In the quarter-century since The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, its original intent (banning employment discrimination against the disabled and ensuring equal access to commercial and government buildings) has greatly expanded, and rightfully so. Today’s world is far different from the world of 1990, particularly the internet’s role in modern life. Whether the web is used for socializing with others, purchasing goods, accessing banking or securing medical care, the Internet is an absolutely essential tool.
But for millions of disabled people, the vast majority of the Internet’s websites are currently inaccessible. If you think this is of little concern to your organization (especially if it’s a healthcare provider), think again. That’s because while the ADA’s current web compliance regulations haven’t been completely ironed out, the ultimate goal of the act is crystal clear: proving the same level of accessibility to the disabled online that they’re now legally guaranteed offline.
To help your organization meet the needs of all online visitors, not to mention avoid potential lawsuits, here are 8 things you can do right now to make your website more ADA-compliant.
1.Find An Agency With ADA Compliance Experience
If you are looking to make changes to your site to ensure that the experience for those with disabilities is similar to the experience of those without disabilities, it is recommended to work with a digital agency that can perform a website audit and has experience making recommendations for ADA compliance. Ask any agencies that you are vetting to share the work they have done to help other brands become more ADA compliant. If the agency asks, “what is ADA?” you may want to keep looking. Oh, and by the way, Rhythm has worked with many brands to ensure websites provide a better experience for those with disabilities.
2. Review the latest web accessibility standards.
Currently there are three main web accessibility standards:
W3C WCAG 2.0
While each has its own pros and cons, they all provide some helpful guidance. To save you some time, the Section 508 checklist (http://webaim.org/standards/wcag/checklist) is a really good starting point for a proper list. On the other hand, the WCAG 2.0 checklist (http://webaim.org/standards/wcag/checklist) arranges by concept and digs much deeper.
3. Use large and legible text.
Your website text should be large enough to be legible (and stay that way at all responsive resolutions). Text regions should never be more than 80 characters wide. Also, make sure your chosen font colors have enough contrast from the background.
4. Provide text explanations for complex graphics.
Complex graphics should have a text explanation either with them or on a linked page nearby. Any infographic or graph should also have the information in text only form. Maps showing a location and/or directions should also have the plain text of the address and/or directions. All tables should have a clear title, summary and header cells.
5. Provide audio and video transcripts.
Every audio and video file should have a transcript of any speech (either as embedded captions, on the page with the file, or linked to near the file).
6. Provide viewer links.
If your site visitors need a player or viewer to access a file (e.g. a Word doc), there should be a link on the page to where they can download the player or viewer.
7. Enable controllable content.
Carousels, slideshows and animations should be able to be paused for users who need more time to read their content.
8. Enable keyboard navigation.
Site visitors should be able to fully navigate each web page via tab, shift tab and enter. There should also be links to skip repetitive sections like the header and menus. Audio and video players must be able to be navigated purely via the keyboard. Carousels and slideshows must also be able to be controlled purely via the keyboard.
Web Accessibility & The Target On Your Back
Web Accessibility Checklist
5 Steps to Ensure Your Website is ADA Compliant
A Gold Standard in Accessibility