Is my website ADA Compliant? Do all websites have to be ADA compliant? The simple answer is yes. Commercial websites are subject to ADA compliance regulations. So many business owners are unaware of this fact and, as such, their organizations may be at risk for litigation.
Understand, in 1990 the Federal Government in the United States passed the Americans With Disabilities Act. While most people are aware of this; they mistakenly may believe that this act solely requires accommodations (likes ramps for wheelchairs and accessible bathrooms) for those with physical disabilities. The act, however, is much more comprehensive; it ensures broad-based accessibility to many things including public programs. And, while it does not specifically refer to the internet, there are a number of U.S. Courts that have ruled that business websites must adhere to ADA regulations.
The Importance Of Compliance And Technology
The United States, and the world, has experienced tremendous advancements in technology. Who would have thought, almost 30 years ago, that so much business would be conducted electronically. It wasn’t even a consideration. Today, researching an organization’s website is second nature. Thus, it should not be surprising that websites must be in ADA compliance.
If you are in the process of building a new site, be sure to select a vendor who understands the guidelines and who is experienced in building sites that meet these expectations. Your website must be created in compliance with ADA regulations so as not to discriminate against users with any type of disability.
In addition to avoiding possible discrimination cases, it is also important for your site to be in compliance so that it is welcoming to all potential clients. Imagine how many individuals live with different types of disabilities (motor, visual, auditory, just to name a few). It would be unwise, as best, to build a site that is unusable for a segment of the population. If people have difficulty accessing your site (for any number of reasons) and/or cannot navigate it easily, they will simply move on to one which is more user friendly. That is business, and potentially revenue, lost.
Is Your Business ADA Compliant – Testing Your Website
A variety of testing can be done to ensure your website is in compliance. As we mentioned, working with a reputable web developer is the first step to building a compliant site. That said, you may already have an operating site, or you may update your own site personally. Here are three quick tips:
Enhance Your Site:
There are tools available to ensure that your website is usable by the broadest range of people. For example, employing audio descriptions for your content is helpful for those with vision disabilities. These individuals can listen to the content as opposed to reading it. Another thing to consider when building or adapting a website is page manipulation. Can someone move through the site using keyboard commands (such as the tab) as opposed to a mouse (which can be difficult for some to operate)? If not, you may want to consider some adaptations.
Check Your Images:
All images on your site should have alternative text (alt text) associated with them. This is important as they provide a written description for what is pictured. These can be read aloud by screen reading software (check to make sure your site is compatible with this) providing more information to those with vision issues. Additionally, alt text is beneficial to search engine optimization. Your images will appear in search results. While you can check these on your own, there are online systems to utilize as well.
You already know a visually appealing site is important. However, while some color combinations may seem attractive, many are difficult to read (for example orange text on a red background). Utilizing contrasting colors, especially text on backgrounds, makes your site easier to read. FYI, on line tools are available to test color contrast ratios.
These are only three of many areas to consider when assuring your site is ADA compliant. It is important to confirm that there are no barriers to use so that individuals of all abilities are able to easily access and navigate your site. We recommend working with your web developer to initiate a plan of compliance testing and maintenance. Leverage their knowledge and expertise in selecting additional tools to use. Also, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a list of ADA compliance checkers you may find helpful. This site can be a valuable resource.
About Notch Solutions
At Notch Solutions we are web design professionals with a complete understanding of all Federal regulations. Our sites convey our clients accurately, market their products and services appropriately and are in compliance with all ADA regulations. In addition, we can help test your site and identify issues where you may need to make adjustments and provide suggestions for those changes.
If you are looking for more information on ADA compliance and websites or have questions regarding any aspect of web development, contact us today. Our professionals are well-versed in all aspects of web development, both technological and marketing, and are ready to help you.