Guest blog from B² Interactive

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. From employment opportunities to the accessibility of public areas, the ADA’s intent is to give those with disabilities the same opportunities as everyone else. This also applies to internet use.

In this post, we cover the basics of ADA compliance for websites to get you up to speed on the basic principles and why you should care.

Why Having an ADA Compliant Website Matters

Why should this matter to you? There are a few really good reasons. 

  1. Nearly one in five Americans have a disability according to the United States Census Bureau. Accommodating this 19% of the U.S. population should be a priority not only because they deserve the same opportunity as others to consume web content, but also because ignoring such a large group of potential visitors is also a significant missed opportunity from a business perspective.
  2. Consumers are becoming more aware of these requirements and beginning to expect businesses to follow them.
  3. In 2017, Winn Dixie was found liable under Title III of the ADA for having an inaccessible website. In this instance, areas of the website weren’t usable by a blind user. This verdict has resulted in more awareness and more lawsuits being filed.

Following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or (WCAG) provide the principles, guidelines, success criteria, and sufficient and advisory techniques to make your website ADA compliant. For full details, you can learn more here. Below, we’ll provide a basic look into the four main principles.

Principle #1: Your Web Content Must Be Perceivable

This simply means that the content and components on your website must be presentable in a way that all users can perceive. For example, all non-text content needs to have a text alternative.

The most popular example of this would be ALT text for pictures that describe what the picture is. Another example would be a text alternative for audio and video to allow those with hearing disabilities to consume that content.

Principle #2: Your Website Must Be Operable

The basic idea here is that the interface components and navigation of your site must be operable for users with disabilities. This includes making sure the entire website is accessible through only the use of a keyboard, that users have enough time to consume the content, that the design of the website doesn’t contain content that’s known to cause seizures, and that there are ways for disabled users to navigate the site and determine where they are.

Principle #3: Make the Website Understandable

This means that webpages should clearly identify the human language being used, should operate in predictable ways, and offer input assistance to allow users to avoid or correct mistakes.

Principle #4: Content Must Be Robust Enough to Be Interpreted Reliably

The basics of this are that content must use markup and other elements to allow for assistive technologies and other tools to interpret the content for the user.

What Should You Do Now?

With more attention being given to the topic, it’s a good idea for businesses to become aware of how accessible their websites are and think about taking the necessary steps to meet ADA compliance standards.

It’s very possible that your website is completely accessible or that updates would be minimal, but it’s worth figuring out by auditing your website or hiring an agency with ADA compliance experience.