Covering the Basics of ADA Compliance

by Cindy Ursell, Website Health Specialist

Blind person working on computer with braille keyboard

Keeping your website ADA compliant can protect your brand from costly legal trouble. It’s also an excellent way to reach a broader audience.

What is ADA Compliance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design created guidelines to ensure web access and easy navigation for people with disabilities. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are considered the standard for ADA compliance and provide four accessibility principles. WCAG also provides three levels of conformance to meet the varying needs of those with disabilities.

A website must be:

Perceivable: The web content must be easily seen, ideally with a high contrast between the font color and background color. The site should include alternatives to text, such as audio or assistive technology.

Operable: The website needs to be easy to navigate. It must include keyboard navigation options that allow all users to interact with the content.

Understandable: The content must be logically organized, as well as easy to read and understand.

Robust: The website content must be able to be interpreted by assistive technology.

How ADA Assists Web Users

Hearing loss and vision impairments: Captions, along with magnification, color contrast and brightness options assist those with visual impairments. Captions and transcriptions help those with hearing loss.

Learning and behavioral disabilities: A simple, intuitive page layout can make it easier to find information for those with ADHD, dyslexia and other learning disabilities. You may need to remove automated/animated design elements.

Physical disabilities: People with certain physical impairments may require keyboard tab navigation and/or audible content to access web content.

Examples of ADA Compliance

Here are some tips to keep your website ADA compliant:

  • Maintain a simple layout that promotes easy navigation. The flow of your content should assist users as they browse your website.
  • Provide alternative text for images, videos and audio files. These tags describe the content in and the purpose of each element on your site.
  • Place site language in the header code to ensure text readers identity the coding and function correctly.
  • Create captions or transcripts for video and audio elements so those with hearing loss can still access your content.

Advantages of ADA Compliance

People who can easily use your website are more likely to interact with your content and complete forms. So, your efforts not only help more people use your site, they may convert more visitors into customers.

Alt texts, tags, meta-descriptions and headlines can improve search engine optimization. The more descriptive your website is, the better your SEO results.

Failure to comply with ADA regulations can lead to lawsuits and legal fees. Being proactive about your ADA compliance will provide your brand legal protection and save you money down the road.

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