Today, most businesses operate and maintain a website to gain new customers, showcase their brand, and provide their audience with engaging content. Many website owners are unaware of the importance of maintaining their websites in a manner accessible to all users. The ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, became law in 1990. This civil rights law requires businesses to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to all areas of public life- and this includes website content!
People with disabilities use the internet in a variety of ways and need to be able to access websites easily. Websites that are not ADA-compliant may be frustrating for users, especially those with visual or hearing impairments. When designing and maintaining a website it is critical to consider various ways users may be accessing your website. By doing so, you will be ensuring your website is friendly to those using services and devices that help them access the internet.
What Does Website A.D.A. Compliance Mean?
ADA compliance is a requirement for commercial websites and web applications. Maintaining your website in an easy-to-obtain manner means that people with various disabilities can utilize your site. As a business, this is important for attracting customers, protecting the rights of people with disabilities, and helping them find the information they need.
Currently, there are no specific regulations regarding website accessibility other than what is outlined by the W3C in their WCAG 2.1 standards (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). By following the requirements, you'll be able to ensure your website meets the needs of individuals with a wide range of disabilities, including:
Important Points To Consider For Your Website
The W3C guidelines are often described as vague, especially by those unfamiliar with the ADA. That's where their handy acronym P.O.U.R. can be helpful. P.O.U.R. stands for:
Let's dive deeper into these four categories to understand better how you can take proper steps to make your website is both accessible and engaging for all individuals. Not only will this be beneficial for individuals with disabilities, but ensuring your site is compliant with the ADA will prevent your business from potentially losing out on customers.
Issues considered perceivable pertain to any problems that would arise in preventing a user from processing the information on your website.
This is where providing content in an array of formats is beneficial. An example of making your content more perceivable would be to provide audio descriptions for any videos on your website.
Issues that create operable problems will impact website users from being able to navigate your site. Ensuring that keyboard-only commands can operate your website is a surefire method to having your content accessible to a multitude of devices.
Understandable issues prevent a website visitor from engaging with your content and understanding the information you are providing. This can prevent users from entirely navigating your website and utilizing it to its total capacity.
For example, provide helpful and concise explanations to direct users through any error messages. This will help them correct the problem and continue utilizing your website.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of maintaining an ADA-compliant website is ensuring the website's ability to continue to adapt quickly and routinely for individuals with disabilities.
Frequent testing of compatibility with screen readers and ensuring your website keeps up-to-date on the latest trends in assisting users with disabilities is what will ultimately help your website maintain ADA compliance in the long term.
Making Websites Accessible
Making information accessible means that it should be easy for people with disabilities to find it. Accessibility is not just about ensuring that your website works with screen readers and other assistive devices but also about ensuring you have good design practices.
A good rule of thumb is that someone with poor vision should be able easily read any text on a webpage. For example, if you were designing a page with a considerable amount of information, consider using an image or video over text whenever possible. This will make it considerably easier for someone who has trouble reading small print or struggling to focus their eyesight on words in front of them.
A web designer must consider all users, including those with visual and hearing impairments and those who cannot use a keyboard or mouse. Take advantage of assistive technologies: Assistive technologies such as screen readers and magnifiers are used by many disabled users to navigate the web more easily. Although these tools can help make your website more usable by all types of users, they only work if you code your site in a way that allows assistive technologies to function correctly.
If a user with a disability visits your site, it's crucial to ensure they can navigate the site without difficulty. This means checking all the links to be sure they are working, and that there are no dead ends on the page. If you have an image-heavy site, consider providing a text-only version so that users with disabilities can still access what they need without having to use their mouse to access menus or other options.
Another way to help your website’s accessibility is to be certain that your website meets Section 508 standards as well as ADA requirements. The law requires "readily achievable" accommodations for people with disabilities; this means that if you're able to fix something easily—such as an inaccessible PDF file—you must do so at once!
Here are a few ways to ensure your website is friendly to navigate for all visitors:
Consider A Professional Assistance
Ensuring your website meets the A.D.A. requirements for website accessibility is no small job. It requires dedication, a deep understanding of how different users access the internet, and thoughtful implementation to succeed.
If you're still feeling uneasy or unsure about how to incorporate these guidelines into your website's best practices, we're here to help. Contact us, and together we'll help assist you in ensuring your website features all the latest ADA-compliant guidelines.