ADA Compliance for Websites

February 3, 2021

Legal disclaimer: ADA compliance is a legal matter. The information in the article below should not be considered as legal advice. Please consult your attorney for legal advice on ADA compliance.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a document developed by the United States in 1990 to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as others. Companies operating in the public sector are required by this document to be accessible to persons with reduced mobility. But what does the ADA have to do with websites and website design?

Today, the virtual marketplace is widely used and ADA compliance for websites is a must. It is beginning to replace shops and buildings physically constructed for commercial purposes. Compliance with the ADA has also become mandatory for online companies and shops. This applies to their website as well as to any mobile apps, such as those on Android or iOS. Heavy penalties are imposed for non-compliance with the ADA.

Okay, but what does that mean? It is quite straightforward. Your virtual platform must be suitable for people with disabilities. Title III of the ADA requires that all public sites have a legal obligation to remove any barriers that may limit access by persons with disabilities to the company's goods or services.

Regardless of the nature or size of your business, you can incur tens of thousands of dollars in fines if you do not comply with these accessibility rules. Not sure whether your website is ADA compliant? This article will show you the importance of becoming aware of the ADA digital requirements.

What is ADA Disabilities Accessibility Compliance for Websites?

ADA compliance for websites is based on a civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas of public life, including:

  • Employment
  • Schools
  • Transportation

The Act grants all persons with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the same rights and opportunities as others. These civil rights requirements are similar to those granted on the basis of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Religion

Most people with disabilities rely on adaptive devices to use a computer. Accessibility technologies include computer programs or devices such as:

  • Screen readers
  • Text magnification software
  • Voice control programs

These devices, unfortunately, are limited. Imagine having a wheelchair to help you get around but the building you want to enter is not wheelchair friendly. There is nothing you can do! The same goes for websites. Accessibility problems are a common mistake by web designers. They wrongly assume that everyone sees and accesses a company’s services in the same way. You should not ignore the ADA guidelines and requirements.

ADA Compliance Means Web Accessibility is There For All Users

When appropriate features are incorporated into web pages, they are accessible to everyone equally. Not only can people with disabilities benefit from the offered services, but other people can find their way around more easily on pages that are often too complex.

In addition, the implementation of these changes is not challenging. More accessibility does not affect the design and overall look of the brand.

Simple Web Design Changes to Avoid Big Penalties for ADA Compliance for Websites

In the original text of the ADA from 1990, the digital world was not mentioned. Why? Because websites didn’t become common until later in the 1990s. Today, a company can rarely operate without its own website. But even if everyone has a virtual platform, only a few are accessible to all. The ADA law has been expanded to include websites. From now on, all updated pages of your website must be at least level A. The AAA level is the highest.

As a result, significant legal action has recently increased. Among the most famous victims of this new accessibility ADA regulations are:

  • Foot Locker
  • Brooks Brothers
  • Kylie Jenner

But who's the real victim? People whose access to basic services and goods is blocked due to non-compliance on websites.

Unless changed after January 18, 2018, your current content and marketing strategy may remain as they are. This is due to the safe harbor clause. However, all sites that have been updated after this date are affected by these ADA instructions. To save you the legal costs in case of non-compliance with the ADA, you need to make the necessary changes to your website now. ADA compliance for websites such as yours is crucial!

Common Problems and Best Solutions for ADA Compliance

Here are some of the most common web accessibility issues as well as the guidelines to follow to solve them.

1) Use a text corresponding to each image

People with a handicap that affects their ability to read a computer screen use screen readers and refreshable Braille screens. But even the best content reader tools do not allow for the interpretation of:

  • Photographs
  • Graphics
  • Color-coded information/pricing
  • Other graphic elements

By adding a line of simplified HTML code for each image, you will allow the visually disabled user to fully grasp the information. Add an HTML tag type, such as an alt tag for small amounts of text or a longdesc tag for larger amounts of text.

2) Display important documents in text format

Many companies and local authorities publish documents on their websites in PDF files. The problem with this format is that it is image-based. As a result, blind people cannot access basic and essential content.

Even if you want to continue to use your PDF documents, make sure you also provide documents in alternative text formats, such as HTML or RTF. This is important as text-based formats offer greater compatibility with assistive technologies for people with disabilities.

3) Incorporate audio captions and descriptions

In order for videos to be accessible to all, they must incorporate features that make them available in different forms. To do this, make changes to the standards and the marketing approach. Provide text captions synchronized with the video images to ensure that those with hearing impairments can follow along with any video you upload.

How Can Your Business Benefit From Complying With ADA?

1) Increase your target audience

A site that is not accessible to all users is an automatic loss of thousands of potential customers. This is not because the quality of your products or services is subpar, but rather this is because these users cannot access your content because of their disability.

There are nearly 50 million people with disabilities in the US alone. This number is even larger if you are operating worldwide.

Many of your website's visitors may be interested in your products or services, but they are unable to navigate your site or even contact you. Your competitors can take advantage of your lack of web accessibility and serve these particular potential customers better. Get ADA compliance for your website to serve potential customers better.

2) Boost your SEO results

A key element of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is its accessibility to screen readers. These screen readers browse the pages of your website in the same way as search engines do. By complying with the WCAG standards, you will make your content more attractive for:

  • Users with or without disability
  • Search engines
  • Screen readers

This may improve your SEO campaign. It may also help with conversion rate optimization. Consider the use of:

  • Meta tags
  • Alternative image texts
  • Video transcripts
  • Accessible pricing

3) Enhance your company's reputation

After you increase your site’s accessibility, you will not only have more customers, but these customers will feel reassured, taken care of, and treated well. They will remain loyal and reflect an extremely positive image of your brand. They can also refer you to other customers and advertise you for free. This is especially the case if your competitors are not ADA compliant.

4) Improve navigation on your site

By making your web pages easier to understand, you will allow everyone to find what they are looking for faster. The website will be easier to use and navigate. This will benefit all users while also respecting the WCAG standards. A good experience on your website increases the chances of converting visitors into customers.

Considerations When Developing Websites with Web Accessibility

As technology evolves, web designers are constantly providing creative and innovative solutions. They are looking for ways to make their company's presentation stand out. All this is of course important, but don't forget to stay ADA compliant while doing this!

Here are some features you should keep in mind when designing your website:

  • Add a link at the top of web pages that allows screen reader users to jump directly to your site's content
  • Limit flickering, flashy colors or other distracting signs
  • Develop online forms that include detailed HTML tags
  • Ensure that notifications and sound announcements are played automatically
  • Provide a second static copy of pages that automatically refresh or need a scheduled response.
  • Focus on quality header structures to help users navigate through complex pages or elements.

Make Your Website Compliant Today!

Not sure where to start? Contact your attorney. This is a legal matter. We also recommend Accessibe - they may be able to advise you on the next steps to get your website ADA compliant.

Robert , founder of Nimbus Marketing, with his family on the porch of their Westchester home
Robert Portillo, founder of Nimbus Marketing, and his family.

About the author:

Robert Portillo is the founder of Nimbus Marketing. Nothing satisfies him more than expressing his thoughts well. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. He can often be found at local farmer’s markets, hiking trails, and the beach.

We hope you found our website to be unique and memorable. We’d like to help make your website unique and increase your sales.
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