Title II of the ADA has to be followed by state and local governments, which entails making their websites accessible to individuals with disabilities. Without following Title II of ADA, those with disabilities would not have access to their state and local government websites and therefore not have access to information that they are entitled to.
ADA compliance is short for the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for a website’s accessibility. ADA compliance is mandated by civil law to include those with disabilities like the workplace, schools, transportation, and places open to the general public. More specifically, state and local governments, private organizations of fifteen or more employees, organizations that work for the public’s benefit, and businesses that would be considered a place of public accommodation.
The ADA includes a broad definition of who has to have ADA compliant websites, so you should make your website ADA compliant to save yourself from potential trouble.
What if your website is not ADA compliant?
You might lose out on additional web traffic. Additionally, if your website is not ADA compliant, you are at risk for a lawsuit, as well as a possible public relations problem on top of the costs of rebuilding your website to be ADA compliant. Lawsuits are not happening at a rapid rate at this moment but there’s potential for them moving forward. In 2010, there were over 56 million people with disabilities, and that number increases every few years. Not being ADA compliant turns those people away because of your website’s inaccessibility.
How to Meet ADA Compliance Standards
First, you can check if your website is ADA compliant by using the ADA Compliance Website Checker for a manual test.
The WCAG 2.1 guidelines has a three-tiered grading system for you to follow: Level A, where your website is only accessible to some users; Level AA, where your website is accessible by almost all users; and Level AAA, where your website is accessible by all users.
Users visiting your website should be able to perceive all of the information, like text, images, videos, etc. Include options of text to speech and closed captioning to create perceivable content.
Those visiting your website should be able to navigate its features and site tools. This is something that most likely needs to be written into your HTML, so you should hire a web developer.
Your website needs to be easily understood, and you can achieve this by giving users instructions for your website’s tools and features.
Your website, even if you make it ADA compliant, should give everyone the same experience when visiting it. Don’t shorten descriptions, directions, explanations, etc. Disabled or not, everyone is human.
ADA Compliance Checklist
If you need a checklist like me to make sure you have crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s, Here is one I found on siteimprove.com :
Step 1: Read the law documentation
Step 2: All media files and maps should have an “alt” tag
Step 3: All your online forms should have descriptive html tags
Step 4: All hyperlinks should have a descriptive anchor text
Step 5: All pages on your website have “skip navigation” links
Step 6: All the text content should be structured using proper heading tags
Step 7: All PDF files should be accessible
Step 8: All videos should have subtitles, transcripts and audio description
Step 9: The color contrast of your web pages should be sufficient according to WCAG
Step 10: All fonts should be accessible
Step 11: All HTML tables should be populated with column headers, row identifiers and cell information
Step 12: All audio files on your website should have a written caption
Step 13: All call to action buttons on your website should have an accessible name and an ARIA label
Step 14: All your website should be accessible with keyboard navigation
Step 15: Have a website accessibility policy page
Step 16: Have easily locatable contact information to allow users to request accessibility information
Step 17: Test your website accessibility according to the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines
Step 18: Automate your website accessibility check to prevent missing critical accessibility issue
Currently, many startups face a cost-benefit analysis while also wanting to do make the site accessible. We recommend exploring options as you build your website out and hope that compliance costs will dramatically reduce in the coming years to make these reasonable accommodations. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or an attorney.