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ADA Compliance Website Requirements And Standards For 2022

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In 2022, successful ADA compliance is more vital for business health than ever. It’s also more complex and technical than in years past. This guide provides information on modern requirements to help businesses avoid non-compliance and promote a user-friendly online space. 

The Importance of ADA Compliance

ADA compliance is a legal set of standards that all sites, from government websites to mobile apps, must fulfill. Violations can result in accessibility lawsuits and limiting users with disabilities. There are many ways to violate ADA standards, so it’s important to either do your own extensive research or hire an accessibility expert for assistance. 

What is ADA Compliance? 

ADA compliance stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. Functionally, ADA compliance is an aspect of a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on disability. It determines standard practices for many elements of good website design and mandates digital accessibility. 

Promoting Equity 

More than just a set of governmental regulations – ADA accessibility compliance enforces wide creation of user-friendly websites. All individuals should have equitable access to websites, content, and services. ADA compliance mandates this and, through other accepted regulations, provides exact instructions on achieving compliance. 

However, this process can be quite complex. This guide provides insight into the exact requirements for websites and how to achieve compliance.

ADA Compliance Website Requirements

The ADA regulations point to a set of guidelines called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) for specific instructions on compliance. There is also WCAG 2.1 which was released in 2018 and is a good source of information. 

There are three levels of conformance in the WCAG – Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Most websites seeking compliance follow the WCAG Level A guidelines, which is the minimum level of accessibility, though still often highly technical. Ideally, a website will also attempt to meet the AA conformance level, which is the next level of accessibility – considered the mid-level. Level AAA is the highest level of accessibility and is worth considering but can be difficult or non-feasible to achieve. 

Generally, WCAG seeks to make websites meet the following requirements and accessibility features. 

Perceivable 

All content on the website must be presented in an easily perceivable manner for all users. This means it must be easy for individuals with disabilities to find and process the information on the site. 

Technical Requirements Include 

  • All media files and maps should have an “alt” tag
  • All video content should have audio alternatives 

Operable 

All site functions and navigations should be operable by all users, including keyboard-only commands.

Technical Requirements Include 

  • Skip navigation links throughout site

Understandable 

All content must be easy to understand and comprehend for all users. 

Technical Requirements Include 

  • Accessible fonts throughout site
  • Descriptive anchor text with all links 

Robust 

Your website should function well with a large variety of assistive technologies for disabled users. 

Technical Requirements Include 

  • Screen reader compatibility 
  • Built for future adaptability 

Find the most up-to-date requirements on the WCAG website. Understanding and implementing these technical standards may require advanced skills. 

Best Practices for Auditing a Site for Compliance

A compliance audit can be overwhelming. There are so many ways a website can violate the ADA compliance standards. However, these best practices can help get a site on the right track and limit the barriers to accessibility. 

  1. Establish an Accessibility Policy 

Create a site-wide accessibility statement that will guide all future page creation and give a statement of pro-activity. This will help keep your site compliant in the future and will showcase your dedication to compliance. Evidence of enacting compliant actions serves to dissuade litigators in the future. 

  1. Utilize WAVE Regularly 

WAVE stands for the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool, and it’s an online accessibility tool for assessing website accessibility. The experts at Elevato use this tool throughout the audit and compliance fix process. If you have a team of developers that are familiar with accessibility, have them use WAVE periodically. Attempt to have very little or a low amount of violations. 

  1. Run Regular Re-Audits

Accessibility standards are often changing, and sites are constantly evolving. Make regular accessibility audits a part of your website maintenance. We recommend running an audit every few months and after every major website update.  

  1. Launch User Tests 

It’s best to have users of all backgrounds test your site for accessibility. For example, sometimes, disabled persons with a screen reader may notice something that slipped past your previous checks. Effective communication requires maintaining content accessible for all users –  periodic tests can help with these accessibility requirements. 

Design Elements To Avoid

Many design elements are perfectly compatible with ADA standards. However, there are some designs to avoid as they limit user accessibility and create more accessibility issues. 

  • Lack of Color Contrast: Many users have color differentiation differences. You want to ensure that every color used on your site is contrasting enough to make the text easily legible for every user. 
  • Non-Described Design: If you have a design-heavy website with fun features and inventive design – you must be mindful that some people with disabilities cannot take in these visual effects. Make sure your site describes these designs for screen readers in a clear, concise manner. 
  • Hidden Focus States: Often, hidden focus states can be visually appealing, but they make it very difficult for many users to navigate your site. 

Achieve ADA Compliance with Elevato 

Meeting ADA compliance is both a legal requirement and a moral requirement. Most business owners want their websites to be as accessible as possible – inviting all users to learn about their services. The experts at Elevato have the technical know-how and years of experience to make this happen. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.