What is ADA compliance?
In 2010 The United States Department of Justice released “The Americans with Disabilities Act” or ADA Standards for Web Accessible Design. This act was put in place to ensure that disabled persons can easily access a business’s website. In order to ensure that a business’s website is ADA compliant it is good practice to reference certain resources such as the Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) Guidelines and ADA compliance services. These guidelines help ensure that a business website can be readily accessible to any user in any place. This progressive approach will help a company not only increase and broaden its customer base but it will also reaffirm its commitment to serving all persons.
While creating a website that is ADA compliant sounds simple enough, there is still some debate on how this act is interpreted. Any business that fails to be ADA compliant is liable to have legal action taken against them. If a brick and mortar business with a physical building must have ramps and rails for wheelchairs then a website must be just as accommodating. It is better to have ADA compliance in mind before a website is built because it will be far easier to construct a website with these guidelines in mind than it will be to pay to go back and spend countless hours fixing a non-compliant website. If the website of a business has a large number of videos and pictures it could require more time and effort making sure that the content is easily accessed. Keeping these things in mind during the process of building your website will be far cheaper in the long run than paying for a costly lawsuit.
A WordPress site must, of course, follow all the same regulations as other websites. A Content Management System such as WordPress has a number of tools to make the process of following ADA guidelines much easier, but it is not perfect, it still requires a human to verify and ensure the website is 100% compliant. An example of violating ADA compliance that we see all the time is the failure to provide alt text on images, videos, and even inputs in a contact form or navigation links. For a visually impaired person using a screen reader to be able to navigate a website, there is a specific set of rules that must be followed or they will not know how to navigate your website and will not be able to read a contact form to even get in touch with your business. As mentioned beforehand, the best way to ensure a website follows ADA compliance is to reference the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are divided into three different levels of criteria. There is the basic level notated as A, an intermediate level notated as AA and a third more advanced level notated as AAA. Most businesses should strive to be at the second level. This will ensure that a business is going above all the basic requirements. To be at the AA level more steps must be taken in the web development process. There are fifty requirements that must be added to a website to be at this level.
One of the more basic steps that can be taken in the direction of following ADA compliance is to make a website perceivable to all. It is wise to build a website that has the functionality to be tailored to demands. Another tip is to add alternative text tags to the website’s images. A website needs to be able to be read with screen readers for the visually impaired. The website also needs to be easily navigatable. A website that automatically submits forms and changes fields without warning does not work for the visually impaired.
While building a website that follows ADA compliance may sound intimidating there are several tools available to help gauge ADA compliance status. The Google Lighthouse Accessibility Test is a great tool to check website accessibility. It is available to all google chrome users. This accessibility test will rate you a score from 1 to 100. There is also the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool that will allow you to test the contrast ratio and shows you the exact areas or elements of a website that require work.
Being aware of the guidelines of following ADA compliance is sure to improve the operations of a business. Doing the extra work beforehand will make for a more user-friendly website. Following these tips and tools when building a website will ensure it’s a success. Do you need help getting your website fully ADA compliant? Contact Us today to see how we can help!