Did you know that 61 million Americans live with a disability? Laws in the United States have made life for those with disabilities easier over the years. However, with technological advancements and many businesses now having virtual storefronts, what does that mean for ADA compliance? If you are looking to learn more about ADA compliancy for your website, keep reading.
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is a set of civil rights laws passed to ensure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities. There are many different facets to this law, from employment to accessibility.
Businesses are required to meet certain standards to be ADA compliant. In 2010, Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design were released.
Then in 2012, the deadline for new website construction and alterations to meet these standards was implemented. Businesses that are required to be ADA compliant include state and local government agencies, businesses that operate for the benefit of the public, and private employers who employ 15 or more people.
ADA compliance is important for many reasons. Even if you are not legally required to be ADA compliant, it is wise to ensure your website is still accessible.
If your website is not accessible, you miss out on an entire demographic of customers. You may also miss out on different business leads.
Ensuring your website is accessible can also help your SEO. An accessible website allows for video transcripts, alternative image text, and more features that can factor into your SEO.
However, it goes beyond just wanting to make your website available to anyone who visits it.
If you do not ensure your website is ADA accessible, you will get held liable. A lawsuit can be filed against your company in these circumstances.
Even if there was no intention of discrimination or exclusion, you could still get held liable. Fines for not being compliant can go up to 75,000 dollars for a first offense and 150,000 dollars for subsequent violations.
Not only that, but a lawsuit filed against you for not being ADA compliant can hurt your brand. You will not only spend money on lawyers and potential fines, but you will also spend time and money fixing the harm done to your companies reputation.
So how do you ensure ADA compliance for your website? You must know Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG. These guidelines can help you build your website while ensuring accessibility.
WCAG has core guidelines that drive it. These four guidelines will give you a lens to help you view your website from an accessibility perspective.
The first guideline is that the content on your website is perceivable. This means that users have the ability to perceive information on your site.
For example, if you include video on your website, you include closed captioning to ensure that users who are deaf or hard of hearing can still access that content.
If using infographics you ensure that the information is available in a way that technology can read the information to those that are blind. If there is not a way to make the content accessible, there should be an alternative.
You can do a written script of a video, or write your infographic up as an article as well.
Users need to have the ability to navigate your website and the associated features. For example, if you have a calculator on your website, it should also be available to get used with speech to text.
An individual with the inability to use their hands or type will need to have the ability to use your website and any tools.
Your website content needs to be understandable. Whether this is images, instructions for tools, video, text, etc. If individuals with disabilities should have the ability to understand content placed on your website.
Website content being robust means that users with and without disabilities can have the same experience. Even if the individual with a disability uses assistive technology to access your content.
For example, if an individual uses a voice reader, they should get the same content as another individual reading your content. The method of delivery is different, but the experience should be the same.
There are three different levels of accessibility issues for websites defined by WCAG. Using these levels can help you ensure that your website is ADA compliant.
At each level, you will address different factors that could make your website not accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Level A issues are the most urgent. These issues will severely limit the ability of an individual with a disability to use and navigate the website.
Level AA issues are about functionality. These look at areas that need improvement in order to allow people with disabilities the full experience of the website.
Level AAA is about fine-tuning. In addition, at this level, there can be an expansion on issues that get identified in Level A or Level AA. This is your goal level.
A website that achieves Level AAA meets the highest standards.
ADA compliancy for your website is essential. Not only does it ensure you do not lose customers, but it ensures that your brand, finances, and image are not impacted by a costly lawsuit.
Ensure your website is accessible to all. Work with Digital Media Ninja's Web Design team. We can answer your questions about accessibility and more, contact us today.