Is Your Website ADA Compliant? Should it be?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was introduced in 1990 to help the millions of Americans who live with a disability. Webstix has been active in making sure that our clients who request ADA compliant websites conform to the industry standards set by WCAG 2.0 – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, so that people with disabilities can navigate through websites we design.
The goal of ADA compliance is to create the website in such a manner that a person with epilepsy, for example, can use the website without risk of seizure. Or, as another example, a vision-impaired person using a screen reader (or screen reader browser plugins like ChromeVox) can order their groceries or access their bank account. The goal of ADA Compliance is fairness and bringing to the Web the same inclusiveness that can be found in brick-and-mortar establishments that also comply with the ADA.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) administers the WCAG and serves as the arbiter of the Internet. WCAG 2.0 Compliance comes in three levels (less compliant to more compliant / easiest to hardest):
Important Note: WCAG AAA compliance relates 100% with Section 508, which severely impacts design, performance and look / feel. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has admitted that 508 compliance (AAA) is not practical, which is why A and AA are the acceptable standards.
Understanding Level A & AA WCAG Compliance
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) breaks it down into four different types for changes, known as POUR:
Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive (e.g. have alt image attributes that say what the image actually does, like “Submit Form Button” or “Girl with a puppy.”)
Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable (e.g. you must be able to navigate the site using a keyboard as well as a mouse).
Understandable: Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable, (e.g. error messaging on a form should make sense; instead of “Invalid field” messaging, use ‘The Email field must be in using a valid email format’).
Robust: Content must be robust enough so it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. In other words, don’t use tags or code that only certain browsers understand.
ADA Compliance Steps/Guide
- Your website title should be unique, brief and should describe the content of the page.
- Content should be organized and readable – there should be at least one heading tag or strong tag in every page of the website.
- Heading tags should come in an order.
- For instance: A page with headings listed in order as: h2, h1, h3 is not acceptable.
- Text that looks like a heading should be marked up as a heading and it should be relevant to that content.
- Form controls and drop-down lists should be keyboard accessible (we do keyboard checks for all forms).
- Some people find it hard to read text if there is no sufficient contrast between the text and background.
- For instance: A gray text on a light background.
- We make sure web pages have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal-size text.
- Text should be readable if resized.
- Alt text will be added for any multimedia, images or videos.
- Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
- Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
- When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.
- When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.
- Web pages shall be designed in such a way that all information conveyed with color is also available without color.
After this work is done, you will need to follow these standards in order to keep your website ADA compliant.
Do Websites Have to be ADA Compliant?
Your website might look nice and be easy to use but it’s possible you could receive a threatening letter from a lawyer with an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) claim against your company/website. They might try to say that if your website is connected with a physical (retail) location, then ADA applies.
Is it likely that you’ll get one of these letters asking that you comply and pay legal fees? No, but claims are on the rise.
If your company/organization does work in an industry where you need to be absolutely sure you’re ADA compliant at your physical location, then it might be a good idea to make sure your website is also ADA compliant.
We’re not lawyers, so if you’re concerned about this, you should seek legal counsel regarding this issue.
Are All Webstix Websites ADA Compliant?
Only clients that request that their website be ADA Compliant will end up with websites that are compliant when delivered. This extra work must be itemized in their project proposal. Just because we created a website does not mean it’s automatically ADA compliant. We must also agree on which level of ADA Compliance they wish to achieve.
If you need this done with your website redesign project, please do let us know.
ADA Compliance Tools
Webstix will use the following validation tools for the ADA Compliance:
NOTE: Webstix will use these tools to verify ADA compliance. However, if you have a preference for a different verification tool, please let us know.
Get Your Website ADA Compliant
Give your website every possible advantage over your competition and make sure your website works well for people with disabilities.
If you are a Webstix client and want your website ADA Compliant or if you’ve had your website developed elsewhere, we can help you get in compliance. Contact Webstix to find out more about pricing and helpful information today.