You may have heard the term “ADA compliant website” but do you know what it really means or why your business needs an ADA compliant website.
Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as ADA, became law in 1990 which is nearly about 30 years ago. It was enacted to protect the right of individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. The law came into force to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as other people have. Title III of the ADA applies to private sector businesses. It prohibits the places of accommodation from having any kind of access barriers. According to this law, all these things must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. The law was enacted before the coming of the Internet. But in 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) planned to revise the ADA’s title III. It incorporated website accessibility guidelines which state that websites should be fully accessible to people with disabilities.
The law expanded into digital territory because most Americans are using websites for social media, entertainment, education, and e-commerce purposes. According to the rules by DOJ, the websites should be designed in a way that they are accessible to all the blind, deaf, or any other disabilities and people with any such disability should be able to navigate through the website. An ADA compliant website can grow your target audience which will eventually help in generating more leads. If you’re wondering of making your website ADA compliant, here are a few tips for you that will help you in making your website more inclusive and accessible:
Follow WCAG guidelines
To make your site more accessible, you should adopt and follow the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, also known as WCAG. The first thing that you should do is to familiarize yourself with these guidelines as these guidelines provide the basic changes that you should consider to make your website more accessible. It includes recommendations for text, images, graphics, videos, and website code. Familiarize yourself and see how you can implement the changes on your website.
Make sure you add alt texts and readable fonts
Alt texts not only improve SEO but also improve accessibility. The benefit of adding alt texts is that it describes the images to the people who are unable to view those images. Thus, it ensures better user experience and also contributes to the image SEO. Keep your alt text very short and to the point and using your targeted keywords, describe the image as specifically as you can. Also, keep the fonts in mind. Use fonts that are easier to read such as Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman, Open Sans, Quicksand, and others. Don’t use a light font color with a light background color and vice-a-versa.
Evaluate your current site
To know what other changes you’d have to make, you should first evaluate your current site. You can do it by using programs such as WAVE or Lighthouse. WAVE is good software, but it produces false results at times. Therefore, you should also consider doing a manual test with screen reader software or with keyboard only navigation. Remember, manual testing is a must to ensure that you meet all the important requirements.
Add the right graphics
Graphics are a great way to communicate with your audience. An ideal graphic can increase the visual appeal of your website which will help in attracting and engaging with more people. You should add good-quality graphics which fit-in with the purpose and style of your website. Graphics should guide the audiences. Also, while adding graphics, you should check they do not flash more than three times per second and make sure you add a descriptive caption. You can also add a description that can be read aloud to target visually impaired people.
Structure the code of your site with standard HTML tags
To match the guidelines under the WCAG, you’d have to change your actual code and code your website with standard HTML tags. Having an ADA compliance code will also contribute to your SEO and boost your overall site’s rankings. Your code should be readable by an assistive reader. You must use standard HTML tags that are universally recognized by all the browsers.
Make your website keyboard-friendly and pause-friendly
As per the operable category of the ADA standards, you must ensure that your whole site can be navigated using only the keyboard. There are many users who are not touch-friendly or can handle the grip of the house. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your side can be functioned with the keyboard alone. All the features should be accessible with the keyboard. Other than this, your audience should be able to pause or slow down the automatic slideshow movements. You should eliminate the videos that have auto-play or have a time-limit. Make sure that the pause function can also be done with the keyboard.
Stay updated with the latest ADA website compliance laws
ADA website laws are changing constantly. Therefore, it is very important to stay up-to-date with the latest news. Adopt new practices as soon as they come. You can even hire a consulting service or ADA agency for evaluation purposes. In case you’re new, you should take the help of a professional agency to revamp your website in accordance with your target audience.