Learn How to Comply With ADA Requirements so Everyone Can Use Your Site
As a business owner, you are responsible for making reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities to have the same access to your services as anyone else. You probably know that means providing a wheelchair ramp where there are stairs, but did you know your website is required to be accessible, too?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination so that they have the same opportunities to participate in everyday life. Title III of the act covers public accommodations and commercial facilities. When the ADA was signed into law in 1990, it applied to physical buildings, requiring accommodations such as wheelchair accessibility and Braille on signs. While it doesn’t explicitly name websites, the rules now apply in the digital realm, too. For example, people with visual impairment, hearing loss or inability to operate a computer mouse must be able to use and understand a company’s website. At KickCharge Creative, we design a lot of websites for contractors and other small businesses, so we ensure the foundation on which we build our sites complies with the core requirements.
In a nutshell, it’s a business owner’s responsibility to ensure anyone can use the company’s website and that it provides effective communication regardless of a person’s physical impairments. Over the past two years, the number of web accessibility lawsuits has increased sharply. Businesses need to protect themselves against this costly litigation by ensuring their websites follow compliance guidelines.
Use This Checklist to Get Started
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 describes the requirements in detail. Kris Rivenburgh specializes in this subject and wrote a thorough article interpreting the guidelines and providing a checklist for ensuring a site’s compliance.
Many of the items on the list require manual work and time to check, correct or provide:
- Descriptive labels on form fields
- Descriptive page titles
- Descriptive anchor text on links (not “click here”)
- Written descriptions (alt text) for images and non-text content
- Proper order and nesting of heading tags
Videos used on your website should live on a platform such as YouTube so that these features will be available:
For the following accessibility rules, KickCharge recommends the automated solution accessiBe. It provides:
- Ability to increase the size of text
- Ability to navigate using a keyboard but no mouse
- Screen reader
- Other color, content and orientation adjustments
Rivenburgh emphasizes in this article that plugins and widgets cannot satisfy every requirement, so they are not a comprehensive solution. As we’ve already mentioned, some of the work needs to be done by hand. It’s tedious, but it’s necessary.
Being Proactive Pays Off
With the abundance of new litigation in this area, we recommend asking a professional to review your website for compliance before it becomes the target of a lawsuit. If you do receive a demand letter, save a copy of your website before making any changes.
Be aware that California and New York have their own state versions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the Unruh Civil Rights Act in California and the New York Human Rights Law in New York), so plaintiffs in those states can seek damages.
At KickCharge, we have our clients’ backs, so when you come to us for plumbing web design or a website for your landscaping business, we will work with you to ensure it’s not only branded and informative, but also compliant. Contact us online today to step up your company’s web presence.
This post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please consult a legal practitioner in your area to discuss your liabilities and required mitigation.