Take a trip to a local business and you’re likely to see wheelchair ramps, Braille buttons, automatic doors, and other ease-of-access modifications designed to provide equal access to persons with disabilities—these are the physical accommodations that most businesses and nonprofit service providers must legally make to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But did you know that the same businesses required to make physical accommodations for persons with disabilities are also required to make accommodations on their websites?
What Is Website ADA Compliance?
Making sure your website is compliant with ADA standards ensures that people with disabilities will have equal access to the content you’ve published on your site—this includes the ability to function correctly with or on tools designed to assist persons with disabilities interpret the site’s content. We’ll dig into the specifics farther down, but in short, you’re using web development tactics to provide an alternate but equal experience for persons with disabilities who might not otherwise be able to read or hear your content.
For some businesses, ADA accessibility to your website is legally required. For others, ensuring your website is ADA compliant means providing a seamless experience to all prospective clients and existing customers, regardless of their disability status.
What Types of Companies Need to Think About Website ADA Compliance?
Title III of the ADA “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors’ offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)—to comply with the ADA Standards.”
That means website ADA compliance could apply to places of lodging, restaurants/bars, movie theaters and entertainment facilities, retail stores, service establishments (beauty shops to doctors’ offices), museums, zoos, schools and colleges, gyms and more (full list here).
What Are the Basics of Website ADA Compliance?
This is not an all-encompassing list, but a good start on website ADA compliance should include considerations for:
- Text equivalents for images – without them, visually impaired visitors to your site won’t be able to tell the difference between a logo, a photograph, or a map with directions to your locations.
- Specifying colors and font sizes – marketers want to control the aesthetic preferences of their website, but dictating color and font settings can render pages unreadable to people who need to manipulate color and font setting based on contrast or color for visibility reasons.
- Captions for videos and multimedia on the site – website accessibility for the deaf needs to include captions on videos and/or audio content.
- Descriptive HTML tags – make sure online forms and tables are accessible by including buttons, check boxes, carts, drop-down menus, etc. with descriptive HTML tags.
- HTML or text-based formats for documents on site, particularly since PDFs will otherwise render as unreadable images rather than text.
Once you’ve got the basics in play, you’ll want to run an audit that scans your entire website for errors. And of course, you’ll want to have an action plan in place for ongoing maintenance of ADA compliance as rules and requirements change and more pages get added to your site. And while keeping your site ADA compliant may not be easy, it can help you provide an equal experience for all visitors, both for your website and for your brand.
Want to learn more about ADA compliance on your site? We can help you audit and correct existing errors. Contact us using the form below to get started.