Making your website accessible to everyone goes beyond being the right thing to do. It can protect you from legal repercussions as well. By complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you can also boost your customer base.
ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act, a legislation that protects the rights of people with disabilities.
The United States Department of Justice released specific guidelines for accessible design in 2010 for public organizations to follow to become more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines apply to all disabled persons who use computers and smart devices. Therefore, all electronic information and technology—such as your website—must be accessible to people with disabilities.
ADA compliance and 508 compliance are often confused. ADA compliance, though, differs in that it's more of a civil law with specific standards that obligates public institutions to be inclusive of people with disabilities. Any place that is open to the general public, such as the workplace, schools, and transportation (and recently, websites), must comply. While ADA and Section 508 both have similar goals, Section 508 only applies to Federal agencies.
Along with the compliance regulations, there are also the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) — a set of technical standards created by the World Wide Web Consortium detailing recommendations for the building of accessible digital products. The WCAG is more or less a set of formal guidelines for improving accessibility.
Reviewing all of the requirements to ensure your website is accessible to all users may seem like a significant investment of your business' time and resources. Here are a few reasons why practicing ADA compliance for your website makes smart business sense:
ADA compliance is a statement of commitment to corporate social responsibility
Web accessibility compliance can help improve your SEO.
The cost of updating your site for compliance is less expensive than the legal fees you’d pay for a suit against you.
Doing the right thing for people with disabilities will help your business in the long haul by giving you a positive brand image.
In general, it’s recommended to use the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. There are three grading levels in the WCAG 2.0 guidelines:
Level A: Low level web accessibility
Level AA: High level and widely accepted accessibility standards
Level AAA: Very high level web accessibility
It's usually good enough to meet Level AA compliance standards. However, your best bet is to have a vision for 100% compliance so that you don't leave anybody out. Below are three quick and easy tips to ensure your website is also ADA compliant.
ADA compliance can be checked using the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool browser extension (available for Chrome and Firefox). Seeing a lot of errors isn't a cause for alarm. Site-wide errors are common. Your site will reflect this change if you fix it in one place.
You should aim for WCAG 2.0/Level AA compliance using this evaluation tool. A developer may be required to handle some work. It may be necessary to write jQuery scripts to add or remove HTML attributes in order to make the site fully accessible.
Defining and securing accessibility resources, including budgets, should be a priority. Reviewing, training, auditing, and testing with users are all part of the process.
Budget and resource requirements are determined by the accessibility goals and the work involved in achieving them. Make sure that all the necessary resources are available for all activities.
If you’re developing a website with WordPress, you can install a plugin to help with ADA compliance. WP accessibility plugins can fix some of your site’s compliance issues and add features such as skip links and enforcing ALT attributes on images.
The accessibility of your website can be enhanced in several ways. Unfortunately, choosing the wrong WordPress theme can make your efforts in vain. Despite the existence of many professionally-developed themes, even experienced WordPress designers can overlook important accessibility principles.
By using the WP Accessibility plugin, you can resolve issues that commonly occur with WordPress themes.
It's amazing how far an automated tool can take you! In addition, these tools analyze the functionality of each element on a website and adjust the user interface components and keyboard navigation.
Additionally, they can monitor websites round the clock to ensure accessibility over time.
Finally, since clients have high expectations when it comes to this relatively new website risk factor, digital agencies could benefit greatly from having an automated web accessibility solution at hand.
You run the risk of legal action if your site is inaccessible and you don't offer alternative accommodation. The businesses and other organizations that fail to provide equal access to information, services, and other opportunities to people with disabilities are frequently the targets of complaints from persons with disabilities, advocacy groups, and other groups representing their interests. People denied access typically prevail in these cases, and the defending organizations can lose thousands or even millions of dollars.