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The A — Z on ADA compliance
Learn the ins and outs from an experienced marketing director
I think of myself as a creative wingwoman for small businesses. My forte is creating aesthetically pleasing and engaging websites that provide a positive user experience. Most importantly, I assist in constructing a compliant web framework that plays a crucial part in site development and legal obligations. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant websites are the future of the digital world, and businesses are legally obligated to integrate features meeting national law requirements.
What is ADA compliance?
The ADA was signed into law in 1990 and prohibits discrimination based on disability in schools, jobs, transportation, and all public places.1 When it comes to the digital world, an ADA-compliant website can be browsed easily with assistive devices used by individuals with disabilities. This ensures inclusivity and is mandatory for websites funded by state or local governments and for business websites.
Vision-impaired users of a site may have difficulty reading smaller fonts or fonts in specific colors. If these colors do not properly contrast with your website background, ability to adjust font sizes and colors is a must. As for styles, sites should include relative sizes for the text and avoid inline styling. Users should be able to resize text without assistive technology up to 200% without loss of content or functionality.
Improve performance while staying compliant
Search engine optimization (SEO) and ADA compliance can work together to create a better user experience. An ADA-compliant website requires images to be properly named, creating an SEO-friendly naming convention. File names should be lowercase and separated by hyphens.
Using properly named images can help your content be found in relevant searches and achieve a higher ranking because search engines will look for proper alternative text to determine your rank. Users who explore the web by utilizing a screen reader often navigate link to link. Anchor text should be accurate to the page it directs to, so that your pages are indexed properly, such as with Google Search Console and other engines.
Get your legal formalities in order
ADA noncompliance carries legal complications. It is essential to ensure your website has proper accessibility to avoid repercussions like those experienced by Domino’s Pizza.2 In 2019, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case on whether the franchise’s website must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. As a result, an earlier ruling from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals remained in effect. That ruling sided with a blind man who had sued Domino’s over website accessibility. The Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case also strengthened advocates’ arguments that inaccessible business websites are an economic barrier to individuals with disabilities.
To prevent such legal problems, use artificial intelligence–powered testing tools to evaluate your website.3 Next, make changes to your site based on scan results and keep up with any changes to standards.
Are you buying digital ads but leading to a noncompliant website?
We all know social media and Google Ads increase website traffic, but traffic directed to a website not meeting ADA requirements is a billboard for a lawsuit. It is vital to address accessibility issues prior to buying ad placements to avoid emphasizing what your site lacks.
In addition to expanding your clientele, increasing profits, and building an ethical brand, having an ADA-compliant website will help you avoid penalties, boost SEO performance, and improve usability.
- Department of Justice. 2010 ADA Standards for accessible design. ADA.gov. September 15, 2010. Accessed June 27, 2022. https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010A- DAStandards_prt.pdf
- Higgins T. Supreme Court hands victory to blind man who sued Domino’s over site accessibility. CNBC. October 7, 2019. Accessed June 22, 2022. https://www.cnbc. com/2019/10/07/dominos-supreme-court.html
- 5 popular AI-powered tools for test automation. Next Generation Automation. Accessed June 22, 2022. https://www.nextgenerationautomation.com/post/ai-powered-tools