The Quick and Actionable Guide to Web Accessibility and ADA Compliance

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What if you knew that a glitch was causing 20% of the pages on your website to fail?

You would rush to fix the glitch to not miss out on the next sale or connection.

If you aren't accommodating viewers with disabilities, this is what's happening. Over a fifth of the population faces disabilities that prevent them from fully experiencing the web. 

Too often, web accessibility takes a backseat to design visually appealing websites. Luckily, there's a way to accommodate both. In this tutorial, you'll learn more about web accessibility and the easiest way to add it to your website.

What is Web Accessibility, and Why is it Important?

When it comes to web accessibility, the idea is simple: make your site work for people with disabilities that might otherwise be left out.

You shouldn't assume that your audience can see, hear, and navigate your website as-is. Again, a large portion of the population deals with a disability that causes them to miss out on content online.

Luckily, modern web technology provides options for workarounds to make your website accessible. Here are key examples of accessibility targets you should set for your website:

  • If you're producing audio and video content, subtitles and captions are a great way to include the audience. For any video or spoken-word content (think podcasts and audiobooks), it's essential to create a written version as well.
  • Over 285 million people are visually impaired. That ranges from blurred vision to complete blindness. A range of features, like setting alt text and captions, can help a disabled visitor still experience this content through "screen readers" that provide an audio version of the content.
  • With over 300 million color blind people worldwide, color blindness is a crucial challenge to accessibility. Lack of color perception might cause content to blend into an unreadable mess, so use color scheme adjustments to accommodate.
  • Not every visitor can command the mouse and keyboard. The software can help your viewer navigate trickier site elements like menus and forms when you code your site correctly.

Accessibility is all about crafting and adapting your content to the audience so that they can make the most of your website.

What Is the ADA (and What Does It Mean for You as a Website Owner?)

Accessibility isn't just the right thing to do - it's also the law.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was a sweeping law passed in 1990 that created widespread protections and accommodations. At the time the law passed, it was hard to imagine how important the web would be. Many people rely on websites and apps to do work, make purchases, and so much more.

Because the ADA is a law, non-compliance with the law opens the door for legal action against your company. Companies face more lawsuits than ever due to a lack of ADA compliance. Over 2,200 cases were filed in 2018 alone against sites that didn't comply with the act.

In 2020 and beyond, it's safe to say that access to the Internet is a vital part of day-to-day life. That means that more companies than ever need to adapt their website to include accessible principles so that no viewer is left out.

There are two critical reasons for increasing accessibility on your website:

  • Accommodating as many people as possible, helping you to grow your site and include more potential viewers.
  • Compliance with the ADA enables you to avoid costly and complex legal issues that could occur.

So, what does it mean to be ADA compliant? It helps to know a bit more about the various terms you'll see when exploring accessibility for your website:

ADA

As we've already discussed, the Americans With Disabilities Act is a wide-sweeping set of protections for disabilities in Americans. Businesses, state, and local government entities all must comply with. Generally, it prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities. The ADA does not specifically set website guidelines. 

WCAG

So, if the ADA doesn't set the guidelines for what is accessible, then how do you know if your site is compliant? The answer is WCAG, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Published by the W3C, it's a reference document that includes the technical information that web developers use.

The WCAG is an in-depth, comprehensive guide. It's extremely complex and takes a specialist to understand and apply to your website fully. The WCAG tends to serve as a measuring stick to test your website's compliance with the ADA.

How do you make your website compliant for those with disabilities? Read on to see a solution that doesn't require a complete bottoms-up redesign.

How To Achieve ADA Compliance (Without Redesigning Your Website)

You know now that web accessibility is crucial. The question is: how do you make your website accessible to those that face disabilities?

Many companies offer accessibility audits and coding to bring your site into compliance. However, those audits take time and can be very expensive. Plus, they only cover your existing content. As you build out new pages and content, you'll need to check that you continue to comply.

This is where web accessibility solutions service like accessiBe and AudioEye and Userway comes in. Instead of reviewing page after page and coding alternate functionality, this one-line-of-code solution automatically does the work for you. Skip learning WCAG from top-to-bottom and add the code to your website to bring your site into compliance.

Here are a few ways an accessibility solution instantly improves your site's accessibility compliance:

  • These tools automatically add keyboard navigation options to jump around the site with no mouse needed easily. It even works with deep menu structures and forms.
  • Populates missing attributes like alt text so that visually impaired viewers can experience visual content.
  • A custom "Accessibility Adjustments" menu for each visitor to tailor their site experience to their specific needs.

Not All Automated Solutions Are Equal

Web accessibility solutions provide different levels of compliance.

Sheri Byrne Haber, an accessibility consultant wrote about AudioEye being implicated in ADP inaccessibility lawsuit. The website mentioned AudioEye in their accessibility statement and the plaintiff claimed links don’t work, screen reader don’t submit responses and other problems.

Another accessibility plugin called Userway falls short of delivering full compliance.

The plugin isn’t capable of stopping animation for people with epilepsy, don’t organize site structure because it does not utilize artificial intelligence and does not truly support keyboard only navigation.

A more robust solution is an AI-powered solution like accessiBe that consistently utilizes AI to scan and remediate the entire website. accessiBe’s OCR technology can generate alt titles and alt tags in image and build the website hierarchy and website structure via it’s proprietary AI-powered engine.

Rewriting, coding, and redesigning your website is simply too costly and takes too much time for most people. Adding new content shouldn’t be a cause for concern to worry about whether it’s compatible or not.

Best of all, you won't risk being out of compliance and opening the door to legal actions while you take time to review and modify your site.

Compliance: It's the Right Thing to Do (and Easier than You Thought)

Most website owners fall into one of two groups:

  • They haven't considered that it's important to make a website accessible so that everyone can enjoy the content.
  • They want to make their site compliant with the ADA, but don't know how.

With the help of automated platforms, it's much easier to bridge the gap to compliance. One simple line of easy-to-add Javascript will ensure that your site is accessible to all visitors. That protects your organization, plus can help you accommodate more of your audience than ever.

As you saw in this article, compliance is a must.

If you don't adapt your website to include accessible content, you risk losing your audience and opening the door to litigation.