Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) Web content has to be accessible to people with disabilities. This also applies to other electronic content, such as software, and this is specially important for businesses and commercial web pages, since they are considered liable.
How Does Accessibility Affect a Site
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines state that a site should have the following characteristics;
The website has to offer navigation through keyboard or voice command for those who cannot use a mouse. It also has to offer the option of slower navigation or extended time on time sensitive tasks for people who read slowly.
Clarity is essential in this category. Menus have to be forward and functional. User input errors should be clarified and solutions should be suggested.
Captions in all audio content for people with hearing impairments, voice recording for visually challenged users. The site has to offer alternative ways to be navigated that acknowledge different perceptions.
This means that the website has to be compatible and up to date with assistive technology. Even though the threat of a lawsuit is the main argument to level against the costs of redesigning your website to be A.D.A. compliant (and this cost is even smaller if you are on the design stage of your page), there are other benefits to taking this step.
Let us not lose track of what the American Disabilities Act is actually about. It is not a penalty for websites, it’s a way to ensure more people have access to the important information, services, and opportunities the internet provides.
What can Happen if your Website is not A.D.A. Compliant
Lawsuits have already been leveled against Commercial Websites that are not accessible. Courts have shown a strong tendency towards considering websites as “Public Spaces”, which is the main focus of the A.D.A.. This means that even if the act does not name websites as legally bound to provide accessibility to its users, the judicial system is, on a general rule, considering them to be. Penalties for not being A.D.A. Compliant, should a complaint be issued against you, can rise up to U$150,000.
It’s not all About Money
Even though the threat of a lawsuit is the main argument to level against the costs of redesigning your website to be A.D.A. compliant (and this cost is even smaller if you are on the design stage of your page), there are other benefits to taking this step.
A.D.A. compliance opens your site to new potential clients. People with disabilities are more likely to recommend a product or service that took their needs into account than one that didn’t.
An accessible site is not only beneficial for those with disabilities, it can also improve the experience for users who are recovering from an injury or have small children in the home and do not wish to perturb them with sound heavy sites. Overall, a compliant website is easier to navigate for all users.
Many A.D.A. Compliance best practices are also good SEO practices. Meta tagging, images with alt text, transcripts of your video content, all these things improve both your accessibility and your search engine ranking.
Let us not lose track of what the American Disabilities Act is actually about. It is not a penalty for websites, it’s a way to ensure more people have access to the important information, services, and opportunities the internet provides. Nowadays, when everything seems to veer off to connectability, doing our part in helping our community have access to it is important for all.
Are you ready to become A.D.A compliant? Need some help to bring your site up to date?
We can help you. Let’s have a coffee.