ADA Compliance – and the Web? (Yep, it’s a thing)

Blog // 07.19.2018 // ADA Compliance – and the Web? (Yep, it’s a thing)

man using an accessibility device with his computer

You probably already know about ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance requirements for your building and your services (ramps, railings, closed captioning and more), but did you know your website should also be ADA compliant?

We’re not talking about putting railings on your computer, but rather making it easier for those with disabilities to access your website, find out more about your products and services and otherwise engage with your organization. The fact is, like installing a ramp to improve access to your building, enhancing your website for ADA compliance is good customer relations.

Often, individuals with disabilities use assistive technology such as voice-control computer programs, screen readers, text enlargement software, or employing keystrokes instead of a mouse to use computers and access websites. While at first blush this may seem a daunting, and expensive, undertaking, it doesn’t have to be.

Turns out there are three levels of participation for ADA website compliance. We often recommend that clients start with one and then gradually grandfather their website and other electronic communications like eblasts into the upper tiers over time.

americans with disability act document with a gavel sitting on top

What does an ADA compliant website address? Here are just a few considerations:

  • Image-alt tags: They enable those who are blind or have low vision or other disabilities to use refreshable Braille displays or screen readers to describe what’s on screen. This includes not just photos but also other visual elements such as logos, maps, charts, graphs and other artwork.
  • Text-based document formats: For years, the go-to for document viewing has been the portable document format, or PDF. However, PDFs aren’t accessible through text enlargement programs or by adjusting color or font settings to improve display readability.
  • Friendly fonts and colors: We’re all for brand consistency across both print and electronic communications. But those who use assistive technology may not be viewing the entire screen at once, which presents a problem. And, many color and font settings aren’t viewable for the vision-challenged. In addition, many websites don’t allow adjustments to color or font, which is a must for readability. Knowing the intricacies of color and font choice, such as which color combinations to avoid and which contrast settings to use, is an easy adjustment toward more inclusive websites.
  • Multimedia messaging: Videos and other digital media are hugely popular right now, but they present unique challenges for those with hearing or vision challenges. Audio tracks often aren’t optimized for maximum hearing, and video quality, especially with today’s connection and bandwidth limitations, can prove undiscernible for those with disabilities.

The best strategy: Start with an action plan that identifies targets and the steps to address them. Determine which can be addressed now, and which are longer-term goals. This should be an ongoing process to adjust and improve your site – something you’ll likely be doing anyway. And there’s another side benefit: Improving your ADA compliance also raises your rankings as the search engines crawl your site. Your existing content likely has a great deal of potential; it just needs to be optimized so you aren’t missing out on an entire segment of potential business!

McD Marketing
ADA, accessibility

Sign up for our blog feed today.

* indicates required