The American wit Disabilities Act (ADA for short) is a law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life - which up until recently did not really include the internet. But, with more and more people being connected and getting online, it is more important than ever to ensure that your site is accessible to everyone. As technology evolves it is the responsibility of web designers, to create an ADA compliant website to meet the needs of the disabled on the internet.
It may sound a little complicated but, you're probably doing a few of the things required to make your site ADA compliant already. Some other requirements may not have crossed your mind, but, they are easy to remedy.
I'll be honest, I had no idea this was even a thing until I began designing for others. I came across the guidelines and now I make it standard practice to adhere to them as best I can when I design for myself and my clients.
A Little History About ADA Website Compliance
In 2016, a case involving the University of California the DOJ determined that the school should adopt the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make their website accessible. Those guidelines are now widely accepted as the standard.
To check your website for ADA compliance you can always hire outside help or keep reading to take the first steps to do it yourself. Your site will need to meet several guidelines in these four areas:
Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. To ensure you meet this criteria, you'll want to add text descriptions to images on your site. You should provide the most important content at the top of your site - make it easy to find.
For example, you don't want to have your context scrolling throughout the page or blurred or in some weird animation - even though it may look cool, it will make it difficult for some to read. So, you can change it up or provide an alternative option for them to read. An easy way to do this is to create clear contrast - meaning you don't want to put light text on a light background (this is pretty obvious and probably something you're already doing!).
Your site should have information presented in a logical layout to make it easy for visitors to find what they need. Again, you're probably already doing this as you want your site to be as clear as possible. Some other things to note in this category are: make sure that your images are not flashing without a 3 second pause in between (less may cause seizures in some visitors), present information with enough time for visitors to read it (meaning you don't want to put up timed paragraphs without them being able to rewind or backscroll to read properly), and you want to make your site keyboard accessible for those who may not be able to use a mouse.
This is an easy one, your site should present information in clear manner - preferably keeping language simple with easy to read fonts. This is good practice in general as you don't want to scare away your visitors if they can't read or understand your content.
Your pages should also flow in a predictable manner, you wouldn't make your about page take you to your sales page so, this is likely something you're putting into practice as well.
Content must be robust enough that it can be easily read by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
As technology advances and more of our lives come online - these guidelines will become more standard and required. As is, certain parts of these guidelines are required by law, others are recommended and others still, are only suggested. It is probably better to get ahead of the curve and start adjusting your site now, otherwise you might be left scrambling when these practices do become mandatory for all sites.
As general good practice, all my web design packages include ADA design regulations and I review the site prior to handing it over to you to ensure it meets as many of the criteria as possible. Is your site compliant?