In 2018, there were over 2250 federal website accessibility lawsuits. In 2021, there was a 14% jump from 2020. The lawsuits claimed people with disabilities couldn’t use the sites. The sites didn’t work with assistive technologies. All the suits were in federal court under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990. The Act regulates physical locations to provide easy access to people with disabilities. The goal was an equal experience for everyone.
In 2016, the ADA started to include websites. The goal is equal opportunities for everyone who visits a business on the web.
An ADA website lets people using assistive technology experience online products and services. ADA compliance also reduces the risk for a federal lawsuit.
Keep reading to learn how to update your site.
Required ADA Website Compliance
An ADA compliant website meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). But is your website required to meet the guidelines?
There are three situations when a business site must meet the WCAG guidelines used in the ADA for accessiblity:
- Local, State or Government Agencies
- Businesses that Benefit the Public
- Private Employers with 15 or More Employees
Every business should provide an online experience that’s accessible to everyone.
An audit tests every web page with the same technology people with disabilities use. It checks the site against the WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards required for both ADA and Section 504/508.
It’s the best way to ensure complete accessibility and compliance. The cost of the audit depends on the website. Complex sites with a large number of pages cost more.
Even if you don’t have a legal concern now, it’s smart to identify problems and correct them.
10 Factors That Affect ADA Website Compliance
The U.S. legal system references WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria to determine if sites are accessible. There are 38 requirements, referred to as the success criterion.
In the best scenario, a website meets all 38 of the success criteria. A site that doesn’t meet every rule can still be accessible, but not compliant.
The important thing is to start. Begin with one thing, like adding alt text to images on the home page and the pages with high traffic.
Review the items below to find another issue and correct it. Step by step, you’ll move closer to total compliance.
1. Alt Text
Add alternate texts (ALT TEXT) to all the important images on your website. Describe the image in a meaningful way so it makes sense to someone who can’t see it.
The most common complaint in demand letters and lawsuits is lack of alt text.
2. Use Closed Captioning
Every video on your website needs closed captioning. If you host videos on YouTube it’s easy to add closed captions.
Updating alt text and closed captioning are big steps towards ADA compliance.
3. Audio Descriptions for Video
Add audio descriptions on videos that don’t speak for themselves.
The guidelines say audio descriptions should be during pauses in the video. This suggestion takes extra time and effort.
4. Text Transcripts
Add a transcript of the text under any and all video-only and audio-only posts on your website to augment closed captioning.
5. Don’t Use Images of Text
Never use an image of text instead of the actual text. Someone using a screen reader won’t be able to “read” it.
6. Drop Automatic Content
Get rid of automatic content when possible. The WCAG 2.0 gives the option of using pop-ups, scrolling, and blinking content if the user can pause, stop or hide them.
Give the user full control over any static website forms.
7. Accessible by Keyboard
The website should be useable without a mouse. That means someone can get around the site with the keyboard arrow and tab buttons.
Test your site by disconnecting the mouse. Can you access and engage with your website without it? If your answer is yes, your site is accessible.
8. Create an Intuitive Website
Make your website predictable. Each page should be logical. Use consistent navigation.
Set a language for your site. Use clear and concise title tags on each page. Label each important element of your website.
Use descriptive links and headers. Be as obvious as possible so readers know what to expect. Don’t make them guess the meaning of a headline or where a link takes them.
Allow users to skip to the heart of your content. Give users several ways to access the content. Create many ways to navigate the website.
Simple is best for online forms. Make them easy to fill out.
9. Font Characteristics
When it comes to fonts, size and color are the most important characteristics.
All fonts should stand out from the background color. Use a color threshold of at least 4.5:1. This makes the text easier to read and scan.
Make it possible to scale text to 200% while maintaining site functions.
10. Time Limits
Don’t put any time constraints on access unless you have no choice.
Remember, if your site doesn’t meet all 38 success criteria it isn’t always in violation of the ADA. Use these guidelines to do what you can.
Contact ADA Compliance Services Before Updating Your Website
Proper website coding is essential. Someone with an alternative input device can’t access a site that isn’t coded for disabilities.
But, if your site isn’t compliant you don’t have to start over. You can hire a professional to check and clean up your code.
Building an accessible ADA website isn’t a one-time project. It’s a process. You must make sure each piece of new content is accessible.
Other aspects of compliance include training staff and setting policy. Hire a professional consultant for expert advice.
Contact Get ADA Compliance Services to discuss your website. We’re ready to help you meet all the requirements so all clients have easy access to your business.