You may not know it but your website and mobile apps now must be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Odds are, your original developer didn’t mention that fact.
Not sure how to check if your current website is ADA Compliant? Their website has some tips or you can contact a web design company that is well-versed in the accessibility rule to evaluate your site.
Updating your compliance does come with benefits: First, you’ll avoid legal issues, it supports your SEO strategy and offers users a better experience when they visit your site.
Americans with Disabilities Act For Web Accessibility
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been in law since 1990, well before the Internet became what it is today.
When you think about the ADA laws set in place, the first things that come to mind are designated parking spaces, wheelchair ramps, public bathrooms with handicap stalls and braille writing on signage at local businesses and institutions.
What doesn’t come to mind is your website. More than likely when you hired a web development company to build it, there was no discussion or mention about ensuring the website meets ADA web accessibility requirements.
The internet is used so widely used now that ADA compliance also applies to websites and mobile apps. This means your website now needs to be accessible to people who have disabilities that affect their hearing, vision or physical capacities. If its not, prepare to be sued at some point for not complying.
United States Internet Users and People With Disabilities Statistics
There are approximately 275 million internet users in the United States who access the Internet in 2018-2019 and this number will continue to grow. Now take into account that there are approximately 40.7 million people of the population have a disability in the United States. This accounts for approximately 12.8% of the entire US population.
Web Accessibility Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The new rule states that if you had content on your website prior of January 18, 2018, its covered under a safe harbor clause. This means as long as it meets the ADA law requirements prior to this date, its considered compliant. If not, you’ll need to update your website or have it completely redone to become compliant.
If you’re unsure where to get started, the ADA’s website has some tips. You can also contact a web design agency to find out if your website is currently ADA compliant and how you can change it if it’s not.
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
The World Wide Web Consortium’s is committed to helping make the Internet more usable for people with disabilities by developing the Web Accessibility Initiative. WAI works together with organizations all around the world including government agencies, disability organizations, research groups and others to ensure people who have disabilities can access and use websites and mobile apps.
3 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Website ADA Web Accessible
If you are wondering if it’s worth your while to make your website compliant, here are 3 reasons why you should do it.
Better Website Usability & User Experience
By making your website ADA compliant you are not only making it easier for disabled people to find your web pages, it can also help make your website more user-friendly for all website visitors. Editing elements like changing font colors and sizes, rewriting web content to include H tags or swapping out background colors could result in a better user experience. These changes could result in an increase in leads and sales because it’s easier to navigate your website links and read your online content.
Helps Improves Your SEO Efforts
A lot of the tactics used for optimizing websites for organic search are also tactics used to make websites ADA compliant. On-page SEO elements such as META tags, ALT image text and video transcripts are some of the more notable ones. These make it easy for screen readers to crawl your web page for content like search engines do when they spider a website. If you currently do search engine optimization to your website, you’re already fixing your website to meet web accessibility requirements.
Avoid Legal Penalties and Lawsuits
Here in our local area, Palm Beach County, there have been several city websites that have been pulled in fear of getting sued for not being ADA compliant. The City of Lake Worth took down its website on April 2, 2019 and the City of Atlantis did it on April 8th. This is to prevent a future lawsuit from being filed for being in violation of ADA requirements.
While these are local entities that are taking measures, there have been a lot of recent lawsuits filed recently. When I say a lot, I mean a TON! Just do a quick Google search for “ADA website lawsuits” and you’ll see hundreds of articles about colleges, businesses and even celebrities getting sued for not meeting web accessibility requirements.
How To Check A Website To Make Sure It Is ADA Compliant
The first step is to check your website to make sure it meets ADA web accessibility requirements. I’m including two resources you can use. One will educate you and the other is an online tool that scans your website.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Guidelines
W3C WAI offers documentation that helps explain how to make your website and web content more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines are intended for web designers, website and mobile app developers and content writers to ensure your site meets ADA web accessibility requirements.
Check out the WCAG Guidelines by visiting: https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/
WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
Conduct an audit of your site using a WAVE Web Accessibility Tool. Google Chrome’s WAVE Tool is a great tool to look for accessible issues, including missing alt tags, styles, etc.
How To Make Your WordPress Website ADA Compliant
There are a lot of elements that go into making a website ADA compliant, Here are a few suggestions for things you can do to help make your website compliant.
- All images require alt tags so screen reader and players can describe these graphics to the website visitor aka user.
- Review your website structure to fix styles, fonts, color and on-page content that may make it hard for people with disabilities to read your web pages. An example of this is using small or lightly colored text that is difficult to read.
- Create headlines and sub-lines using H tag headings to break up the content on the page which makes it easier to read and follow.
- When writing content, keep it conversational. People with disabilities who are using screen readers will appreciate it.
- Review your website code and CSS to meet ADA web accessibility requirements. An example of this is to add an id to the form element which looks like this <input type=”text” name=”FirstName” id=”FirstName“>.