Does My Website Need to be ADA Compliant?

So you’ve had your company website built, and it’s feature-rich and aesthetically pleasing, as well as offering all the information website visitors are looking for. And then someone asks you if your website is ADA compliant, and your mind goes blank as you ponder the answer.

Maybe you didn’t know that there are some types of disabilities that may make it difficult for some to properly access, view, and utilize your website—and that’s okay—it’s something that tends to be out of mind when focusing on all the other aspects of website design.

However, it is advisable that you ensure your website is, in fact, ADA compliant; and if it isn’t, make the necessary adjustments as quickly as possible. If you don’t, you not only risk losing potential customers and clients who are unable to use your website, but you also open yourself to the risk of a lawsuit.

What Does ADA Compliant Mean?

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that commercial and public entities provide access and accommodation for individuals with a range of disabilities. That’s why nearly every establishment you frequent will have handicapped parking spaces, wheelchair ramps, and bathrooms that can accommodate individuals with disabilities.

In 2010, the law was amended to include websites as well, since they were also classified as a “place of public accommodation.” However, according to the current standards, you may be wondering if your website actually needs to be ADA compliant.

How Do I Make My Website ADA Compliant?

The final standards for website accessibility have yet to be officially released (the standards are expected sometime in 2018). However, there is a current standard that businesses can utilize as a guideline— the WCAG 2.0 level AA technical requirements. Established in conjunction with Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), these standards serve as a highly useful reference tool.

Additionally, the guidelines also showcase exactly how some disabilities may affect people when they try to view your website and what steps you can take to ensure interaction.

Consider taking the following steps to ensure your website is ADA compliant:

1. Make Sure the HTML is Clean

Proper HTML utilizes meta descriptions, title tags, bulleted lists, and other components that ensure visually impaired individuals can easily locate items on the web pages, and that screen readers can efficiently locate and read content.

2. Offer Text Alternatives

If your website includes graphics and videos that display pertinent information, you’ll need to include text alternatives for those that may not be able to effectively view the multimedia.

3. Offer a Simplified Version of Your Website

Understandably, you are proud of how your website looks, but offering a simplified version can make it easier for individuals with a variety of disabilities to easily find content and navigate the site. Simply separating the content into different sections in a basic layout can make things much easier for many.

4. Offer a High Contrast Option

Individuals with visual impairments can often read a web page better if the contrast is high. You can design your website with this in mind, or offer an option for pages that can be viewed in higher contrast.

5. Avoid Flashing Graphics

Flashing graphics or videos with flashing lights or images that move very rapidly can cause seizures in individuals with some disabilities or those that may be susceptible to the effects.

6. Include Keyboard Support

Not everyone will be able to use a mouse to navigate to different areas of the site and click on tabs. Keyboard support enables visitors to the site to move around the web page using keys on the keyboard.

7. Include ARIA Landmarks

This refers to Accessible Rich Internet Applications, which means individuals that are utilizing assistive technologies to read a web page can easily ascertain what they are reading, where on the web page the content is located, and what actions they can take next.

Why Else Should You Care About ADA Compliance?

Aside from the legal ramifications, it’s just a good business decision to ensure that your website is ADA compliant. When you stop thinking of your website as just a visual representation of your brand, you open your website to an audience of 60 million disabled Americans. And since over 70% of potential customers will leave a website if it isn’t accessible, it’s in your best interests as a business to be sure that it is. Think of it as another form of search engine optimization—only instead of optimizing your website via keywords and other Internet marketing methods for search engines, you are optimizing it for a large audience of individuals with disabilities who are just as much a potential part of your target market as anyone else.

Making your website ADA compliant isn’t overly difficult—it essentially entails inserting tools, code, and other functions and features that enable individuals with disabilities to utilize their own tools in conjunction with your website. For example, a visually impaired person can use a braille display or a screen reader, while an individual with hearing loss of limited mobility can utilize other devices to access and use your website.

At 3 Media Web, our team can offer assistance in ensuring ADA website compliance for all our clients. Offering consultation on all aspects of WCAG 2.0 and helping you keep up-to-date on new additions and changes to the current regulations, you’ll be able to identify and adjust problematic areas of your website, subsequently enabling all individuals with disabilities to effectively access and utilize your website without difficulty. Contact us today for more information about ADA website compliance.

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