The importance of making your website ADA compliant – why and how
When Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Internet did not play that significant role in everyday life and business. And so, making adjustments to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities was focused on real-time adjustments in terms of retail stores, communication, etc. However, since then, everything has gone digital and this is where ADA was left behind by a lot of businesses. In the past several years, efforts are being made to ensure that ADA becomes an integral part of running a successful online business. In this article, Digital Dot explores the reasons for making your website ADA compliant and how to do it.
What does it mean to be ADA compliant?
As we mentioned in our intro, ADA originally focused on the physical aspect – providing wheelchair ramps, tactile paving, contrasted signs, access to service dogs, etc. However, due to the dominance of all things digital, ADA had to evolve beyond the physical requirements. Instead, companies with official websites are now required to make their websites accessible to those with sensory, physical, and cognitive disabilities. The ADA legislation is employed to website compliance for people living with disabilities. Its’ purpose is to protect people with disabilities from facing discrimination related to:
- State and local government
- Public accommodations
- Commercial facilities
Why is making your website ADA compliant so important?
People living with disabilities should be accorded the same rights and privileges as those living without disabilities. Adopting ADA compliance measures on your website demonstrates the will of your brand to uphold fundamental human right and an equally high-quality user experience for all site visitors. Making your website accessible to individuals both with and without disabilities makes you part of the solution and boosts the overall quality of your website in the eyes of consumers as well as search engines.
How can businesses ensure that their websites are ADA-compliant?
It’s a simple matter of following the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards for web accessibility.
- The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) present a set of guidelines for making your website content more accessible to people with disabilities.
Think of WCAG as a part of ADA. A part that focuses on helping professional web developers make websites more accessible to users with various types of disabilities. The basis of WCAG’s twelve guidelines can be categorized into four core principles:
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content
- Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
- Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Give users enough time to read and process content.
- Do not use content that causes seizures.
- Help users navigate and find content.
- Make text readable and understandable.
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
Along with the above-mentioned WCAG principles, there are also three levels of success criteria used for ranking the ADA compliance of a website – Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Based on the type of business that you operate, you are able to determine whether you are expected to have a low level of accessibility that is A, or a high level of accessibility that is AAA.
Five benefits of web accessibility and ADA compliance
It offers a better user experience
It’s a fact that most websites don’t have the features necessary to accommodate learning, cognitive, or other disabilities. On the other hand, both search engines and consumers are looking for websites that can boast a high level of user experience for site visitors. The more user-friendly a website is toward all types of site visitors, the easier it is to build a positive reputation around your brand.
It helps you expand your audience
People with disabilities are another target audience that you need to consider as potential buyers. If you want to attract more visitors to your website and increase your lead generation and revenue, you need to explore the option of making your website ADA compliant as a sales tactic.
It saves resources on a long-term basis
ADA lawsuits toward websites have drastically increased recently, targeting websites and apps for noncompliance and web inaccessibility. Lawsuits can end up costing you a lot of money and resources to make them go away. And everyone can agree that they are bad for business and the overall reputation of a brand. And so, by choosing to make the extra effort to make your website ADA compliant, you can avoid unwanted lawsuits and negative comments.
It contributes to SEO efforts
Google endorses any additional effort that we make to make a website more readable and user-friendly. The easier it is for search engine bots to crawl through a website, the more likely it will be for that website to earn extra points in terms or organic search rankings. New York SEO professionals understand the importance of nurturing a rich and extensive strategy, one that appeals to all audiences. And so, ADA compliance is a vital part of website optimization, with steps such as:
- Adding alt text to images;
- Transcribing audio files;
- Providing titles and audio descriptions for videos;
- Adding captions to videos and images;
- Using relevant links and descriptive headings;
At the end of the day, all people deserve to be granted the same rights. And it is up to each of us to go that extra mile to make sure that we provide everyone with the same opportunities. Making your website ADA compliant through web accessibility is a moral and ethical decision and one that presents a win for all parties. Invest in your website and add Fairness to the core values of your brand.
Is ADA compliance mandatory?
Although it’s still not mandatory, ADA compliance can be punishable by law. Both individuals and the federal government can sue companies or start investigations based on non-compliance or false advertising of being ADA compliant. Reports show that ADA website accessibility lawsuits have tripled in the past three years. That fact alone should warrant caution and invite initiative in making your website ADA compliant.
Start working on your web accessibility and ADA compliance today
As a professional New York digital marketing agency, our team has a clear understanding of how important it is for a business to tailor to the needs of its audiences. Just last week, we discussed the different types of site visitors and how to respond to their search intent. And making your website ADA compliant is just another way to accomplish this. Our team can help you make this transition, both through website development efforts and advertising activities. Feel free to contact us for more information!