Ensure your website is accessible for all.
The internet is central to our daily lives, but for people with disabilities, the internet can be challenging to navigate. Your website needs to be accessible to people with disabilities. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it’s the law. Having a website that’s not accessible can open you to lawsuits that have cost businesses and organizations thousands of dollars.
People with disabilities, especially those who are blind or visually impaired, have been filing lawsuits against businesses over website accessibility issues. Many of them have been winning.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), every business or government-funded website has to be accessible to people with disabilities. The Law prohibits discrimination based on disability by places of “public accommodation.” This includes websites owned by public entities as well as physical locations.
How Does This Apply to Websites?
When most people think of “accessibility” in terms of websites, they usually think of accessibility for the blind. But a truly accessible internet also includes assistance for people who are hearing impaired, have motor impairments, have difficulty with cognitive processes, or are overstimulated by motion, graphics, and lighting.
Screen reading tools, for example, rely on specific cues in the code on a page to help determine which information is most important. People with motor impairments may have difficulty interacting with a website where buttons and other clickable items aren’t large enough to be easily clicked. And when it comes to cognitive issues, consistency in text display becomes even more important. These are just a few examples of how the WCAG promotes a more accessible internet for all.
What Is Web Accessibility?
Generally speaking, the goal for ADA compliance is to ensure that people with disabilities can access the content of a website and interact with a website in its entirety, without limitation. Guidance in implementation is provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the form of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG).
The WCAG provide guidance for the following types of assistance:
Is the website perceivable to people with disabilities?
This is probably the most common guidance provided and includes text alternatives. These can be alternatives such as braille, captions for video and audio content, and audible CAPTCHA interfaces.
Can the website be operated or interacted with?
This includes offering multiple methods for site visitors to interface with content. This can be keyboard-only functionality, adjustable timing, and avoidance of visual stimuli that could be misunderstood or provoke physical reactions.
Is the website’s content understandable?
This includes text modification for improved readability, dynamic translations into other languages, consistency in navigation, user error assistance, and enhanced content labeling.
Is the website robust and built for ease of interactivity?
This includes compatibility with a wide variety of assistive technologies.
Overall conformance level
This measures the level at which a given web page adheres to the guidance above.
Is ADA Website Compliance Mandatory for my Website?
There are occasional exceptions, but ADA compliance is required for the majority of sites that people are accustomed to visiting on a regular basis. Based on the way courts have interpreted the ADA so far, ADA compliance is clearly mandatory for websites in two categories:
- Websites for, or funded by, state or local governments
- Websites for businesses
While most ADA website lawsuits are filed against businesses (which are considered “places of public accommodation” under the law), lawsuits against government sites work the same way.
Cases against government websites (or those funded by the government, such as sites for libraries, schools, parks, etc.) are Title II claims. Title II refers to the section of the ADA that covers services, programs, and activities provided by state and local government entities.
Lawsuits against business websites (including privately owned businesses) are Title III claims.
Title III refers to the section of the ADA that covers places of public accommodation and commercial facilities.
How Do You Make a Website ADA Compliant?
The Department of Justice has said that “noncompliance with [WCAG 2.0 AA] for website accessibility does not necessarily indicate noncompliance with the ADA.” However, the best way to reach the benchmark for compliance is to conform to WCAG 2.0 level AA standards.
WCAG 2.0 AA provides a detailed road map for ensuring complete accessibility on your site. If you lose a lawsuit, it will be the standard you are compelled to follow in an ADA settlement or consent decree.
We are able to help you meet ADA compliance standards through a simple three-step process.
First, we will scan your site using AI-powered testing. This will provide real insights into the challenges faced by visitors to your site.
Second, if you choose to move forward, we will install a simple line of code or a plugin on your site to remove barriers to accessibility. This is done through a combination of automatic fixes and manual repairs.
Third, we will continuously monitor your entire site to identify new concerns with regard to accessibility. We will make instant updates that offer your site’s visitors a smooth, consistently accessible experience.
How Can I Find Out if I Have an ADA-compliant Website?
If you want to take the first step in making sure your site meets the ADA standard for accessibility design, just ask us! We will run a full check of your site at no charge and let you know specifically which accessibility standards need to be addressed. Just head to our Contact page, put your URL in the message box, and we’ll get our complete report sent to you. Our check won’t catch everything, but it will give you a good idea of where you stand.
At ThirdSide, we put your visitors’ needs into every website we build. We offer complimentary guidance on some simple changes you can make to improve your website. And we are pleased to be able to offer an all-in-one solution that addresses a multitude of enhancements designed to make your website a more welcoming place for all.