The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public.It gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. In September 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. These standards state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities and apply to all information technology, including computer hardware, software and documentation.
In 2018, the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the WWW), in its efforts to make online content more accesible, released the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. Although these guidelines were written to facilitate accessibility for people with all kinds of disabilities to a wide range of electronic devices, following these principles will also often make Web content more usable to all kind of users.
What Makes a Website Accessible, ADA Compliant?
WCAG are based on the four Principles of Accessibility principles:
Perceivable: The content is presented and available to everyone, including with persons with disabilities. Users may have difficulties with one or more of their senses, making them reliant on some kind of assistive technology.
Operable: A website interface should provide a basic level of interaction that a person with disabilities can perform.
Understandable: Information and operation of the user interface must be simple, understandable and provide clear instructions.
Robust: Content should remain accessible by newer user agents, like browsers and screen readers, for instance. For that, your website must meet standards, such as using clean HTML and CSS.
How can you make sure your website is ADA compliant.
There are several ways you can check if your website is ADA complaint and plugins that help you fix it. Sometimes it could be as simple as:
Provide alternatives: Alt-text, close captions, transcriptions of audio and video files. It is about providing the user with an alternative access to the information.
Keyboard-accessible: Your website must be fully accessible without a mouse by using the arrow or tab buttons.
Intuitive user interface: provide clear page titles, descriptives headers, make the pages predictable and logical. Provide more than one way to access the content by enabling search and content filters. Forms must be simple and easy to fill out.
Font properties: Use font sizes and color combinations people can actually read. Make the page layout flexible enough to support a page magnification without cutting content because it doesn’t fit in containers.
Consider mobile: There are plenty of examples of beautiful desktop versions of websites that are very bad on mobile. The fonts are too small, text styles are a direct replica of the desktop version, photos are the same as desktop, etc. The result is a website that doesn’t render or is optimized for mobile.
Finally, you may consider using a ADA complaint plugin that works with your CRM or page language. There are many free and premium plugins that will increase WCAG 2.1 compliance to your website without messing around with your code. Here at Persimmon Creative we like UserWay but there are many others.