Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

Design & Development

When you think of accessibility you may relate it to businesses offering handicapped parking lot spaces, accessible building ramps, or even braille on elevator buttons – But did you know that this also applies to websites?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established in 1990 in an effort to end discrimination against individuals with disabilities and to make all public places accessible, including websites. Whether you’re a small mom-and-pop shop, or a large corporation, your website may be a sitting target for an ADA lawsuit. During 2018, over 10,000 ADA Civil Rights cases were filed, a continuous increase year after year. With nearly 20 percent of the population living with a disability, and 71 percent of those users immediately leaving a website if it’s not accessible, it is important to optimize your web site’s design to create a better user experience for all of your visitors.  

What are some steps you can take toward having an accessible website?

1. Conduct an audit on your website

Create a checklist for each page on your site. An ADA compliant website has four main requirements that you can test for:

  • Perceivable – Issues that can affect a user’s ability to find or process information on your website. Does your site offer captions or transcripts for any video content? Do images on your site have alt tags?  Is your text and color usage distinguishable?
  • Operable – Issues that can impact a visitor’s ability to navigate or use your website. Some examples might include site functions and navigation that are unable to be operated through keyboard-only commands, or not including an option for the user to pause any time-relevant content.
  • Understandable – Issues concerning a user’s ability to distinguish and comprehend all information and navigation on your site. For example, a user that submits a form with an empty required field may receive an error message. The message should include a clear explanation of the error and information on how to correct it.
  • Robust – Issues that do not meet the changing needs of users with disabilities. For instance, you can test compatibility with common screen readers and ensure that those capabilities can be upgraded in the future.

2. Determine the urgency of each issue

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 are the standard guidelines businesses are recommended to follow. The guidelines categorize issues by order of importance: A issues (most urgent issues that can severely limit a disabled visitor’s ability to navigate or use your website), AA issues (functionality problems that do now allow a visitor with a disability the full user experience of a website), and AAA issues (considered to be the fine tuning of a website and often are beyond the reach of many businesses).

3. Create a public policy

It is unrealistic to expect that all of your website’s accessibility issues can be immediately addressed. Once you have your correction plan in place, you can publish an ADA policy on your website. This can be a simple statement that explains your company’s continuous efforts to comply with the ADA requirements. You can also offer users who are unable to fully navigate your site a method to contact you with their concerns.   

4. Stay informed

ADA regulations and the WCAG will continue to be modified and updated. It’s important to stay on top of any changes that take place, and to implement them into your site as part of your ongoing maintenance plan. Having an accessible website is not only accommodating to all of your users, but supports your overall website engagement. 

Next Steps

Still have questions about website accessibility? Feel free to contact us for your website ADA compliance audit. At Top Floor, our website design team crafts websites that align with compliance guidelines AND stand out in your industry. Check out some of our award winning websites!