How to make your website ADA Compliant


Seven ways to make sure your website is ADA compliant

Are you looking to ensure that your website is ADA compliant? Well, look no further. We have seven surefire ways to make sure that your site is considerate and compliant for our friends with disabilities.

The ADA is renowned for making sure that streets and retail locations are easily accessible for the handicap, but as technology has evolved, so have the needs of disabled people as they travel around the worldwide web.

In 2016 there was a significant case involving the University of California, Berkeley. In that case, the DOJ said the school should adopt The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make their website accessible. Those guidelines are now widely accepted as the standard. So, how can you create an ADA-compliant website? Here are seven steps toward building a more inclusive site and adopting the WCAG.

1. Audit your current site

First things first: What is the state of your current site? There are great tools that we use to conduct an audit of your site, like WAVE or Lighthouse, and by manually testing the site with screen reader software.
To be ADA-compliant a site must meet standards within four categories:
  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

Use the ADA guidelines as a starting point to create a blueprint for your own site.

2. Choose the Right Images

Carefully chosen media are a big part of making websites compliant. When you’re including graphics, they should not flash more than three times per second. Any more flashing, and you could inadvertently induce a seizure in someone who is browsing the page. Graphics should also have a description/caption that can be read aloud to the visually impaired. If you have informative or fun visual content, you want everyone to be able to enjoy and learn from it!

3. Be sure to add Alt-Text and Legible Fonts

Making your website perceivable for all of its potential users takes a lot of thoughtfulness. A variety of things fall under the umbrella of perception. To get started, provide alt-text for all images in your code. Alt-text captions allow site readers to describe your images audibly.

Fonts are another crucial component to accessibility. Use fonts that are easy to read, such as Georgia, Open Sans, and Quicksand. Avoid putting a light font color on a light background; a combination like yellow text on a pale background causes people to strain to read it. Equally problematic is a pale font on a stark black background. Stick to light backgrounds with dark for most of your content.

4. Make site logical and easy to navigate

An ADA-compliant website must also be easy to understand to a large audience. The site should operate in a fundamental and predictable way and have helpful labels over blocks of content and media. For example, put a clear “x” in the upper corner of a pop-up to show users how to close the window. The site should be built in a way that avoids user error and has readable instructions on all forms where users are expected to enter information.

5. Use Standard HTML Tags

The most technical requirement of ADA recommendations relates to solid HTML best practices. In a nutshell, it basically means that the code should be readable by an assistive reader. Most assistive readers are great at understanding text that is in standard HTML format. You should also provide documents in a text-based format at all times, even when you also offer a PDF. Complex image documents can’t be understood by software that reads text aloud for visually impaired website users. The good news is that most website platforms, including WordPress, are designed to operate using modern code format.

6. Make the Site Keyboard- and Pause-Friendly

The primary function of the “operable” category of ADA standards is to ensure your site can be navigated using a keyboard alone. Not all users are able to interact with a touchscreen or grip a mouse. This category also relates to the overall navigation. For instance, readers should be able to pause content or slow down automatic scrolling/slideshow movements. Eliminate any videos that autoplay and have a time-limit. And, of course, make sure that all video interactions and pausing can be completed using keyboard functions.

7. Remain Up-to-Date on Compliance Changes

Remember that ADA needs are ongoing. As new technologies are made available for people with disabilities, they should be accounted for in your web code. A good start is making sure the text easily readable and the code works with assistive readers, it’s true. A truly compliant (and usable) ADA-compliant website will adopt new best practices as they emerge.

Creating an ADA-compliant website takes time. When you’re scoping out this project, allow several weeks — not days. Use this ADA Checklist to do a quick audit of your site today. If you answer “No” to even one question, you have work to do! Making your site compliant with the ADA means all users will feel comfortable on your site and be able to use it for its intended purpose. In the end, everyone wins.

If you’d like assistance creating an ADA compliant website for your business or brand, please reach out to us and we’d be happy to help ensure your success.


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