The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that certain businesses accommodate for individuals with disabilities. This includes websites. Websites must be accessible to blind users, deaf users, and people who can only use assistive technologies to navigate.
As many of us work and learn from home, it’s become glaringly obvious that many websites lack the ADA compliance that they need, damaging their customer base and leading to lawsuits.
Get your website ready for all types of users with this practical guide that will ensure all of your users feel included—and that your brand reputation stays intact.
Who Needs Accessibility?
There are many people who need more inclusive designs—millions of them. Blind or deaf people will benefit from magnification, brightness settings, transcriptions, and captions, while easier web page layouts will help people with learning disabilities navigate more comfortably.
Don’t forget the fact that odd page layouts can make it difficult for people with behavioral or anxiety issues to look through your information, and that not everyone uses a mouse or a trackpad. This is why you need different forms of access for many users.
Points of Accessibility
If you’re wondering where to begin, think about your content first. Consider how you navigate through your website and what content you’re looking at. This includes PDFs, any forms that must be signed, the images that you have, videos, text layouts, and even the structure of your pages.
Taking a look at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines can help you figure out everything you need to transform your website.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Generally, your website should conform to the WCAG, which are guidelines rather than laws, but exist to help make websites usable for everyone.
Looking at these guidelines is the best place to start. There are 38 of these guidelines though, and you don’t need to fulfill all of them to still have an accessible website. Start by dividing these guidelines and taking the biggest obstacles to accessibility—which are the most common lawsuit complaints.
Common Problems and Solutions
Know first that fulfilling these problems is very flexible, and not every website needs to fulfill them in the same way. You have a lot of options for changing up your website, especially since there are no clear website accessibility guidelines.
Still, there are a few specific things that you can fix right away. First, think about alternatives to images and videos. Make sure that you have transcripts, closed captioning, and audio descriptions for anything that people watch, look at, or listen to.
Next, think about the structure of your website. Use markup techniques to structure your content in an order that makes it easy to read, and add in other forms of detailed instructions that don’t only rely on sight or listening. You should have a color contrast to your website, along with audio control and the ability to resize text.
It’s important to make your website is easy to use for all users. It needs to be possible for all content to be accessed just using the keyboard, and keyboard users shouldn’t get stuck in any part of the website.
Anything that moves or scrolls on your website needs to have the ability to be stopped or hidden, and anything that flashes can’t flash more than three times.
From here, make sure that your website is completely understandable and able to be navigated by anyone, with consistent navigation for all types of people.
These are some very common guidelines and problems, and have been simplified here, but thinking about how you can add text, captions, sizing, and navigation can do a lot for your website and for all of your users.
Automated Accessibility Testing
You’ve tried to alter your website, or maybe you’re wondering if your existing website is already accessible enough. You might try to use automated accessibility testing software to help you out, but know that this type of software only located about 25 percent of issues.
It’s best to hire a specialist to audit your website for you, but if you do use some sort of automated testing, make sure that you go over all of your guidelines.
The best web design will make sure that everyone visiting your website feels like they’re welcome and that the website is easy and simple for them to use. That’s what ADA compliance is all about, and that’s why it’s important for you to fix up pieces of your website to make sure that all of your users can access your content at all times.