ADA Compliance

July 1, 2020

What is ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (also known as ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law that was enacted to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. Title III of the ADA mandates that all “places of public accommodation” (all business open to the public) are legally required to remove any “access barriers” that would hinder a disabled person’s access to that business’s goods or services. Websites with significant inaccessible components can be seen as discriminatory against persons with disabilities, in violation of Title III of the ADA

Who benefits from accessibility?

ADA compliant websites provide better user experience for people with disabilities. These also include users:

  • using mobile phones, smart watches, smart TVs and other devices with small screens, different input modes, etc.
  • with changing abilities due to aging
  • with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm or lost glasses
  • with “situational limitations” such as in bright sunlight or in an environment where they cannot listen to audio
  • using a slow internet connection or who have limited or expensive bandwidth

What does ADA mean for websites?

U.S. courts and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have frequently referenced the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA success criteria as a standard to gauge whether websites are accessible.

What Is WCAG?

The WCAG is a set of accessibility standards created by the World Wide Web Consortium in partnership with various other groups to help guide web content producers in making their work more accessible to all, including users with disabilities. WCAG 2.0 is the technical standard featuring 12 guidelines under four categories:

  • Perceivable – ensure all content ad media is usable by all.
    • Images should have Alternate tags/descriptions
    • Videos should have captions
    • Proper color contrast
  • Operable. – having a website that can be navigated with a keyboard, making sure moving sections can be paused if a user needs more time, Ensuring pages and sections are clearly labeled
  • Understandable. – The language of the page should be programmatically identifiable, Navigation is consistent across the website, Areas of the website that require user input (like contact forms) have ample instructions included.
  • Robust.– website’s code is “robust” enough to help assistive readers understand the code.

Each of the 12 guidelines contains testable “success criteria” which can be used to measure the usability of your website.

How do we go about making our website ADA compliant?

Accessibility often naturally flows from good design. This means that your website should be designed to deliver a great experience for all its visitors, whether or not they have a disability. Following are some design tips:

  • Color Contrasting – design for sufficient contrast between the color of the text and the color of the background; Avoid putting a light font color on a light background;
  • Fonts – use fonts that are easy to read; and make fonts larger
  • Use Alt Image Text – Make sure the images on your website have descriptive alt tags. Alt tags are used by screen readers, players, and voiceovers to describe elements on a website to users.
  • Analyze Site Logic Flow – make sure that forms on your site are labeled properly and make sure that form fields are in a logical tab order. make your site accessible to those who can’t use a mouse
  • Headings – Use headings correctly to organize the structure of your content.
  • Links – Give your links unique and descriptive names. (Example: Try not to say: “Click here to read about our company.”; instead say “To learn more about our company, read About Us.”
  • Add captions for Video & Audio Content– Videos or Audios on your site should be close captioned so that those with hearing disabilities can follow along
  • Content management System – if you are about to build a new website, choose a content management system that supports accessibility. Common examples include Drupal and WordPress, but there are many other options available.

How can I test ADA compliance on my website?

U.S. courts and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have frequently referenced the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA success criteria as a standard to gauge whether websites are accessible.

At Planeteria, we rely on the following free tools to explore and test site accessibility:

ADA compliance is considered a best practice even if your organization isn’t a federal agency or legally required to meet web accessibility standards. Practicing it can help protect you from lawsuits, and above all, will create equal opportunity for all users on your site.

If you need advice on creating an ADA compliant website, or updating your site to meet guidelines, we are here to help. Let us know how we can support you on your journey toward an ADA compliant website.

Did you know?

The most common form of color deficiency, red-green color deficiency, affects approximately 8% of the population. Using ONLY colors such as these (especially to indicate required fields in a form) will prevent these individuals from understanding your message.