You care about your business and you care about who is visiting you online to learn more. It’s important to consider how your potential clients and customers are using your website so you can improve their experience.
By thinking about who is visiting you online, you can better accommodate their needs and make sure each individual has reasonable accessibility to your site. This is where ADA compliance comes in and why it’s so important.
What is ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is celebrating its 30th birthday this year in 2020! The ADA was enacted in order to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. This ensures that businesses, employers, etc. are held to a set of standards in order to prevent discrimination based on ableness, and make sure that environments are accessible.
The act contains several different titles, each of which prohibit and outline discrimination in specific ways. These include but are not limited to: employment, state and local governments, public transportation, public areas, and public telecommunications.
Why is website accessibility important?
Adopting ADA best practices with respect to your website or e-commerce site improves your customer’s experience with your business and ensures accessibility. Accessibility in this case refers to addressing the needs of individuals who may be using your site, and who may also have a visual or auditory (or other) disability or limitation.
Accounting for accessibility makes it easier for individuals to navigate your site and consume content. For example, adjusting the contrast of the text and background colors of your website makes it easier for individuals who are colorblind to read your articles or product descriptions.
Is ADA compliance mandatory? What could happen if my website is non-compliant?
ADA compliance can be punishable by law. Non-compliance may be enforced through several channels such as litigation by a private citizen, litigation by the federal government, and/or investigations based off of complaints made to federal agencies.
The number of web accessibility lawsuits appears to be growing. Target, Amazon, and even Beyoncé are among some of the more well-known cases. ADA website accessibility cases nearly tripled from 2017 to 2019. If you aren’t compliant with the ADA website standards, you not only are neglecting a valuable percentage of potential customers and clients, but you also open yourself up to a lawsuit.
What are some of the guidelines to follow for my website?
Interestingly enough, by improving your website’s web accessibility, you’re also improving your website’s SEO. Your general goal is to make your website as user-friendly as possible to as many users as possible.
You’re going to want to pay attention to the way you’re writing and how that text is presented.
- Headings and titles should appropriately describe the published content
- Recognize who will be reading your content and adjust your style as necessary
- Avoid giant walls of text and use a bulleted list (just like this one!)
- Use colors and formats to break up the text
Pay attention to visual elements, other than plain text, on each page of your website
- Use alternative text, or alt text, to describe images (or buttons, logos, etc.) so that individuals with visual impairments can use a screen reader to read the descriptive text aloud
- Provide transcriptions, descriptions, captions, and narrations for video content
- If you’re using tables, make sure to label the columns correctly
- Avoid using PDFs as they can’t be read by screen reading software
Take a look at your site navigation as well
- Ensure your site can be navigated by using a keyboard, as well as a mouse or trackpad
- Include “Skip Navigation” links at the top of each page so that individuals may jump to the beginning of the main content
What about the social media accounts for my business?
There are several ways to improve accessibility for your social media accounts as well
- Use alt text to describe the images you’re posting (Facebook, Instagram, and other social media giants allow you to do this)
- Follow the same rules about video content on your social media as you do for your website (i.e. transcriptions, descriptions, captions, and narrations)
- Think about your use of emojis, if you use them at all, as if they were being read aloud to you
- Doing this: #VenturaWebDesign is better than doing this: #VENTURAWEBDESIGN
Please keep in mind that the lists above are simplified. For a more complete list, we suggest visiting ADA.gov.
How can I make SURE my website is in compliance?
Aside from auditing your own website against the ADA.gov web accessibility best practices and guidelines, there are other ways to ensure you’re in compliance
- Use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to take an in-depth look at your website
- Take advantage of free online tools such as Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE). You can install WAVE as a browser or extension, which you can then run against webpages to determine their level of accessibility
- Hire a professional to audit and improve your online business so you don’t have to do any guesswork
ADA compliance is an important part of digital marketing and the online world. We know that you value ADA standards because you also value your customers and audience. By improving accessibility, you’re improving the experience for anyone who visits your e-commerce site.
Here at Ventura Web Design and Marketing, we have quality experience improving and establishing ADA website accessibility compliance. Click here for a free consultation today.
This publication is not intended to be legal advice or to replace the advice of a competent attorney. While Ventura Web Design aims to help your website be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, we make no guarantees of 100% accessibility, nor do we make any claims that our work or advice will be suitable for your specific purposes or needs.