A Mobile-Optimized Website Simply Isn’t Enough to Meet Standards of Accessibility
Since its introduction in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has outlined requirements that businesses must follow to make their establishments or services accessible to anyone, regardless of their mental or physical challenges. And yes, this law indirectly states that business websites are required to be accessible.
If yours isn’t, you could face a lawsuit. In fact, lawyers whose sole purpose is to identify non-compliant websites and file suits are known to troll the Internet every day to identify sites in violation of the ADA. As a business owner, it is incredibly important that you know about ADA compliant websites, not only financially, but also because it’s the right thing to do.
We previously delivered a birds-eye view of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, but now it’s time to dive a little deeper with the four tenets of ADA compliant website design. You can determine whether yours is, or if it puts you at risk.
ADA Compliant Website Tenets
To meet ADA requirements, your website should fulfill these four important tenets, which illustrate overarching principles of WCAG 2.1. (At the time of writing WCAG 2.2 is in draft form and is slated for release later this year.)
Tenet One: Perceivable
This tenet states that the information and interface of your ADA compliant website are presentable in ways users can perceive using at least one of their senses (for websites, that’s often vision and/or hearing). The goal is to make it easier for users to hear and see the content of your website. Ideally, your content should be presented in different ways without compromising meaning.
Best practices for this tenet include providing alt-text for images and other non-text content, as well as adding captions for videos or audio components. Including these features allows users who rely on text reader software or other aids to explore your website and learn more about your business.
Tenet Two: Operable
Your website’s user interface (UI) components, including the navigation, must be operable for all users. Your interface should never require an interaction that any user could not perform – and all functionality must be available from a keyboard.
A website also is considered operable when users have enough time to read and use content and when user experience (UX) aids in easy, natural navigation. Under the “operable” umbrella is a very important aspect of ADA website design: your content should not cause seizures.
Thoughtful design generally fulfills the operable tenet; it takes a professional eye to create one.
Tenet Three: Understandable
Website users should not only understand the information on your website, but they also should understand how to operate it. It’s tempting to design a website that’s unique and unusual, but this can sometimes affect accessibility.
Content appearing in predictable ways is one way to ensure your website is understandable. Responsive mobile-optimized websites fall into the category of “understandable” for this reason.
This ADA website design tenet also includes ensuring text is readable – with considerations for color scheme and font size. Not only should your content be visually legible, but it also should make sense. Carefully crafted sentences and thorough proofreading make all the difference in this category.
Tenet Four: Robust
Robust content can be interpreted easily and reliably with a range of assistive technologies. As accessibility aid technologies advance, your website should remain as accessible as ever.
Regular website maintenance and updating will help you ensure your site is compatible with user tools, even as they evolve.
ADA Compliant Website Design, Tailored to Your Business
All of this is quite overwhelming, right? It’s easy to see how it would be equally overwhelming to attempt to use a website that doesn’t consider your abilities – especially if you’re part of the business’s target audience!
Level the playing field with ADA website design, which considers WCAG standards and best practices before, during, and after production. With a team of skilled web developers, designers, and professional copywriters armed with a long checklist of WCAG 2.1 AA standards, iFocus Marketing is poised to help you make your business website as accessible as possible. We also recommend a search engine optimization and website maintenance monthly package so we can keep your site up-to-date as standards adapt and change.
Let us walk you through your options during a discovery call, during which our experts will tell you about our website design packages before performing a website audit so you can better understand the status of your existing site. We can’t wait to hear from you soon!
Jenifer Calandra is an award-winning digital copywriter and copy team lead at iFocus Marketing with 12 years of marketing experience. She curates copy from conception to completion, capturing client voices, and building their authority in their industry. Her knack for storytelling is deeply rooted in journalism, and you’ll find her work published in various regional newspapers and magazines. At home, dogs and a never-ending cascade of home-improvement projects rule her life.