Every day, individuals with disabilities use the Internet and frequently struggle with navigating non-ADA -compliant websites. As a result, they don’t purchase services or products, and businesses lose potential sales. It’s up to businesses to be educated on ADA requirements and ensure their websites are indeed compliant. Fortunately, there are several organizations that can assist businesses with ADA compliance. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main organization that governs the standards for the Internet, and it has published guidelines for enhancing websites to ensure greater accessibility.
WHAT IS THE ADA?
The ADA was enacted in 1990 as a federal civil rights law. The law’s goal is to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA was enacted before the Internet boom so, unfortunately, barely addresses website requirements. For more information on the law and ADA compliance, the Department of Justice often directs businesses to consult the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as the standard reference. Businesses that follow WCAG or other W3C guidelines need to be prepared to take steps necessary for creating ADA-compliant websites. In doing so, businesses will learn about these accessibility standards and discover that any website that falls below them may violate the ADA.
ON THE ROAD TO ADA COMPLIANCE
Your business should begin by deciding if you want to handle your ADA-compliant website efforts in-house or if you want to outsource them to an expert. If in-house, a thorough understanding of code is essential. Study WCAG and use as it your handbook while applying the techniques it recommends. In addition, create and maintain an internal web access policy to ensure your website remains compatible. A simple step which will reflect positively on your business is posting an accessibility statement in your app or website that describes your efforts to create and maintain an accessible website.
Also important to note is that while you can make changes to your website after you create it to improve accessibility, it’s recommended that to get the best results, you should prepare as early in the website design process as possible. If planning a website refresh, it’s a great time to get ADA compliant.
MUST-HAVES OF AN ADA-COMPLIANT WEBSITE
1. INCLUSIVE DESIGN
One in four Americans has a disability, so there’s a high chance that some of your website users have special needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), persons with disabilities fall into at least one of the following six categories:
- independent living, and
2. FONT AND COLOR
One type of visual impairment is color blindness. Therefore, be aware of how fonts and colors are used. An accessibility must-have feature is the ability to zoom in and out.
3. VIDEO AND AUDIO FILES
Deaf and blind people will need to have an alternative method for accessing video and audio. Adding alternative tags to your images, subtitles to your videos, and transcripts for your audio files will mitigate these issues.
Straightforward layouts for your website content are best for disabled people. This includes having navigation menus, links, clear headings for content and a simple structure.
Having an ADA-compliant website makes business sense. An inconvenienced client could file a lawsuit that may not only damage your brand reputation, but also cost your business thousands of dollars in legal fees, lost time, and wasted resources. With that said, talk to your team leaders to create an ADA-compliant website, because it really isn’t too complicated. If you begin by implementing the elements mentioned here, you’ll be well on the way to having a website that is accessible to everyone, especially people with disabilities.