Most businesses won’t give ADA compliance a second look until it hits them in the face with a lawsuit. Truth is, ADA is something many will glance over, skip past and hope for the best with, but this could have huge consequences for your business. ADA should be part of the overall digital strategy for any business out there.
ADA compliance could cost you a hefty fine of up to $75,000 alone for your first offence, something you’re definitely better off without.
In this article we’ll give you everything you need to know about ADA, from what it is to what it means for you and your business and how to handle it.
What is ADA compliance?
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulates businesses to make sure all websites are accessible for people with disabilities.
The act is designed to stop any sort of discrimination against disabled citizens by ensuring facilities, services, goods and privileges offered by sites are available to all.
Most importantly to you, these rules and regulations now apply to all web content as of 2018, no matter how big or small.
If this isn’t enough for you to look over ADA twice, here’s three reasons why it should matter to you.
1) Checking your site now will prevent problems long-term
Making sure your website is ADA compliant now will not only set your website off to a good start and stop you worrying about issues down the road, it will also stop you having to make a last minute dash.
If your website gets pulled up for not being accessible for all, courts will make an order for you to fix your site within a certain timescale. This rush will not only be costly of your wallet, but also of your time and reputation.
Avoid bigger issues later by making sure your site can be seen and heard by all now.
2) A bad ADA reputation may lose you customers
Over 25 million people in the USA live with a visual impairment and over 30 million struggle with their hearing.These 55 million people total to 17% of the population of the USA, which could be a very large amount of your custom, especially if you run a health related site.
If those struggling with a disability cannot access your site, they won’t try again or get someone else to help, they will move on to a website they can get onto.
It’s up to you to acknowledge not only the custom and profits lost by this, but the custom and profits that will go directly to your competitors.
3) It’s simply a good thing to do
With so many people living in the USA with an impairment, the likelihood is that you know someone with one and wouldn’t like to hear that they struggle to do the little things you find so easy, such as accessing a website. Starting by fixing your own site is a great way to show willing and kindness (which will maybe even give your 2019 resolutions a small boost!)
What sort of things should you look out for when making sure your site is ADA compliant? Here’s the top six.
1) Keyboard access
According to Digital Authority Partners, the ADA acts requires websites to ensure that users are able to access and complete everything they want to with just a keyboard, not a mouse. Many who have poor mobility or muscle control will often use modified keyboards instead of a mouse to navigate websites, which means everything on your website should be accessible with such.
According to the ADA, a website must allow a keyboard to click on a link or button, select items from a drop down menu, close a dialogue box, navigate a page, move a slider and scroll through the site.
This can end up being complex and will need checking over regularly alongside any new updates or interactive elements added to the site.
2) Make your forms accessible
Website forms need to be able to be easily read and completed by all users visiting a site. All forms should also have error messages which can be easily navigated by a person with a disability.
Websites should have clear labels of all information that is required to be filled in to ensure screen readers can work alongside your site well to ensure the user enters all the correct data and avoids issues down the line.
3) Screen readers need to know what language you’re speaking
Unless website code tells a screen reader what language the website is in, the screen reader won’t know. The HTML can explicitly tell screen readers through the “Lang” attribute so the reader can accurately orally present and translate information to the user.
4) Alt text is needed on all graphics
Alt (alternative) text should be used on all graphics on a website to explain what an image is showing to a screen reader, similar to an ‘image description’ you may see on an Instagram post. A reader relies solely on this information, so you should make sure all your images include an alt description through your website content management system or directly through html code.
5) HTML code is the base of all sites – use it well
A website’s HTML code needs to fit uniform coding standards to ensure it is ADA compliant. Using headings and subheadings is a good way to start to break down your page and make it easier for a user with an impairment. It is important to use correct heading nesting from H1 to H6 to make your site structure easy for a screen reader to understand.
6) Make use of descriptive links
To clearly tell a screen reader exactly what is expected on the next page when clicking a link, it is important to use descriptive links well. For example, when running a health site is it important to say ‘Read the benefits of getting in 10,000 steps a day here’ instead of just ‘read here’. This will add a level of trust to your site and prove you are going the extra mile to make sure everyone can navigate your site.
This article comes from JGBilling, a Chicago-based, medical coding outsourcing company.