ADA Website Compliance
Our certified web accessibility experts know how to achieve compliance and reduce legal risk. We can help you handle complaints and avoid costly, unpredictable lawsuits.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
We run into ADA issues quite often these days whether we walk into buildings that do not enable ramps for the handicapped, or businesses that do not have wheelchair-friendly restroom stalls, or websites with color contrast issues and no alternate text on images. As a result, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by George W. Bush. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with all types of disabilities by employers.
Goals of ADA
One of the main goals of ADA is to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the typical American life which includes enjoying opportunities, purchasing goods and services in person or online via a website, and participating in government programs and services.
The ADA standards are developed and managed by the Access Board and both the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation are responsible for enforcing the standards.
Web Accessibility & ADA Standards
Technology forces us to think about accessibility in a broader context than even our physical environment. It’s not just whether a person requires a wheelchair. A person could be visually impaired or have a motor disability. A person could have slower internet or an older browser. With a graying population, some are not familiar with the modern user interface (UI) pattern.
Both temporary and permanent disabilities affect web accessibility including disabilities such as
Adherence to web accessibility standards and guidance provided by the ADA benefits all users. Clarification of the ADA and other accessibility laws have increasingly expanded to include online content. This means that websites must support assistive technology such as screen reader programs, which read aloud web pages to help the visually impaired. Including screen reader and other accessibility support ensures that everyone has equal opportunities to access your web content.
WCAG 2.1 & ADA Compliance
In March 2022, the Department of Justice issued web accessibility guidance under the ADA. The guidance references the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, otherwise known as WCAG, as standards for web accessibility and guidance on conformance. WCAG covers a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible. It is produced by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), which is part of W3C–the international community who develops Web standards.
WCAG consists of success criteria written as testable statements that are not technology-specific and are categorized into three levels of compliance:
|Level||Impact||Examples of requirements|
|Level A||A basic or minimal impact||Text alternatives, keyboard access, prerecorded video captions|
|Level AA||Includes level A and is a mid-level or “happy medium” and most often referenced in legal complaints||Color contrast, descriptive headings and labels, live video captions|
|Level AAA||Includes level A and level AA and provides an advanced or optimal level of accessibility||Enhanced color contrast, abbreviation definitions, sign language for prerecorded audio|
Be Accessible recommends meeting WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance. WCAG 2.1 is the newest and latest guideline. WCAG 2.2 is scheduled to finalize in September 2022 at which time we will recommend 2.2 conformance. We stay ahead of regulation and recommend you do the same.
Use our free WCAG 2.1 Checklist to help you test your website’s accessibility.
How ADA Regulations Affect Businesses
The ADA standards are developed and managed by the U.S. Access Board and both the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation are responsible for enforcing the standards.
The Department of Justice issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2010 to ensure that ADA applies to all businesses with more than 15 employees and its respective websites public and private. Just as your brick-and-mortar business must be accessible to all customers, the same goes for your website. Each year ADA compliance litigations filed by advocacy groups and law firms across the U.S. are on a significant rise, and your company is also at risk of possible lawsuits.
Online accessibility standards are complex and at times, subjective. Many companies are not aware that their sites are required to be ADA compliant. Unfortunately, many businesses have learned of this requirement via contact by an advocacy group or law firm for remediation.
Aside from avoiding legal ramifications, there are many other reasons why ADA compliance is important including:
- Improved lives of people with disabilities
- Better usability for all visitors
- Improved metrics (ex. less time spent on the website, higher rate of completed tasks, etc.)
- Improved search engine optimization (SEO)
- Minimized risk of bad press and litigation
- Increased sales revenue and new customers
Usability & Accessibility Testing
Usability testing is a technique used to evaluate a product by testing it on potential users. Accessibility testing is a subset of usability testing. It is used to determine whether the product will be able to be used by individuals with disabilities whether with the help of automated accessibility testing software or sample workflow audits performed by web engineers or blind individuals.
Individuals with visual disabilities use assistive technologies like screen reader programs to help them read the text that is displayed on the screen. Assistive technologies are equipment or system used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. These types of assistive technologies are generally always used during usability testing.
Web Accessibility Standards
Web accessibility is a vast topic but many rules are constant:
- Provide semantic and descriptive HTML that reflects the intended purpose
- Include alternative text for images and non-text content
- Present clear and readable content that doesn’t make assumptions about what your audience knows
- Provide keyboard access to all website functionality
- Provide dynamic accessibility, not brittle – if a user is facing any issue, your store has to be able to respond to feedback and fix the issue
- Complete usability testing by trying your website on different machines/browsers/assistive technology
- Provide a responsive design that is open to magnification
- Minimize blinking, flashing, or distracting features which can cause seizures
- Make PDF content accessible or even better, provide it in HTML
- Provide clear, descriptive, and easily discernible links including the appearance and the title
- Prevent errors with clear instructions on the website and identify errors as they occur
- Provide sufficient color contrast by selecting mindful color combinations for your website (background vs. foreground text)
Achieve Your ADA Compliance Goals Today
Be Accessible, Inc. will provide your company with a low-cost website and mobile application audit that will bring your business towards ADA compliance. With our 3-Step Solution, we’ll first utilize top-rated automated software to log the location of distinct errors on your site. Next, our experienced web auditors will manually inspect a representative sample of your website or app to identify the greatest accessibility issues. Lastly, we’ll bring blind individuals into a lab and conduct usability testing of your website or mobile app. We aim to repair your site with little effect on your development team as possible. We’ll work closely to train how to integrate accessibility into your online processes. We also can provide on-site ADA training for your business in order to spread awareness about disabilities in the workplace and teach you how to eliminate accessibility issues.
We reduce your legal risk, bring you to ADA compliance, and broaden the circle that can fully benefit from your site.