Passed in 1990, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) is our nation’s first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities. If you have ever noticed the braille on an ATM or been a part of a hiring process, you know that specific things are put in place so that people with disabilities are afforded the same rights and advantages as those without disabilities. A part of the ADA that is rarely mentioned mandates creating websites and accessibility to other telecommunication avenues as well.
In January of this year new federal regulations went into effect, yet many websites are still trying to catch up and meet all the new regulations to be fully compliant. We’ve broken down these new specifications and what can be done to comply if your current website doesn’t currently meet the new standards.
Do all Websites Need to be ADA Compliant?
Title III of the ADA pertains to businesses in private sectors. Recently, more and more lawsuits have come to the surface exposing and examining issues of website accessibility. As websites and applications have become more and more prominent in our daily lives, all web interfaces need to be ADA compliant.
Currently, the general consensus on application of the new regulations is that all websites and web applications that represent a business must be easy for the general public to access and understand. Examples include B2C websites, retail and ecommerce, or even informational websites that are used by the public.
Many websites and softwares that can scan your site specifically for compliance issues are available to you.
How to Become Compliant
While there are many websites and softwares that can scan your site specifically for compliance issues, hiring a Digital Agency and Web Development team is the most efficient and thorough way to make sure that your website meets all of the 61 guidelines as laid out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Not only will they be able to look at these guidelines and know what your website is missing, the agency will also have the knowledge to know precisely what needs to be done to your website in order to make it compliant. In any case, these are a few of the primary stipulations that will be examined:
- Text: Your text must be able to stand out against the background of your site or application so that it can be read with ease. While this may seem obvious, more often than not, this issue causes some major design changes.
- Navigation: Your website must be able to be completely navigated by using a keyboard only. This requires making sure your site has functions like skip navigation buttons and a manually option for setting a tabindex.
- Accessibility: Each website should be navigable with screen reader software. This is harder to test and can involve some major fixes, but presents nothing your web team can’t handle.
- Text Scaling: Each website must be able to managle text scaling up to 200%, without causing issues in formatting such as horizontal-scrolling or content layout breaking issues.
Making your website compliant is only half of the work that must be done. Compliance standards are always evolving, and therefore your website must also be evolving as well. Web developers are required to constantly aware of these changes in standards so that they can be sure their clients’ sites are up to date. When you hire a digital agency to complete this task for you, they will assume the responsibility of ensuring that your website is up to date.
Why ADA Compliance Matters
Compliance is not just an issue to avoid a lawsuit, but it is a marker for other characteristics of your business integrity and intelligence. Websites and applications that are up to date demonstrate a business with an essential knowledge and abiding concern not only for new technology standards but also for the needs of their community. Creating and maintaining a website that is compliant demonstrates a commitment to inclusion and diversity, and can serve as a mirror to these core values of your business.