What is ADA Web Accessibility?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to protect individuals with disabilities in the United States and remove barriers for those individuals to live their. This does not only apply to in-person access when it comes to your business. Your website also needs to be accessible to everyone.
According to the August 2018 report CDC report, 25% of adults in the US live with some form of disability including, but not limited to mobility, cognitive, vision, or hearing.
Why should you care?
Benefits to your customers
Accessibility affects everyone. Your customers want to be able to view your site and contact you. In order to do that, everyone needs to be able to experience your site in their own way.
Screen Readers/Assistive Technology
Some individuals with disabilities require the use of a screen reader or other assistive technology in order to experience your content. If your site is unable to be read coherently, or even at all, you are not only losing out on potential business, but actually preventing someone from accessing information they may need.
Consider how difficult some sites can be to browse when using your mobile device. You have to pinch, zoom, and scroll all around just to find what you need. Then sometimes the links are impossible to click on, and if there’s a drop-down – well, forget it. Consider your frustrations but apply that to every site you visit. Some users require larger fonts or images, or need audible cues to properly browse and utilize your site. If you haven’t designed and coded it properly it could become a real barrier to use.
Benefits to your business
When you build your website to be ADA accessible, you are, by design, creating it to be search engine friendly as well. Many of the more technical, behind the scenes coding that is done to make your site readable by assistive devices also make it very readable to the search crawlers and indexers. These same crawlers that will display your site in google searches. What that means is better search engine placement and more traffic!
A better user experience means happier customers, and happier customers means more business. It’s just that simple. If users find they can easily and effectively use your site to find what they’re looking for, they become far more likely to stick around and be repeat business.
Protection from lawsuits.
While avoiding lawsuits shouldn’t be your primary focus (your customer’s ability to access your business should be), it would be inaccurate to say it’s not a big part of why you should be implementing changes to your site. According to usablenet, federal Website Accessibility ADA lawsuits were at about 800 for the year in 2017. By 2018, that number jumped to 2300 and is only going up. These are businesses that either were unaware of the accessibility issues their sites faced, or ignored them willingly.
Who should be concerned with ADA compliance?
Any business the general public should be able to use, understand, and access should work to be ADA compliant. In 2019, 60% of the lawsuits were targeted at retail businesses, followed by about 10% restaurant/food service industry and so on. (see the chart below)
How to make your business ADA compliant
Basic steps you can do right now:
- Ensure your site has proper heading structure (H1, H2, H3, etc) and in proper hierarchy
- Check your images for descriptive and accurate alt tags. Screen readers will read these in place of a visual image for those who are visually impaired. A tag of IMG004.jpg will simply not help them.
More advanced updates and solutions:
- Ensure your site is built with a responsive framework. This is not only important for ADA compliance, but for overall general accessibility between devices.
- Check your color contrast. Normal text and images need to have a contrast ration of 4.5:1 for visibility requirements. Low contrast ratios can make it very difficult for visually impaired customers to read content and navigate your site.
- Keyboard accessible navigation. Ensuring that your site can be accessed and navigated solely using a keyboard will ensure that users with mobility issues or that rely on other assistive technologies can properly utilize your site.
At Westlake Media, we strive to help our clients reach their customers through a wide variety of channels but also across a wide variety of devices and technologies.
To learn more about ADA compliance or find out how how you can improve accessibility on your site, please Contact Us.