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Factors to Consider for an ADA Website Compliance Audit

ADA website compliance has been a talking point in the web industry for a few years and it’s now moved into the mainstream. In case you’ve missed it, companies of all sizes have been served demand letters and oftentimes sued for their websites not being accessible. Examples of ADA lawsuits include Beyonce, Winn-Dixie, and Dominoes Pizza.

What is ADA Website Compliance?

What is ADA Website Compliance?

The best first place to start is to define what ADA website compliance is.

ADA compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act published by the Department of Justice in 1990. It requires that all public spaces remove barriers which may prevent an individual with a disability from accessing them.

This used to apply to public buildings and spaces. For example, you’re probably familiar with things like handicapped stalls and parking. This is due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

As we become a society that relies more and more on technology, the ADA now covers software and technology – and this can include your website.

Website compliance ensures that website owners and businesses make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.

Disabilities can range on a wide spectrum and nearly 1 in 4 American adults has a disability of some form. These include temporary and permanent disabilities.

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) defined a series of guidelines to help website developers make accessible website. These are the web content accessibility guidelines, or WCAG.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The web content accessibility guidelines were put in place by accessibility experts and web experts to provide a foundation for how to make a website accessible. These guidelines fall into 4 main categories.

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

These guidelines help those using assistive technology access all content on a website. The W3C makes changes and updates to these guidelines every so often. For example, there are 2 sets of guidelines out now:

  • WCAG 2.0
  • WCAG 2.1 (released summer of 2018)

These guidelines are technical, and it will take a web developer to fully understand them and implement them to meet WCAG compliance.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Common Accessibility Issues

One of the most common comments we receive in regards to digital accessibility is that “someone with a disability won’t buy my product/service.” Our response to that is usually something along the lines of “how do you know?”

Here, we often challenge ourselves and our clients to think about what a disability looks like to them. The most common is someone who is blind, someone who is deaf, or someone who can’t walk. However, as mentioned above, there is a full spectrum of disabilities – and you could be hindering your own audience from accessing your information.

  • Color blindness – make sure that your background and foreground colors meet the WCAG color contrast requirement
  • Images – someone using a screen reader will need to know what is in an image using text. Ensure that your images have alt-tags so a screen reader can tell its user what’s on the image.
  • Video captions – if you have videos on your website, it’s critical to ensure that you have captions with your video so that someone who is hearing impaired can read the captions.

To summarize this section, a disability is not one-size-fits-all and you should make your website accessible to all, regardless of whether you think your audience is disabled or not.

Automated Vs Manual Work Tasks 2 Two Way Road

Manual Audit vs. Automated Tools

The next question you may ask is “how do I make my website compliant?” The first answer is to complete an ADA website compliance audit. Then, the next step will be to complete remediation based on that audit.

A web accessibility audit is often done using a partial scan and manual testing. There are automated tools (like plugins) that promise to make websites ADA compliant, but we often find that is just an overlay of the information and not necessarily making the website compliant overall.

Auditing and remediation costs can take thousands of dollars and it usually depends on your website’s structure, how it was built, and how old it is. In some cases, a web developer/ADA agency will recommend an entirely new website.

Atilus: Making ADA Compliant Websites

Atilus is a Florida web design and digital marketing company that also offers ADA website compliance as a service. We help companies make their websites compliant through audits, remediation, and monitoring.
Call us at (239) 362-1271 to learn more about our ADA compliance services.


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