological audit on your website. The audit will scan your site and identify all the elements and code that does not currently meet web accessibility standards for ADA compliance. The results will give you an itemized list of the work required so that you can set your budget properly. Each site configuration has varying levels of remediation difficulty. Your ADA audit cost could range broadly from hundreds of dollars for a basic remediation to tens of thousands for a full site audit and remediation.
3. Determine Your Compliance Scope of Work
At this point, your developer or design agency can use the audit report to gauge the overall level of effort it will take to remediate the website and provide an estimate. Your developer will sit down and work out a budget, timelines, proposed deliverables, and some compliance expectation management.
If the task list is so vast that this compliance approach is not feasible for your company. At the very least, you’ll understand where you sit with ADA website compliance and can plan to address it soon. Some critical compliance work is better than no changes at all.
For others, full ADA compliance and remediation is a must, because of company size, sales strategy, audience or legal counsel.
4. Put in The Work.
Once the project has been properly road mapped, it’s time to get to work remediating your website. Your developer will begin to work through the various compliance deliverables and communicate how these changes will positively affect your site’s visitors experience. Below are some common ADA issues and the resolutions:
- The images on your site must have alt. text tags associated with them in the event they do not render on a device or the user is visually disabled and is unable to see the image. The alternative text will clearly describe what that element is for a visitor’s screen reader. Without that tag, screen readers will not understand what information is being presented.
- If the chosen colors on your site for essential elements, like buttons or icons, do not have enough contrast, then it is hard for some impaired visitors to discern what the buttons are and what they do.
- If lists or forms on your website do not have proper labels, this makes it impossible for screen readers to translate them for visually impaired visitors. A good example is a shipping and billing information form for an e-commerce site.
5. Stay Up-To-Date on Compliance Standards Post-Launch.
ADA website compliance is not a one and done task. Compliance standards change and must be followed and will evolve just as your website grows and changes. There are guidelines and regulations all website owner must adhere to. It is generally not difficult, but often requires web developers to change their workflows. For example, loading images up to your e-commerce site will always need the alt tags mentioned above.
ADA website compliance has numerous benefits. It gives your website a competitive advantage and may lead to more transactions, offers a better overall experience across browsers, provides valuable information for Google, Bing and other search engine results, helps the site reach a wider audience, reduces your SEO and PPC spend and the likelihood of expensive ADA litigation.
Questions about ADA website compliance? Need to remediate your business’s website? ADA Site Compliance is here to help, with compliance plans starting at only $79 per year.