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How to Make Websites Comply With ADA

July 22, 2020
#WebDevelopment #Technology #Tips

To make a more inclusive digital space websites need to comply with ADA. In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s important, what you need to consider, and how we can make it work.

Why Is ADA Important


ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It became law in 1990 and is by all accounts an important milestone in civil rights. ADA compliance means the facilitation of equal opportunities for people with disabilities in areas of life corresponding to the act’s titles:

  • Employment
  • State and Local Government
  • Public Accommodations
  • Telecommunications
  • Miscellaneous Provisions

The general rule of Americans With Disabilities Act can be summed up in a reasonably short sentence. No individual should be denied the equal enjoyment of goods and services based on their disability. The full text is always publicly available and covers a lot more issues but this sums up the intent behind the act fairly succinctly.  

For people with disabilities obtaining the same results is often difficult, a lot of the time impossible. That’s why ADA was put into place, to make it possible at the very least. Compliance with this practice helps us come closer to an equitable society where everyone can contribute their skills and talents.

For people who don’t see it as a priority, there is another initiative for compliance in the form of lawsuits. If your business does not comply with ADA it can cost you money, time, and brand image. Not only are such lawsuits expensive, but they are also becoming more common with every passing year. As a result, there is no reason not to make your business ADA compliant.

Digital Accessibility Trends



ADA Compliance for Websites


With our lives being more digitally connected than ever, level access must be available not only in the physical world. That is the reasoning behind ADA covering such issues as software, mobile apps, and website content.

Overall, technology has provided many tools that make the lives of individuals with disabilities easier. This includes everything from assistive technology helping them perform daily tasks to web portals providing education and entertainment along with everything in between. Technology allows them to have a more level playing field. That’s why making sure your website complies with ADA is so crucial.

This is where many questions arise, especially if you don’t have the experience yourself. How to facilitate all of that, how to make a website ADA compliant, what is required for that, and where to begin? Thankfully there are guidelines in place that answer most of your questions, and they are called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

It’s important to note that they often change and become increasingly more refined, so it’s important to stay up-to-date. According to the latest version of WCAG, all websites must at the very least be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Here’s what that means:

Perceivable:

  • Alternative text
  • Video/audio transcripts
  • Adaptable layout and structure
  • Distinguishable text

Operable:

  • Usable with keyboard only
  • Videos and slideshows can be controlled
  • Images don’t trigger physical reactions such as epilepsy 
  • Clear titles and headings for navigation
  • Input modalities for alternative control options such as touch screens or gestures

Understandable:

  • Content is readable
  • Predictable and consistent navigation
  • Input assistance and help functions

Robust:

  • The website must be compatible with all browsers
  • Compatible with assistive technologies

Principles of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines


ADA Website Compliance Checklist


Taking all these web content accessibility guidelines we have compiled a checklist that you can use to maintain ADA compliance.

Presentation:

  • Clear, readable text with accurate titles and headers 
  • Color shouldn’t be the only thing separating different elements of the website 
  • Forms must have appropriate labels with clear instructions
  • Headings should maintain a hierarchy with every page having an H1
  • Consistent descriptive labels for images
  • Clean code with no errors or broken links
  • Use larger fonts if possible to ease the eyestrain and make it easier to read
  • The text must have a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 against the background
  • Links should be the only underlined text on your website
  • The text must remain readable even when enlarged to 200%
  • Use the same type of navigation layout for all pages

Alternative Content:

  • Don’t use images of text unless they are logos, infographics, or branding
  • Alt text and captions for images to enable their descriptions by text readers
  • Text transcripts for audio content
  • Closed captions for video content
  • Accompanying text for large data tables
  • Extra documents should also meet accessibility standards

User Control:

  • No unnecessary automatic pop-ups
  • No autoplay on your videos
  • Pause feature for all dynamic content
  • Adjustable time limits for timed content
  • Submission of data should be explicitly confirmed and reversible
  • The transitions shouldn’t be unexpected

Usability:

  • Your website should have a set default language
  • Unlike PDFs, HTML format is supported by most text readers 
  • Skip navigation feature that takes the user right to the content
  • The search function on as many pages as possible
  • Focus indicator box that helps the user navigate interactable elements
  • The website should be operable with just keyboard
  • Sitemap accessible from the home page

Compatibility With Assistive Technology:

  • Text-to-speech converters
  • Closed captioning tools
  • Text readers and magnifiers
  • Screen-reading software
  • Optical character readers

Additional Points:

  • Customer support for all the concerns not covered by this checklist
  • Always stay up-to-date with the recent changes and updates to the ADA and WCAG

If your website doesn’t tick all of the boxes at the moment and you don’t know what you should do about it, don’t panic. We can help you fix these discrepancies and implement new accessibility features.

How Digital Skynet Helps to Comply With ADA


ADA compliance for websites has been a popular issue among our clients. If the project requires a web solution of any sort, we always develop it according to the guidelines covered in this article. Even if our clients don’t have any experience with a disability we strive to develop accessible software that anyone can use.

To facilitate that, we have introduced new tools in our arsenal of technology. Namely the Access Assistant and Access Continuum digital accessibility services by Level Access. The former allows us to do automatic tests on any web page we have developed, while the latter enables us to integrate such tests into our CI/CD (continuous implementation and continuous delivery) practice. These tools help us quickly and thoroughly check the entire web portals and see what we need to fix and implement.

Our experience with this type of issue has been extremely positive. Digital Skynet has successfully achieved 99% compliance on every website we have worked on. What’s with that one percent, you might ask? The only truly stumbling block for us has been the reCaptcha technology. ADA compliant websites need to be fully operable with just a keyboard alone. To interact with a reCaptcha module you must first click on it with a mouse. In any case, we did find a solution to this problem. You can always contact us and we’ll personally tell you about it.

Digital Skynet is dedicated to providing inclusive user experience. These topics are important to talk about. Everything you need to comply with ADA is already there. The tools and technologies are also available. So there is no reason not to use them and allow a sizable demographic who could not use your service before doing so. Everybody wins. And if you don’t have the talent on your payroll who can make your website ADA compliant we are always ready to help. Just send us a message.

In Conclusion


The Americans with Disabilities Act is a necessary piece of legislation allowing everyone to be able to experience normal things we often take for granted. Surfing the internet is one of them. Having websites comply with ADA is at times difficult. You saw the checklist, it’s quite long. However, it is simply necessary regardless of your motivation. Whether you want to avoid lawsuits or simply provide a good user experience for individuals with disabilities there is one thing to remember. There is always someone willing to help.

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