Why It’s Important to have an ADA Compliant Site

Let’s talk about ADA compliance and your website.

49.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with a disability – that’s almost 20% of the population! If you owned a store & 1 out of every 5 people that visited couldn’t get in – you’d do something about it, right? In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by George H. W. Bush. But before the ADA was created, accessibility wasn’t mandatory, or even very well-regulated. Within that law the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were created – this gives business owners a guide to make their website accessible to all that may visit it, but sadly not many small businesses follow these guidelines. The guidelines are continuously being updated and changed as the web evolves, the most recent version (2.1) was released in July of this year.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) has four major principles:

  1. Perceivable
  2. Operable
  3.  Understandable
  4.  Robust –  This principle was added in 2008

There are a lot of sub-categories within each of these principles but I’ll review the main points in each. To find a complete breakdown of all the requirements there’s a handy quick reference guide.

Perceivable

Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.

Simply put, having all information (even those in graphs, images, etc) be able to be understood. This is usually accomplished with alternative text or captions for images, graphs, and videos. This also means that the text should easily be able to read so no crazy color combinations. I’ve seen people try to put red text on a pink background – that’s impossible to read!

 

Operable

User interface components and navigation must be operable.

Not everyone surfing the web is using a mouse & keyboard in conjunction. Some may only be using an adapted keyboard or a screen reader. Having your site be navigable by third-party programs that are meant to do these things is imperative. If an individual using this sort of assistive technology can’t navigate your website, I guarantee they will leave. This section also goes over flashing content. Strobe-like motion on a website could send someone into a seizure. It’s best to stick to slow-moving motion effects if you’re going to use them.

 

Understandable

Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.

This principle is pretty easy to follow & a majority of websites already follow this. If you have a bunch of mumbo-jumbo on the page it’s clearly not understandable by anyone. Imagine having a screen reader read out a long string of unintelligible words – you’d be confused and probably pretty infuriated. As long as your website is written with proper sentence structure and makes logical sense this principle can be met.

 

Robust

Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

This principle is predominately included for screen readers. Mentioning in the code what language the content is in, clearly marking elements such as contact forms, images, etc., and properly including status messages.

 

These principles can seem pretty complicated, but in reality, they’re relatively simple to implement. Another bonus to having your website accessible to all is SEO! All of these requirements are very similar (if not taking it a step further) to those for great SEO.

If you’re interested in implementing WCAG requirements to your website contact us & we’d be happy to help!

Did anything surprise you? If so let me know down in the comments!

Valerie Baker
Valerie Baker
Valerie is the Support Lead here at Atilus. She has a background in digital marketing & is becoming certified in front-end development.

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