Have you ever experienced a complaint from someone who is visually impaired regarding the accessibility of your website? Chances are, you probably haven’t. But should your website be ADA compliant? What does that mean and what does it take? Let’s dive a little deeper:
How do the visually impaired “read” a website?
- They use screen readers – devices that can read the content of a website.
- Navigation is done using the keyboards. One reason to keep your navigation simple.
- They scan websites just like those with sight – their readers read the headlines.
- Technology can’t decipher a picture to tell someone what a picture looks like – so websites depend on the ALT tags – where you write what the picture is about and the screen reader can then read that to the user.
What makes a website compliant? There is a widely agreed-upon standard that’s useful for ensuring consistency created by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), an international standard developed by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). According to their guidelines, there’s an A-Tier compliance, AA Tier Compliance and AAA Tier Compliance. Small businesses that are required to have ADA compliant websites need to have at least an AA Tier Compliant website. In other words:
- A: The minimum requirement for accessibility
- AA: A medium or good level of accessibility
- AAA: The gold standard of accessibility
What does that look like?
Without reading pages and pages of documentation, the folks over at Elementor summarize the guidelines into 4 main principles:
The 4 Main Web Accessibility Principles
- Your Content Should Be Perceivable – that is, there needs to be alternative ways of viewing your website than just relying on site. Making sure your site is designed with accessibility in mind allows other technologies such as readers to read your website.
- Your User Interface Should Be Operable – whether it’s with a mouse or a keyboard, there needs to be options.
- Make Your Content Understandable – through adequate font sizes, sufficient contrast for better visibility, using different shapes in addition to different colors for those that can’t see colors, etc.
- Your Website Should Be Robust – it should be accessible with a variety of different browsers using different versions and it should be built using the latest technology.
Does your small business need to have an ADA compliant website? Here’s the guiding principle:
“Any business that has more than 15 full-time employees and is open for more than 20 weeks out of the year is required to follow Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act by being easily accessible to the general public.” [Source]sagapixel.com
What can you do?
- Install a plugin that will allow for ADA accessibility to your site. The One Click Accessibility website plugin adds a small icon in the upper corner of your website. Clicking on the icon allows the user to choose a number of different options to help make your site more accessible from larger fonts and higher contrast to underlining links and making the site grayscale. It’s a free plugin. If you’d like me to install it for you, it takes minimal time and set-up. Just let me know. If you’d like to see it in action, check out my website: https://touchpointwebdesigns.com/
- Run a test: Use the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. This free tool allows you to enter your website and receive a free report of where you can improve your website to be more accessible and ADA compliant.
I’ll be honest – this is something that is new to me. I haven’t focused on making my websites WCAG compliant in the past but it’s something that I will work towards in the future. If you have questions about whether or not your site is compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or any questions in general, be sure to reach out to me and I’d be more than willing to help you out.