All people should have easy access to read, see and understand the content of your website. This basic belief is the foundation for website ADA compliance. For some people, it’s not as simple as opening a web browser, navigating to your website URL, reading the words on a screen, looking at pictures, watching videos, clicking links and downloading files. People may need to use screen readers or other technologies to help them navigate websites. Others may find discomfort in viewing websites with too many animations or colors occurring at once.
Whether you are designing and developing a new website or updating your current site, ensuring your website is ADA compliant doesn’t have to be daunting or require that you start your whole web project from scratch.
Below, we break down the steps to ensure your website is ADA compliant.
But first, who decides what is or isn’t ADA compliant for the web?
The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative is seen as the governing body for driving what is and isn’t considered ADA complaint in the digital landscape. Currently, WCAG 2.1 is the standard that most organizations strive to achieve, but WCAG 2.2 is in draft form and is expected to be finalized in May 2023.
Take these steps today to ensure ADA compliance for your website:
- Website Color Palette: Check the colors of your website’s design for color contrast and how to best use them in the design using the WebAIM Contrast Checker. Make adjustments to your design’s color palette if needed.
- Website Design: Design your website to use headlines and sub-headlines to help guide the flow of content. Be mindful to not use overly flashy animation or too much movement on a single page.
- Website Content: Avoid the use of directional language in your copy since a responsive website’s content and multi-media layout will shift based on the screen size of a device. A button that is “to the left of a photo” on a desktop or laptop computer may actually be under the photo on a mobile screen.
- Images: Ensure that all images on your website include written alt tags to describe what the image shows. Be brief and to the point in your descriptions (e.g., two girls sitting on a blanket having a panic in the park.)
- Website Development: Build your website using semantic markup and structure. Semantic markup consists of HTML tags that define elements on the page so that it is both human-readable and machine-readable. For example, H1, H2, H3, etc., help to define headlines and titles; tags like <p> designates the content is a paragraph; a <b> tag defines bold text; <nav> designates navigation links; <select> denotes a drop-down list.
- PDF Files: Using Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can make your PDF files accessible by following the steps provided.
- Run Tests: Run tests on your programmed website using Google Lighthouse, WAVE and the Chrome browser AXE extension. These tests will provide you with a report and percentage ranking of how your website performed. Fix the issues that these reports uncovered to aid in better ADA compliance. If an issue can’t be fixed easily, highlight it as a “known issue” in your website accessibility statement.
- Website Accessibility Statement: Create a website accessibility statement page for your website that details your efforts to create an ADA compliant website, any known issues or areas that you are still working to address and contact information for someone at your company people can reach out to for help if they need additional ADA compliance support.
- Run Tests Periodically: Website technology changes and the ADA compliance standards may be modified, so it’s important to review and test your website for ADA compliance on a regular basis and at least annually.
Through inclusive planning and design, Nuffer Smith Tucker (NST) designs and develops websites with accessibility at the forefront. NST abides by and accounts for Section-508 guidelines. NST also partners with a third-party ADA compliance and inclusivity accessibility consultant to provide specialized oversight and manual user testing for websites and other electronic content projects as needed. If you need help creating or updating a website or other electronic content for your organization, we’d love to work with you.