What is the ADA?
ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities ActNew Window. It was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990, and it’s America’s most important law regarding accessibility and civil rights for people with disabilities, including web accessibility.
ADA compliance is short for the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. What that means is that all electronic information and technology—i.e, your website—must be accessible to those with disabilities.
ADA is often confused with Section 508. However, ADA differs in that it’s a civil law that mandates the inclusion of all people, especially those with disabilities, in all areas of public life. That includes the workplace, schools, transportation, and any other places open to the general public. So while ADA requires websites and content to be accessible, it has broader guidelines that cover all disabilities and environments.
Is your website following the ADA compliance standards?
In 2010, the United States Department of Justice released specific guidelines for all public organizations to follow to become accessible to all people with disabilities. That includes all disabled people that use computers and smart devices.
Becoming ADA compliant is a proactive effort to not only make all organizations inclusive, but by becoming accessible to all people, it’s a proactive way for organizations to grow.
If all public spheres must adhere to ADA compliance standards, does that mean you do too?
Because ADA applies to all electronic information and technology, i.e., the world wide web and all its websites, ADA compliance applies to virtually all businesses and web developers.
Some examples include:
Ultimately, all websites should be ADA compliant and inclusive to everyone – even if the ADA standards don’t apply to you and your organization.
In most cases, when ADA compliance standards are left unmet, it’s not intentional. However, that doesn’t matter because if your website isn’t ADA compliant you’re at risk for a hefty lawsuit. Even if you unintentionally skipped the guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, you could still end up paying thousands of dollars in lawsuits if you’re website isn’t accessible to everyone.
In addition to a lawsuit, you’ll also be facing the following for being non-compliant with ADA compliance standards:
On top of all of this, you run the risk of losing customers for not making your website accessible to those that are disabled. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people with disabilities increases by the millions every few years. As of 2010, there were over 56 million people with disabilities—that’s A LOT of people potentially being turned away due to a lack of accessibility.
So, how do you comply with ADA? You do so by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Across the board, the first recommendation you’ll receive is to go by WCAG 2.0. The WCAG 2.0 guidelines have a three-tiered grading system:
Level A: Your website is only accessible by some users
Level AA: Your website is accessible by almost all users
Level AAA: Your website is accessible by all users
It’s usually good enough to meet Level AA compliance standards. However, your best bet is to build (or rebuild) your website to be 100% compliant so that you don’t leave anybody out.
Here’s a breakdown of what the core principles of the WCAG guidelines look like:
All users should have the ability to perceive any and all information that appears on your website. That includes things like text, images, videos, and so on.
When we say perceivable, we’re talking about offering alternatives to create accessibility. For example, if your users can’t see, there should be an option to listen to the text. If they can’t hear, there should be an option for closed captioning.
All of your users should be able to navigate your website with ease. Any user should be able to utilize every feature you offer, such as site tools. This is something that likely has to be written into your HTML, which means you’ll need a web developer who is current with ADA compliance standards.
Aside from being able to “view” your website and navigate through it, your users also need to be able to understand what they’re reading, listening to, and so on. One way to implement this concept is by providing instructions that come with the site tools, navigation menu, forms, or any other features your website offers.
Even if your disabled users are supported by assisted technologies, you still want them to have the same overall experience as your non-disabled users. That means no matter how the content of your website is delivered, it should all be universal. Don’t shorten descriptions, directions, explanations, etc. Treat all users the same by providing them with the full user experience.
For some, ADA compliance means overhauling your entire website to ensure that the accessible alternatives are built into their HTML coding. It’s costly and tedious, but it’s also necessary. Plus, it’ll become even more costly if you don’t do it.
Think of ADA compliance as a good thing. It’s a way to make your organization inclusive to all, which means more business and a better reputation. If you need help getting started, contact to Stutek. We have plenty of experiences and we’ll have you at the highest level of ADA compliance in no time.
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