Websites Must Be Accessible According To The ADA

Websites Must Be Accessible According To The ADA

Published: January 6, 2023

    Have our accessibility experts contact you

    Protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Google Terms of Service.

    Share via:

    The internet is a whale of information everyone turns to for everything ranging from booking holidays to shopping and finding jobs. And with websites being the main form of interaction, it is necessitated by law that websites must be accessible and comply with ADA accessibility standards.

    This means that websites that do not have an ADA-compliant website and design risk facing a lawsuit and missed opportunities. Don’t worry. If you don’t know how, but want to ensure your website is ADA-compliant, contact us here at ADA Site Compliance. We are your #1 source for ADA website accessibility compliance assistance today.

    Websites must be accessible according to the ADA

    The ADA is a civil rights law protecting discrimination against people with disabilities by guaranteeing them equal opportunities as people without disabilities. This includes not only making physical location shops, offices, commercial facilities, and public accommodations fully accessible with amenities like wheelchair accessibility but ensuring ADA’s requirements apply to websites too.

    In a bid to better empower people to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and to understand their rights while creating and maintaining a modern and user-friendly website, the Department of Justice recently launched a new and improved site.

    The new website provides updated information about what ADA means and its accessibility requirements in a more customized format to help people understand ADA compliance.  Visitors can easily find all the required and related ADA compliance information and answers.  And most importantly, the updated website is mobile-optimized with easy-to-use navigation tools and text in plain language.

    Some changes made to ensure the site is user-friendly include the introduction of featured topics overviews. They are high-level but plain language explanations of all existing information and legal requirements about the law, making it easy for the common man to understand.

    These overviews answer 80% of questions and are easy to scan and navigate using clear headings, links, and icons with clear examples and definitions.

    The site’s design was created based on user testing and feedback, which helped make the site easy to read and understand. The user feedback also played an essential part in ensuring visitors could easily and quickly find what they wanted. And this was possible because disabled users tested websites to ensure they provided equal access.

    However, the Justice Department won’t’ stop with the launch of this website as they will constantly be improving the website to achieve ADA compliance. This includes regularly adding and transferring content from the old website over time.

    Why is web accessibility so important?

    There are three main reasons for website owners to make their websites accessible: legal, DEI and opportunity.

    • Legal reasons

      Web accessibility is essential for legal reasons because it ensures people with disabilities can access all the information and resources on a website. Besides, with most services and information moving online, the rehabilitation act requires that all websites be ADA-compliant.

      The internet and websites are also used today to access voter information while voting. Many legal plaintiffs and advocacy groups today vigorously defend web accessibility rights. And serial attorneys and plaintiffs are today taking legal action and seeking easy settlements where possible. So it is safer and better for businesses to ensure their websites conform to ADA standards.

    • Legal reasons - Why is web accessibility so important
    • DEI

      DEI is the acronym for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion which means people with disabilities have equal rights to digital inclusion. This has grown even more important after the pandemic, with everyone turning to and depending on the web for practically everything.

    • Opportunity

      You stand to miss out on massive opportunities if your website isn’t ADA-compliant. It’s because there are not only more than 61 million people with disabilities in the US alone but there is also a market of more than 71M boomers.

      These boomers have buying power and deserve the right to full and equal enjoyment in everything they do. And they face similar challenges to disabled users, which includes hearing disabilities, vision problems, and poor fine motor and cognitive skills.

      For example, these users find it difficult to access commercial websites with poor colors as they will find it difficult to read the text. To make web content accessible, web developers and website owners should focus on using colors only for informational purposes.

      Besides, even users with visual impairments using electronic and information technology like screen readers will find it difficult to read text on websites with poor colors. The screen reader will not be able to read the different text colors on a page, and thus the user will not be able to read the text.

    What is WCAG and its role in ADA Compliance?

    What is WCAG and its role in ADA Compliance?

    As ADA does not have guidelines for website compliance, many websites follow and stick to WCAG or web content accessibility guidelines. WCAG guidelines are an internationally recognized set of guidelines for digital accessibility established and managed by the international web standards group, W3C.

    While this is not a legal requirement, websites prefer referring to the WCAG for better ADA website compliance. The WCAG is available in three versions, 1.0, 2.0, and 2.1. While version 2.0 entirely replaced version 1.0, 2.1 is just an extension of 2.0.

    In other words, the 2.1 version currently in use is backward compatible with 2.0. In addition to these three versions, there are three levels of conformance.

    • Level A which is a bare minimum level of accessibility
    • Level AA which is the target level of accessibility for most commercial websites
    • Level AAA, which are the highest standards that exceed all accessibility requirements, and expands on levels A and AA. Though an excellent goal, most websites cannot reach Level AAA compliance.

    While the WCAG 2.2 version is supposed to be released in the foreseeable future, website owners should ensure their websites conform with WCAG2.1 to prevent litigation and ensure their site is accessible.

    Which businesses have to comply with ADA?

    According to the ACA, all businesses with a minimum of 15 employees working for twenty or more weeks in a year qualify for ADA. Title III prohibits discrimination but has some additional obligations which businesses falling under the public accommodations categories like hotels, banks, or transport services have to comply with.

    These laws apply to physical considerations and the business’s digital accommodation or websites. So companies with ADA title I or title III should consider regularly checking their websites to ensure they conform with ADA regulations.

    Besides, the number of digitally accessible cases has increased by as much as 50% over the past 12 months. And it’s predicted that there will be ten new cases daily in the foreseeable future.

    WCAG web compliance standards

    WCAG web compliance standards

    There are four fundamental standards federal websites have to conform with for website compliance: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Here is an overview of the standards:

    • Perceivable

      According to this standard, all website information and user interface components should be presented so users can easily perceive it. This includes giving alt text or text alternatives for non-text content, creating content presentable in different ways, like through audio files for those with vision problems, and providing captions and other multimedia alternatives.

    • Operable

      According to this standard, users should be able to operate interface components and navigate the website easily. For example, the interface shouldn’t require any actions that users with disabilities will find difficult to perform.

      This includes helping users find and navigate content, giving users sufficient time to read and fill content like online forms, and letting users navigate and use the website using the keyboard.

    • Understandable

      Users should be able to easily understand all the information and operation of the user interface. This is achieved by ensuring all the website text is readable, understandable, and operable in predictable manners and should also help users avoid and correct mistakes where necessary.

    • Robust

      Website content should be so robust that the content can be reliably interpreted using various user agents like auxiliary aids, automated tools, and other assistive technology. This is possible by maximizing compatibility with existing and future user tools.

    ADA Compliance Checklist

    Adhering to this short checklist is a basic requirement for ADA compliance:

    • Reading law documents
    • Having an ‘alt’ tag for all media files and maps
    • Including descriptive HTML tags in online forms
    • Using descriptive anchor text in hyperlinks
    • Including ‘skip navigation’ links on all web pages
    • Having accessible PDF files
    • Using proper heading tags in web content
    • Including subtitles, audio descriptions, and transcripts in videos
    • Using accessible fonts
    • Easily locatable contact information on all web pages
    • Keyboard navigation accessibility
    • Written captions for all audio files
    • Testing website accessibility based on WCAG guidelines
    • Automating website accessibility checks to prevent important accessibility issues
    ADA Compliance Checklist For Accessible Websites


    Here are some frequently asked questions many website owners ask about ADA accessibility.

    •  1. What is an ADA-accessible website?

      ADA-accessible websites do not have barriers that prevent people with disabilities from accessing or interacting with the websites. These websites are perfectly designed, edited, and developed to ensure all their visitors have equal access to the website’s information and functionality.

    • 2. Is ADA compliance mandatory for websites in 2022?

      Websites are not explicitly included in the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, as they are considered places of public accommodation, most sites people visit every day have to be ADA-compliant.

      As many courts in America consider ADA compliance mandatory, ADA compliance is compulsory for websites in two categories:

      • Websites that state and local governments fund
      • Business websites

      While most of the ADA website lawsuits are made against businesses considered to be places of public accommodation, even government sites, commercial websites selling goods or services, and websites open to the general public need to be ADA compliant.

    • 3. Is ADA compliance necessary for my website?

      There are still no clear instructions on how and whether all websites must be ADA-compliant. However, it is better to be safe than sorry by being more cautious with your website being accessible to people with disabilities.

      The best way to build an ADA-compliant website without any clear definition is by periodically scanning your website for accessibility errors.

    • 4. Can a website be 100% ADA-compliant?

      No, a website can’t be 100% ADA-compliant without accessibility issues. However, this doesn’t mean businesses can neglect ADA compliance, and they must take the necessary measures to ensure their website complies with ADA requirements as much as possible.

      This includes eliminating all and any barriers to real-life users, like digital accessibility barriers. And with the number of web accessibility lawsuits increasing every day, a business should have and follow a compliance plan.

      Website owners need to audit and remediate their websites. An audit helps ascertain all the accessibility issues on your website. Remediation then helps fix all the problems found in the audit and makes your website accessible.

    Contact us at ADA Site Compliance as your #1 source for ADA website accessibility compliance assistance today.

    Share via:

    Speak With An Expert Now


      Protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Google Terms of Service

      Have a question?

      We’re always here to help.