If you are reading this article, it has probably already come to your attention that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires businesses to provide equal access to their goods and services for all people. But what you may not know is that the ADA also applies to online businesses and how they present their digital content.
What Is the ADA?
It is a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on disability, including providing reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities in employment, public services provided by government agencies, public accommodations such as retail and medical establishments, transportation services, and telecommunications companies.
You can think, “I’m just a small business owner who runs an online store. Why do I need to worry about how accessible my website is?” The short answer is that you do not want to leave money on the table by excluding people with disabilities from your audience. Over 61 million Americans have some form of disability; if even a fraction of those people start shopping at your store because you have an accessible website, that could translate into a lot more sales.
How Do I Make My Website ADA Compliant?
There are three main components of ADA website compliance, content, navigation, and functionality. In terms of content, it means making sure all information on your site gets presented equally through any device or platform.
It includes text length, size, font style, color contrast, and language structure. So, anything that helps convey the message accurately without any barriers impeding the reader from understanding it.
Navigation refers to the hierarchy on your site:
- How can someone get around easily without getting lost or having difficulty finding certain pages?
- Does he need to rely on mouse controls exclusively, or can he use keyboard shortcuts?
Any dynamic functions like logging in via Facebook should work regardless of which browser someone uses. So, they do not have trouble finishing their purchase or tracking an order’s progress.
Easy Information Access
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a long-standing civil rights law created to ensure equal access to buildings, programs, and services, without any regard for disability. In this digital world, it includes websites and information on the internet.
The Federal ADA Standards for Accessible Design outlines what essentials are necessary to meet ADA guidelines and make your website accessible. It includes:
- Make sure all images have text alternatives, such as alt tags or captions
- Using high contrast colors
- Ensuring the site is navigable with the only use of a keyboard (no mouse required)
- Making sure pages get built with an easy-to-understand structure
It can feel like a daunting task to adhere to these standards for every single page on your website. However, if you take it one step at a time, you will find it is easier than you think!
Numerous Content Delivery Mechanisms
Most content on the internet comes in the form of text. While this makes it easy to share, ease of access has been an issue since the beginning of online content. To ensure that your website is accessible, you will need to consider how people use different devices and how they will be able to read your content.
What About Those Who Cannot Read at All?
If a person does not have sight or can not see very well, the way you format and present your content will be important. The same applies if they have hearing concerns or prefer audio technology like a screen reader. If you are distributing a lot of written information, ensure there is an audio version for people who can not read.
Many people have low literacy levels due to numerous reasons, including disability and poverty. If you are trying to target these groups, making sure that your site is not just visually appealing but also easy to understand will help users consume more of what you have on offer.
You should even think about whether particular words would get understood by some types of English speakers and thus change them! It means avoiding colloquial terms or idioms that may not be so frequent for everyone speaking English as a second language.
Website Layout and Design
Many are unaware of ADA compliances as something that goes beyond physical buildings. It applies to all aspects of our day-to-day lives and includes making information available online.
What are some things you can do to make sure you are ADA compliant?
Make sure your site navigation is clear and easy to follow. You can remember sites should be usable by everyone, regardless of device or what time of day it is. Do not forget the alt tags on images either.
Now go forth and make your websites accessible!