Your Quick Guide to Achieving
ADA Website Compliance
If you run a website, it’s important to take all the necessary steps to ensure the site is accessible to every user. It’s not just because providing a consistent experience is good for business. You’re actually required by law to do so. In this post, you’ll learn about the ADA, WCAG, and how to provide equal accessibility to people with disabilities.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The ADA, short for Americans with Disabilities Act, is a bill that was signed by U.S. President George Bush in 1990. It was created to outlaw discrimination and provide people with disabilities equal civic rights, privileges, and accessibility to accommodations.
ADA Title III expressly prohibits discrimination in “public accommodations,” including but not limited to:
- Shopping malls
- Sports stadiums
- Public transportation
Basically, every business, government service, and public place of accommodation is required to comply with the ADA.
But what about businesses and services in the digital space?
This is where ADA website compliance steps in.
Why It Matters to Website Owners
In the digital world, we rely on websites and online services just as much as public accommodations.
They affect pretty much every aspect of modern life—be it personal, professional, or business-related. That’s why the United States Department of Justice recognizes websites and technology as forms of public accommodations.
Since 2016, there has been a steady rise in ADA website accessibility lawsuits, peaking at 2,352 lawsuits in 2021. Most of these lawsuits are filed against retail, services, and consumer goods websites. But even if you don’t belong to these niches, website accessibility isn’t something you should put on the back burner.
The awareness around website accessibility is rising each year, and the growing number of lawsuits and demand letters prove it. Remember, small businesses could spend upwards of $25,000 just to address a single demand letter. Not to mention the damage it could do to your brand’s reputation. On the bright side, complying with ADA website accessibility isn’t supposed to be difficult.
8 Steps to Help You Achieve ADA Website Compliance
To help website owners with ADA website compliance, the W3C or World Wide Web Consortium created the WCAG. This stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which is now at version 2.2. It’s a long, exhaustive article that contains everything you need to know to achieve optimal website accessibility for all users. Below are the important steps to ensure compliance with the WCAG 2.2:
1. Make Authentication Steps More Accessible
When authenticating the user’s identity, your website should support input via password managers or copy-pasting. Doing so will be of great help to users with problems with their memory or transcription skills.
2. CAPTCHA Should Involve Common, Recognizable Objects
If you’re using CAPTCHA for processes like logins or checkouts, use tests that include universally recognizable objects.
CAPTCHAs that require users to select boxes containing an object or sliding a puzzle into place are good examples. Tests that involve text or math problems, however, can be seen as discriminatory.
It’s also important to offer alternatives like audio CAPTCHAs for users with vision-related disabilities.
3. Make Sure Controls Are Always Visible
Control elements like “settings” and “back” buttons should be visible whenever they’re useful. Avoid interface design choices that automatically hide these elements under any condition.
4. Streamline Redundant Entry With Autofill
Redundant entry happens when a user has to re-enter information on a registration page, checkout page, or anything similar. This normally occurs when the page reloads due to unintentional user input, connectivity issue, or problem with the website itself.
During which, the information they previously entered should be autofilled and ready once the page finishes reloading. If not, users should be able to select and copy the information they entered for later use.
5. Make Dragging Controls Optional
For websites with sliders, drag-and-drop, and other interface elements that require a dragging motion, accessible controls must be present.
Let’s say your website uses drag-and-drop controls, allowing users to add items to their shopping cart. Rather than depending on that feature alone, they should be able to add products by clicking or tapping a button.
6. Make It Easy To Find Help
You can make your website more accessible by providing help mechanisms that are easy to find and readily available.
Don’t require users to dig multiple pages for information such as a phone number, support email, or live chat button. If none of these options are available, offer self-help options through FAQ pages, tutorials, and “Help” pages.
7. Use The 3:1 Contrast Ratio For Focused Elements
When selecting elements like form buttons or links, a focus indicator with a contrast ratio of 3:1 is required. This makes the focused element more visible and identifiable over adjacent elements.
As a result, people with vision or mobility problems will have a smooth experience, even when using only a keyboard.
8. Make Clickable Elements At Least 24 CSS Pixels
Clickable elements, like sharing buttons and menu items, should have a target space of at least 24 CSS pixels.
That doesn’t mean they should all be at least 24×24 pixels big. For example, if a button is 20×20 pixels, but if the next adjacent button is 24 pixels away, that’s acceptable.
Other Important Steps for ADA Website Compliance
The list above highlights the most important accessibility requirements from the WCAG 2.2 for websites.
However, those aren’t the only things that require your attention.
Here are other important steps that will help you with ADA website compliance:
- Make fonts large and readable
- Videos and audio clips should have captions
- Use “alt tags” for media
- Use column and row headers for HTML tables
- Enable keyboard controls for website navigation
- Simplify your navigation elements
- Add a “Skip navigation” link to enable users to jump straight to your content
At the end of the day, optimizing your website’s accessibility doesn’t only help disabled users. It will also create a more streamlined and intuitive experience for everyone else.
The ADA website accessibility requirements may serve as a wake-up call to all website owners. In the digital world, usability and accessibility go hand in hand. Prioritize both to boost the user experience and your website’s success will follow.