A number of business owners that we’ve talked to are growing more concerned about their website and how their business could be affected by ADA compliance. Lawsuits are up, even though the law remains unclear.
*It’s important to note that I am not a lawyer. I had a lot of help putting this together but it is not intended to be legal advice. If you are in the process of being sued consult an attorney.
This could be a good opportunity for your business.
It turns out than many of the elements required to make a website more accessible are the same elements that we address when optimizing websites to rank better in search engines such as Google. It can also expand your audience by making the content accessible to people with disabilities.
Both cases could help improve the amount of quality leads coming in through your website.
Here is a third-party free tool that we use to help identify some of the challenges a website may have regarding ADA compliance.
If this feels overwhelming, you’re not alone. Feel free to reach out with any questions and we will do our best to help.
What is ADA?
The ADA is also known as the Americans with Disabilities Act. This Act affects how buildings are designed, how schools operate, how government agencies are run, and even how websites are created. The idea is to make sure those with disabilities are not excluded from any area of life.
When discussing ADA compliance regarding website design, the intention is to make sure anyone from anywhere in the world can access and use your website. As technology has continued to grow, specific guidelines (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG) have been developed to help ensure web content is accessible to people with disabilities, making use of the web a more even playing field.
The Elements of the WCAG
The WCAG has specific elements that every website must address when following website ADA Compliance Guidelines. First, the website must follow four distinct principles. It must be:
These principles then lead to thirteen guidelines. These guidelines are designed to aid the designers and authors of the website when working to adhere to the four principles. They include:
- Text Alternatives
- Time-Based Media
- Keyboard Accessible
- Plenty of Time
- Adherence to the Seizure and Physical Restriction Threshold
- Input Modalities
- Input Assistance
In addition to the principles and guidelines, the WCAG provides success criteria in which specific testing must meet the defined levels of conformance are conducted. Website compliance can be rated: A, AA, or AAA based on the success criteria testing.
Finally, there are a wide variety of techniques provided to either make the website sufficient or advisable under the confines of the ADA.
The Specifics of the WCAG
Each of the standards for website design as outlined by the WCAG is intended to make the website ADA compliant and useable for anyone who has a disability as defined under the ADA.
For example, creating a website that has a text option will greatly help those who may be considered legally blind or have difficulty seeing items up close.
Also, using color coding for different areas of the site and allowing to change the colors from a white background with black lettering to a darker background with lighter lettering may also allow those with difficulty seeing better accessibility to the content on the website. There is even the option to include closed captioning for videos and sound clips to read the website content, which aids those that are hard of hearing or even deaf.
Finally, the WCAG addresses the issues relating to seizures and other medical issues covered under the ADA. Technology is known for using the latest and greatest items to make anything stand out from the crowd. This also applies to website design. Designers want their websites to stand out. If they are creating a site for something considered hi-tech, they may be drawn to flashing lights or loud noises. Adhering to the WCAG will still allow these designs, within reason.
- LA Times - Lawsuits targeting business websites over ADA violations are on the rise
- Law.com - ADA Lawsuits Are on the Rise, Website Complaints Biggest Targets
Making sure your website compliance is up to the standards set by the WCAG will help you attract a larger client base and help keep you relevant in Google and other search engines. This could be a very good opportunity to expand your audience and grow your business.