10 Strategies Public Institutions Can Employ To Make Their Websites ADA Compliant
With continual advancements in technology, it is fair to say that usage of it is going to keep increasing in the future. This means that more and more websites will be developed and the amount of traffic on the internet is also going to increase. This is why it is so important to ensure that your website is ADA compliant.
What Is ADA Compliance?
The rights of individuals with disabilities have been protected for over thirty years now. That was when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted which specifically prohibits discrimination to anyone with a disability in employment, public services, public accommodation, and telecommunications. That last point includes the internet.
You’ve seen evidence of the ADA already in your surroundings. Public establishments meet guidelines that are enforced by law to provide access to all. If you have parked next to a handicapped parking space anywhere on the street or in a parking lot, it is there because of the ADA. However, the same guidelines have only recently been enforced online.
The ADA regulations for web accessibility went into effect on January 2018. While it is understood that not every organization can be 100% compliant, there are ways to make your website accessible to anyone with a disability. Here are a few examples of how to achieve this:
1 – Review WCAG
The Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) document will provide you with several recommendations on how to make your website more accessible. This is a perfect starting point as you will discover the significance of having a website that can be accessed by everyone who uses the internet.
2 – Audit Your Website
According to Digital Authority Partners, there are a couple of great online tools that will permit you to conduct an audit of your website. They include Google Chrome’s WAVE Tool which will look for and alert you to accessibility issues such as missing alt tags plus more.
3 – Include Alt Tags
All the images that appear on your website should contain descriptive alt tags. Alt tags are read by screen readers, players, and voiceovers that are used by some individuals to describe the elements on a website. They also can improve your page rankings as alt tags are also used by search engines to better understand the content of a page with images.
4 – Review Your Elements
Take a good, hard look at your website and review the styles and elements used. This should include headings, buttons, links and more. Try to imagine that all kinds of users will be visiting your website and think about how your website appears and functions for them. Navigation should be one element to focus on and try to simplify as much as possible.
5 – Use Best Practices
Web content should be simple and conversational which can help users to understand easier while they scan it quickly. By breaking up your written content with headlines and subheadlines you make the content form smaller chunks which also assists in reading and understanding. When using abbreviations and acronyms, do not skip the periods between the letters as this helps screen readers to comprehend them.
6 – Audit The Code
Unless you can do it yourself, have a web developer review the CSS and code of your website to ensure that best practices are being used. Also, when you audit the website code you can remove outdated code.
7 – Use An ADA Agency
If ensuring that your website is ADA Compliant seems like a bigger task than you are prepared to take on yourself, you can contact an ADA agency. Many of them are using the web platform or framework and you will be able to receive assistance with your website compliance issues.
8 – Fix It Or Replace It
Working with an ADA Agency will provide you with a report on the overall level of work required to bring your website to compliance. It is will this information where you will have to decide if it is worth the expense and time to correct existing problems with your website or to replace it completely. Typically, some changes are better than not making any.
9 – Keep Current
The one thing to remember about ADA Compliance is that it is not something you can do once and never have to be concerned about it again. Compliance standards will change over time and it is important to stay up-to-date on those changes. The same thing applies to your website when a standard is updated, so should your website to match that change.
10 – Monitor The Website
One of the best ways to ensure that your website stays ADA compliant is to consult with a focus group of individuals with various handicaps. Have them visit your website frequently and request that you be sent feedback on things that could be improved. Something as subtle as a lighter shade of color on a menu may be enough to make it hard to read for some users. Use the feedback constructively on your website.
ADA Compliance should not be viewed as an issue. Rather, it should be considered a valuable set of guidelines that will give your website a competitive edge over many of your competitors. If your website is an eCommerce site, ADA compliance may lead to more business for you and your online business.
Plus, ADA Compliance provides a better overall experience for users regardless of their browser and gives them information that is easier to digest because of the manner in which it is presented. ADA compliance means that Google and other search engines will be able to understand your website and the content on it much better as well which increases traffic.
The biggest bonus for web entrepreneurs who go to the effort to make their website ADA compliant is the fact that their website will automatically reach a wider audience. This is something that you may not consider at first but if everyone, regardless of disability, can access your website, you have opened the doors to these unique users and broadened your customer base.