If you are wondering what “ADA compliant” refers to, then let’s start there.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires that all “places of public accommodation” be accessible to those with disabilities. This has been interpreted by US courts to include websites. So what does this mean for you, as a website owner?
While there are specific regulations for federally funded websites, websites that do not fall under these regulations still need to comply with the law and be accessible to all online users.
From a legal standpoint, U.S. courts and the Department of Justice (DOJ) reference the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA success criteria as a standard to gauge whether websites are accessible. These guidelines are comprehensive, but they are also long and difficult to understand and therefore to implement.
Thankfully, your website can still be accessible by following the simpler Web Accessibility Standards (WAS), published last month (June 2019). These standards were distilled from the WCAG guidelines into a shorter and clearer checklist of points. For the complete detailed list, see the article by Kris Rivenburgh, which this blog post was adapted from.
In WAS, there are five main areas of compliance. *Please reference the linked article above for all specific items, as the list below is a summary of the main points.
This includes items such as descriptive text, form labels and a hierarchy of headings on a page.
Sufficient color contrast (at least 4.5:1) and noticeable text links are the most important components here, but consistency in layout and navigation is also important.
All images should have descriptive text in the form of alt text, videos should have transcripts and close captioning.
The user must have control over any moving items (with the exception of rotating ads); there should be no popups, no auto-play video or audio, i.e. nothing that will startle a user or cause them to lose their place on a website page.
All website functions must be accessible using only a keyboard, your site uses focus indicators, and a website search is available.
Besides being the “right thing to do”, and the law, having your website accessible to all readers can benefit your business, too, as 20% of people have a disability. You could be significantly increasing your customer base.
If you’re feeling ambitious – or just curious – and want to review your site for compliance, I would suggest the following tools.
AXE – a Chrome extension
WAVE: Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool – an online analyzer
ANDI: Accessible Name & Description Inspector – this is my personal favorite, developed by the Social Security Administration
If you would prefer that Ryder Web Development review your website and apply any fixes needed for you, please contact us and we would be happy to help.
For more information on this topic, there is a helpful article with links to further reading on the Cape Cod Tech Council website.