Meeting ADA website compliance requires a thorough understanding of current guidelines along with a dedication to accessibility. Use this checklist to ensure you’re meeting modern standards and developing an accessible website for all users.
What is ADA Compliance?
The Standards for Accessible Design issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates requirements that websites must meet to maintain ADA compliance. These guidelines are set for all websites, and businesses are legally accountable for maintaining compliance. There are additional guidelines like the WCAG 2.0, which provide more in-depth information on exact compliance standards.
The function of ADA compliance is to promote and enforce equal website access for people with disabilities. This includes maintaining certain standards for audio content, non-text content, and visual content. The act of adhering to accessibility requirements promotes equity and public accommodation.
WCAG 2.0 Guidelines: Levels of Compliance
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 Guidelines) provides recommendations for making websites more accessible. These guidelines are the authority on international accessibility standards. Meeting the WCAG 2.0 minimum level of accessibility is required to reach ADA compliance.
There are three conformance levels; the minimum, A, the mid-tier, AA, and the highest, AAA.
This is the most basic or lowest level of website accessibility. So, reaching level A compliance is absolutely necessary when conducting a compliance checklist.
This level is a good accessibility standard considered the mid-tier and goes further than level A toward making web content accessible for many users.
This is the highest possible conformance level in WCAG 2.0, and this level of conformance is not always realistic for workable sites. Nevertheless, Level AAA can occasionally be met, and it is a solid goal.
The Importance of ADA Compliance
Proper ADA compliance allows all individuals equal access to your website and services. It lowers the inequitable barriers that exist across the internet. Good compliance also helps your business avoid litigation and the revenue loss that comes with blocking user access. Every year thousands of suits are filed against companies accused of violating ADA standards. Proper compliance helps businesses maintain an equitable website and avoid costly legal fees.
Complete ADA Compliance Website Checklist
These items are a great place to start for your ADA compliant website checklist. A thorough review of your current compliance standards requires addressing all of these factors at minimum.
1. Skip Navigation Links
For users navigating by keyboard users and screen reader users, links across the top or down the sides of web pages are distracting or frustrating without a skip option. A non-disabled person can visually skip over these links while a web reader device cannot. Implement skip navigation links to allow web readers to ‘skip’ these links.
2. Choose Contrasting Color
Users with visual disabilities may struggle to differentiate between colors on a web page. Verify that all colors used meet the color contrast ratio required by the WCAG 2.0.
3. Include Alternative (alt) Text
All images need to have alternative tags so that a web reader can describe the image for visually impaired users. Double-check that all images are described accurately.
4. Utilize Proper Heading Structuring
Headings provide vital structure to a website, both visually and technically. Any good ADA compliance website checklist should mention headings. Label all headings with proper h1, h2, and h3 formatting to be accessible for users with disabilities including blind users.
5. Make PDF Files Accessible
PDFs can be a hotspot for ADA violations. Typically, a PDF gives a plethora of vital information to users. Ensure all PDFs are organized with alt text, proper headings, and titles.
6. Avoid Empty Links
Broken or empty links provide no context to a web reader or keyboard nav tool for what the link is referencing. It’s functionally a blank spot on the site. Fixing these empty and broken links allows a web reader and keyboard nav to understand what the link is referencing.
7. Label All Forms
Labeling all form controls includes drop-down menus, radio buttons, checkboxes, and text fields. In most cases, the labels just need to describe the purpose of the form to help users operate the forms.
8. Keyboard Navigation Friendly
Full keyboard compatibility means a keyboard can operate all forms, links, buttons, and other controls. Websites should not require a mouse, as this prohibits many users from operating your site and may create a keyboard trap. Additionally, the site should have suggestions in place for correcting input errors.
9. Choose Optimal Fonts
For visually impaired users, fonts must be simple, unembellished, and of a certain size. Your site should also allow disabled users to increase and decrease all font sizes easily.
10. Understand All Legal Rulings and Documentation
Ultimately, if the person(s) running your compliance check is not intimately familiar with ADA compliance regulations, then you will miss violations. While some high level AAA violations may not result in non-compliance litigation – some violations will lead to litigation.
Partner With The ADA Compliance Experts
There are many steps to achieving full digital accessibility, and the process can be overwhelming. Businesses want to avoid limiting user access whenever possible, but the intricacies involved and technical know-how required to reach compliance may be out of reach. ADA website compliance experts like the ones at Elevato can guide your site to a compliance space.
Our specialists have years of ADA compliance experience. They scan every website page twice to ensure all violations are either fixed or noted. After working with the ADA compliance specialists at Elevato, you’ll receive documentation proving the compliance efforts you’ve made. Their expert knowledge can mean the difference between a truly compliant website and one that inequitably limits user access.
Schedule a consultation today to discuss improving your site’s ADA compliance.