Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance
ADA compliance for your website is becoming a higher priority each year as more and more people rely on the internet as their main channel for finding goods and services to purchase. You can find almost anything online now. With the ever-expanding nature of the web, one of the biggest issues for webmasters is making sure that their websites are ADA compliant and adopt web accessibility standards that make them handicap friendly & easy to use for all.
What is ADA Compliance?
In 1990, the government passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which “prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services…” While the original document does not contain information related to websites, it is important that any online business or service be accessible for those that have vision/hearing disabilities.
In recent years, businesses like Foot Locker, GNC, and Winn-Dixie have been taken to court due to their websites not being ADA compliant. In the case of GNC, the defendant “could not add items to his online shopping cart, access the store locator, or read the deals and promotions. Because the website’s content was not labeled properly, Gomez’s screen reader did not work correctly.” The court decision was that “Purchasing a product online is a service that, in part, forms the nexus between the Website and GNC’s physical stores. The record shows that accessibility issues prevent [the defendant] from purchasing products. Because the inaccessibility of the Website prevents [the defendant] from fully enjoying a service of the physical store, GNC is discriminating against [the defendant] and violating the ADA.”
To make things even more complicated, there are no official ADA guidelines for website accessibility. However, there is growing support for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 which classifies 3 levels of accessibility (A-AAA) and focuses on four main ideas.
WCAG Four Main Areas
Perceivability – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. Text alternatives for non-text content like images. Videos should contain captions. Text on the screen should be properly contrasted from background elements.
Operability – User interface components and navigation must be operable. All website functionality should be available by using a keyboard. Users should have enough time to read and use site content. Content should not cause seizures. There should be elements that help users navigate the page.
Understandability – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable. Websites should be readable and understandable by screen readers. Web pages should appear and be operable in predictable ways. Websites should use input assistance to help users avoid and correct mistakes.
Robustness – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. Site content should be compatible with current and future assistive technologies.
Levels of Accessibility for ADA Compliance
There are three levels of compliance with the WCAG 2.0 standard.
Level A – The lowest standard. The quickest and easiest way to be compliant.
Level AA – A more comprehensive compliance and has been seen as the most appropriate standard for websites.
Level AAA – The strictest compliance standard.
If you are seeking to make your current or future website ADA compliant, it is important that you seek experts that understand the different levels and guidelines of the WCAG, as well as understand how current website design can help or hinder accessibility to users with blindness, low vision, color blindness, or hearing difficulties.
ADA Compliance Checklist
To this end, we are able to ensure that a website:
- Provides text alternatives for all non-text content.
- Provides synchronized alternatives for multimedia.
- Ensures that information and structure can be separated from presentation.
- Makes it easy to distinguish foreground information from its background.
- Makes all functionality operable via a keyboard interface.
- Allows users to control time limits on their reading or interaction.
- Allows users to avoid content that could cause seizures due to photosensitivity.
- Provides mechanisms to help users find content, orient themselves within it, and navigate through it.
- Helps users avoid mistakes and make it easy to correct mistakes that do occur.
- Makes text content readable and understandable.
- Makes the placement and functionality of content predictable.
- Supports compatibility with current and future user agents. (including assistive technologies)
- Ensures that content is accessible or provides an accessible alternative.
Need Help with ADA Compliance? Give Us A Call
At CaliNetworks, we have experience working with all sizes of business (from small service sites with 100-200 users to multi-billion dollar e-commerce giants) in various industries address accessibility issues and become WCAG 2.0 compliant. If you are a business owner that is looking to improve the accessibility of your current website or want to ensure that your new website is up to the WCAG standard, please contact us today for a consultation. (805) 409-7700