Chances are that you have had to learn and apply ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations to your brick-and-mortar store — but what about your website? Many businesses do not realize there are rules that govern their websites and, unfortunately, a number of companies have only learned about Website ADA Compliance thanks to demand letters from lawyers representing visually-impaired clients. These letters typically come with a hefty payment demand to avoid a lawsuit and the requirement of action to meet ADA website compliance requirements promptly.
We want you to avoid the stress and high cost of a demand like this. More problematic is the lack of understanding that even websites are required to meet ADA rules.
Author’s Note: We are marketing experts, not lawyers here at Amplify 11. This is not legal advice, but rather an effort to bring this matter to your attention so that you can decide how to proceed. If you need legal advice, you should speak with a lawyer.
A number of companies have only learned about Website ADA Compliance thanks to demand letters from lawyers representing visually-impaired clients.
Understanding ADA rules for websites
The core concept behind the Website ADA Compliance law is that everything available to the public must be available to all. This leaves vagueness as to how a website owner needs to make their site available to the visually impaired. Courts have come down on both sides of this matter. In 2017, Winn-Dixie lost a case related to making their site ADA compliant. This has opened the flood gates to an increasing number of claims because of the as-yet unsettled requirements of the law.
Standards for ADA compliance on the web
Of course, you could stick your head in the sand and hope that you do not get one of these letters, but there are other options that you might want to consider. The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are rules adopted by many countries around the world. These more specifically define the requirements for accessibility as it relates to those with visual impairments. Many companies have adopted this standard to come in line with the accepted global standard and to have a defined policy to support and respect these customers.
Implementing ADA standards on your website
The implementation of a plan to follow the WCA Guidelines will take deliberate effort on you part. Here are some of the key actions steps:
- Alt Text – This is text that you add to each meaningful image on your website. It simply states what is in the photo and is text you can usually add using the available administrative tools for your website. With this text added, a customer using screen reader software will be able to understand images on your web pages.
- Closed Captioning – Make sure all videos on your site have closed captioning.
- Keyboard Accessible – Your site must be fully usable without a mouse, basically moving around with arrows and tab keys.
- Forms/ Pop-Ups – Review all forms and pop-ups to make sure that they work without requiring a mouse.
- Accessible Fonts – Ensure that you have good contrast between the color of your fonts and the backgrounds that they are on. Some website solutions like WordPress provide the option for a “high contrast” setting that can allow these users to adjust for their needs. Also make sure that your text can be resized up to 200% without the loss of functionality.
- Simplified Navigation – Make sure that your site navigation and construction is simple and logical. Have good title tags and label all input fields.
The above steps can represent a lot of work and an investment if you have a large site with numerous pages and content. But the result of increasing your potential customer base, showing respect to these customers, and avoiding a legal tussle is a worth the effort.
Additional ADA resources
There are many other resources available online that can give you more information about Website ADA Compliance and the WCA Guidelines. We suggest that you start there. As this becomes more widely understood in the mainstream, more and more companies and a growing number of web developers are gaining expertise and finding options to more efficiently address the problem. At Amplify 11, we have recently completed several sites being managed to WCAG 2.0 and would be glad to help you explore the best steps for you. The most important thing, however, is that your company proactively addresses the changes in your website. Reaction can take longer and cost more!