Does your business site have full accessibility? Even with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) passed back in 1990, many U.S. businesses still struggle with understanding their legal obligations in ADA compliance. So, they avoid taking measures to support site accessibility.
Find out how site accessibility can impact your business and what steps you can take to ensure people with disabilities have full accommodations.
What Accessibility Means for Your Business Site
Site accessibility incorporates specific tools and technologies that are designed for individuals with disabilities to access a website. Web accessibility allows these individuals to fully navigate, understand, and proceed to interact with your site.
Types of disabilities that impair a person’s ability to access a website include the following:
The ADA asserts that all disabled people have the same equal opportunities as the non-disabled. This enactment prevents people with disabilities from discrimination regarding their access to employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, state and local government, and telecommunications.
Businesses must ensure their site is ADA-compliant by following the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). The WCAG provides a complete overview of recommendations you can use to ensure your site’s content allows accessibility for those with disabilities.
While the ADA ensures equal treatment, the WCAG’s purpose is to guide business owners and web developers toward increasing site accessibility for disabled users.
What Are the Four Main Categories of Accessibility?
The WCAG’s guidelines are compacted into four major categories to prevent lawsuits. You can use these guidelines to consider the best strategies for making your site more accessible.
- Administer text alternatives for non-text content.
- Provide captioning and options for time-based media.
- Make content that you can present in several formats without the loss of meaning.
- Make things easier for users to see and listen to content.
- Ensure functionality is available from a keyboard.
- Create enough time for users to read and use the content.
- Avoid designing content that is known to cause seizures.
- Provide users with ways to navigate and find content.
- Ensure text is readable and understandable.
- Allow content to appear and operate in a predictable manner.
- Assist users with avoiding and correcting mistakes.
- Maximize compatibility with current and future tools, including assistive technologies.
Why Your Business Site Needs ADA Compliance
All businesses need to ensure their site is ADA-compliant since 26% of Americans have an impaired disability, which impacts businesses in several ways. You might think this type of audience will not need your goods or services. But users who have these needs are more likely to use the internet for shopping.
With many users who depend on accessibility, your site can provide a user-friendly interface to maintain lifelong customer relationships. Site accessibility should be something you can embrace entirely to reach every type of user, even those with disabilities.
While many businesses choose to ignore these regulations, you want to be sure your business can provide options to avoid any lawsuits. Lawsuits can hurt your business and its reputation. It can also cost a hefty amount of time and money.
How to Ensure Your Website Is Accessible
If your site does not have accessibility, here are a few tips to improve your website:
- Content Management Systems: Pick a content management system like WordPress to support these options. You can use plugins and widgets to ensure you’re following the guidelines.
- Headings: Create an organized structure for your headings so a screen reader user can navigate through the content.
- Alt-text: Alt-text descriptions allow screen readers to understand what type of image is on the page. Make sure to include alt-text descriptions in images when creating content.
- Links: To reduce page length, add some shortcut links to make navigating simple for users. Links should also be descriptive, so the user knows where the links will lead.
- Data Tables: Instead of using tables with data as a layout on a page, utilize CSS to present the content. A screen reader does not formally read the content in order. And the entire process becomes distracting when the screen reader informs the user of how many columns and rows are in the table.
- Forms: Ensure your form fields are correctly labeled so the user can tell what type of content they should enter into each field.
- Colors: Color blindness affects 8% of the world’s population, so keep color in mind when designing your site. A color contrast evaluation tool can help with making your page visible for those with color blindness.
- Keyboard: Make sure your site’s content is accessible by keyboard. Those with mobility issues should have access to your content by pressing the “tab” or “arrow” keys on the keyboard instead of clicking with a mouse or trackpad.
- ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications: Content updates that include pop-ups, screen overlays, in-page updates, and more keep keyboard-only users from navigating the site’s content. Use ARIA roles and other forms of front-end development to ensure users have accessibility.
The Future of Site Accessibility
Site accessibility is constantly changing, so web developers can create more flexible sites than ever for users with disabilities. More options are available today with assistive technologies to make websites more accessible.
Screen readers play a significant role in assisting those who are visually impaired. But technology is adapting with the use of AI (artificial intelligence) to help improve screen readers. With features such as facial recognition and image recognition, AI algorithms enable people with disabilities to navigate content.
As technology advances, businesses should consider keeping up with the latest trends to ensure their site is up-to-date and fully accessible.
Improve Your Site With Accessibility
Your business must ensure your site is ADA-compliant and follows the guidelines of the WCAG. Many services are available today that will assist you in making your site accessible.
When you provide options, you are playing your part in making the internet a better and more welcoming place for all users. Make your website accessible for everyone today.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the director at a marketing agency before becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.