ADA Site Compliance
ADA site compliance is short for the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessible websites. It means that any public-facing website must be accessible to people with disabilities. The ADA site accessibility standards are provided under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The primary objective of ADA site compliance is to make information on all public-facing websites equally accessible to people with and without disabilities. Should content not be accessible to a person with a disability, the law views this fact as discriminatory and the company with this digital property is exposed for an ADA lawsuit.
ADA site compliance should not be confused with 508-site compliance. ADA site compliance protects the civil rights of people with disabilities who engage in site-related commerce, whereas 508-site compliance ensures accessibility for digitally published material within the federal government, its agencies, and organizations that receive federal funding and other opportunities.
ADA site compliance encompasses three key components, namely, the technical requirements, functional requirements, and support. Technical requirements ensure that coding of the site, the software, and the operating systems, among others, integrates with assistive technologies. The functional component requires the site to be completely usable by people with disabilities, whereas the support component ensures that the support documents and alternative information is accessible to people with disabilities. If a site doesn’t meet all of these three requirements, then it fails the legal test for ADA site compliance.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ADA Site Compliance
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) outline the principles that accessibility featured websites should follow in order to provide a positive navigation experience for people with disabilities. WCAG categorizes the ADA site compliance action areas for the delivery of an accessible website as follows:
- “Level A compliance” denotes that the site meets a few of the overall ADA site compliance requirements but does not take a comprehensive approach to site accessibility.
- “Level AA compliance” demonstrates that the ADA site compliance audit that preceded the declaration of the compliance level established that the site meets the most critical aspects of site accessibility.
- “Level AAA compliance” goes beyond providing access to people with disabilities, such as ensuring that a site’s landing page meets these standards.
5 Best Practices in ADA Site Compliance
Based on our extensive experience in the ADA site compliance audit arena as well as a judicious review of web accessibility resources, we’ve identified ten best practices for ADA site compliance. These include: having useful page titles and subheadings; making extensive use of alternative text; using bold colors; using simple writing, and giving people the option of increasing the size of text on the site when reading it.
(a) Useful page titles and subheadings
The main titles of the site, also known as the H1 heading; the page title tag, which is the title that appears in search engines; and the subheadings on the landing page, which describe what the page is about, are examples of best practice in ADA site compliance. The subheadings are also straightforward throughout the site.
(b) Use of alternative text
Alternative text, also known as “alt text,” is a written description of an image that assists people with visual impairments in understanding the purpose of the image. People with visual impairments, and the use of screen readers, can listen to a sound bite of the written text when alternative text is added to a site, which is also considered SEO best practice because it improves the site’s ranking for relevant searches.
(c) Use of bold colors
People with visual impairments may struggle to read your site’s content if you use the wrong colors for the background and text. The use of bold and user-friendly colors is the best practice for 2022 because it makes it easier for everyone to navigate the site, including people with color blindness and other visual challenges.
(d) Use of simple writing
The best practice guide for ADA site compliance in 2022 includes writing your site’s content in simple and easy-to-understand language. Having content written in a simple and easy-to-read style allows people of all reading levels to gain useful insights from your site.
(e) Giving people the option of increasing text size
Small text is difficult to read for many people. As a result, the WCAG states that, with the exception of captions and image text, the text should be able to be sized without assistive technology up to 200 percent without losing content or functionality. Users should be able to increase the text size directly from the site as they navigate through it.
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