Five tips to improve accessibility and avoid potential legal issues

It all starts in 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. Influenced by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which established protection against discrimination based on religion, sex, race, or national origin, the ADA promised to end discrimination based on different abilities.

Even though the internet wasn’t as vast as it is now, nobody expected it would bloom as the cornerstone of universal commerce. That said, the ADA lacked specific details regarding website readiness, creating plot holes that continue to unfold today.

Without specific guidance on website ADA compliance, the courts became the ruling source. With different opinions held by various courts across the country, and without a clear written guide as to what businesses could do to make their websites ADA compliant, many organizations have faced legal actions.

For example, in the court case Domino’s Pizza v. Guillermo Robles, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the pizza giant due to the lack of vision accessibility on its mobile app and website. Businesses can also be fined up to $75,000 for single ADA violation with a maximum of $150,000.

As confusing and puzzling as this new era of digital compliance might be, one thing is for sure: ADA compliance can be achieved through a series of steps based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

What is the WCAG?

Since the ADA doesn’t have a clear written set of rules for website compliance, many businesses and organizations use the WCAG as a guidepost. While not stated as a legal requirement, it is often used as a reference point for websites to be digitally accessible.

Within the WCAG, there are four principles upon which every website is reviewed: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Each of these principles has a set of guidelines with different conformance levels.

Five quick tips to make your website ADA compliant

In this digital age, every organization and business must make sure their websites are virtually accessible for every user. Want to make sure your website is ADA compliant?

Follow these easy tips:

  1. Color contrast: Background and font colors with low to zero contrast can be difficult for someone with color blindness, low vision, or dyslexia. The WCAG 2.0 level AA says a contrast ratio of 4.5 for normal text and 3 to 1 for large text (14 points, bold and larger).
  2. Keyboard access and compatibility: Having only a pop-up calendar or date without letting the user type can be troublesome if the user has physical disabilities. Therefore, the functionality should be usable with the keyboard itself, so the user can move, and click around links, buttons, tab keys, and options from their keyboard without the need for a mouse.
  1. ALT text on images: A website with images can’t be converted to speech yet, so users with low vision or blindness will have a hard time understanding what’s being presented. That is why every image on the website needs to have a description or an ALT attribute.
  1. Meaningful link text: Screen reader users might prefer navigating the content through links, so unclear text links might come across as confusing, and meaningless. Concise, short and descriptive text links are useful for the user to understand the page, and to have a smooth navigation.
  1. Text transcript for videos and audio: A website with video or audio without a text transcript would be inaccessible to hearing-impaired users. Hence, it’s recommended to add a text transcript for the user to understand the content.

Update your website today

Review your website quarterly or bi-annually to ensure it meets generally agreed-upon website accessibility standards such as the WCAG. Two quick tests you can take to verify your ADA website compliance are the WAVE Accessibility Tool or the browser extension by Siteimprove.

Remember, these are just automated services with default entries, so they may not assist you with color contrast ratio, accessible keyboard navigation, simple headlines, or spaces. This is why a manual review is always recommended.

For those who want the assurance of a manual review, Gavin’s digital team offers ADA website audits. Audit services are customized solutions based on variables, including the size of the website and the level of compliance sought.

Contact us today to set up a free 30-minute consultation or to discuss how Gavin can help your organization reach and maintain ADA website compliance.