What it Means for Your Site to be ADA Compliant

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is often associated with locations and accommodations certain companies must make for people with disabilities. However, there’s a component that also applies to websites.

Under Title I of the ADA, any business with a minimum of 15 full-time employees which operates for 20 or more weeks every year is covered by the law. Under Title III of the ADA, businesses like hotels and banks, who are considered to be “public accommodation”, are also required to comply.

The tricky part about ADA accessibility is that there are no clear website accessibility guidelines. Based on cases like Gil v. Winn-Dixie, we know that ADA compliance does apply to websites, yet there’s no fixed set of rules to determine how.

The WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is a commonly used rulebook for ADA compliance although it is unofficial. So, how do you create an ADA-compliant website without a definition or guidelines?

For a website to be ADA compliant, it means that the designers and developers in charge of the site constructed it in such a way that individuals who are visually or hearing impaired can easily navigate the site.

The creation of alt tags for images, videos, and audio files is one way to ensure extra accommodations. Alt tags can be useful for users with disabilities who need to read or listen to alternative descriptions of content they cannot view otherwise.

If you post a lot of videos or audio content, text transcripts of those files can be crucial. These transcripts allow deaf and hard-of-hearing users to absorb the content they otherwise would not be able to.

Within the code of the website, developers can work to ensure that various elements (such as links, forms, and menus) are clearly identified. This helps those who rely on text readers, as they can identify those elements and describe them correctly. Web developers trained in compliance should be able to audit the code to ensure best practices are being used and clean up any outdated coding.

The site’s layout can be a critical component when examining compliance. Menus, buttons, and links should all be formatted and organized in a way that’s easily navigable.

For designers, it may mean using larger fonts (but not too large), and doing away with anything that could be illegible – like light, small fonts on a light background, or dark text on a dark background.

Without any clear guidelines, ADA compliance can be a big source of worry for companies. If you feel that you need to revamp your website in order to be compliant, Marstudio can help. Call us today to set up a consultation to discuss making your site accessible to more users.

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