ADA Compliance 101: How to Make Your Site Web Accessible
Over the last few years, we’re fortunate to see the user-friendliness of websites improve, and as our lives get busier, we almost demand websites to be faster. If that does not happen, we tend to move to the next website.
When a website does not load quickly or work in the way you want it to, you will head over to the next business website to help you. It’s the nature of the internet these days, and as business owners, we have to find a way to improve how our users or viewers experience our site.
It might be the case that it was a delayed server or the owner’s internet service provider was slow, but the end-user will always blame your site and move on.
The reality is that we cannot play the blame game when customers’ attention and purchasing power is at stake. As the blog owner, you must understand how well your site performs in most conditions, proactively planning for downtime, and introducing the right setting and support so that every user has a fantastic browsing experience.
The browsing experience then leads to a click over to buy something you’re selling on your site.
A new trend has emerged of late where websites are not that inclusive, excluding a large part of the internet community, and that is why a recent ruling has come into play leveraging a policy called ADA. That’s precisely the topic for this blog post, and we’ll discuss how to make your website accessible for all users. Before we get into the “how,” let’s look at what ADA is.
What is ADA compliance?
The first step to improving your website’s experience and making it accessible and user friendly for everyone is to review the needs of individuals with disabilities and aim to meet those needs. It might be for a few reasons that site owners have overlooked equitable access to websites.
Therefore, many individuals cannot access the website when there are incorrect settings and features. When sites are not compliant, they do not cater to individuals who suffer from various disabilities like ADHD, blindness, and other visual impairments. That’s the main reason that many mandates have had to be put in place.
This is important for the end-user and mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Previously these mandates were not given the attention it deserved; however, more focus has been placed here and affected the American and global markets. The question you might be asking at this point: “What are the repercussions of not following the mandates?”
Let’s review this in more detail.
When sites are not compliant, then there is potential for lawsuits to occur. An excellent example of this was highlighted by Forbes, in reference to when Netflix, the Sydney Olympic Games, and Domino’s pizza had cases for not following the ADA guidelines. These popular sites did not build in the correct settings and customizations for their websites to support and aid people with disabilities to enjoy their content.
As it stands as a business owner, the best way forward is to get compliant, and in the next section, we’ll look at how you can apply simple steps to do.
Now that you understand what is the ADA and how to get compliant, we can consider some solutions to getting your blog accessible. Let’s look at some of the best ways to go about doing this.
How to Make your Website Accessible
If this doesn’t ring a bell for you, don’t worry, we’ll explain in detail what it means and how you can improve this on your site. As its name suggests, it’s really about your website being able to react quickly and respond to the end-users needs.
This becomes more important in the digital age as more devices become available such as smartphones, smart TVs, and tablets. You can see that each device has its scale and size, and your site must output the content using the right resolution and dimensions.
Keep in mind that your end-user will be happy and have a pleasant experience, and your site’s ranking on Google will also improve. Google aims to provide equitable access for all its users, and that means that Google will support you as you improve your site using tools like Mobile Site Check, which you can find here. You input your website address, and it will show you how accessible your site is based on a variety of devices.
It works because if you meet all the regulations and needs as discussed in ADA and WCAG, then your site is considered compliant, and Google shows your site as “Mobile-friendly.” If not, you will get a reason for this and how you might improve and fix these issues.
Overall, when you apply these simple yet effective methods to make your site mobile responsive, your site will benefit its users, and you will also rank higher in the search engine ranking pages (SERPs).
Another way to improve accessibility is to make it as easy as possible for all visitors and customers to get in touch with your business quickly. You want to ensure that you offer email, phone, chat support, or a how-to guide easy to access on your site. This will improve site usability as well as engagement overall.
We’ve all been there before, where you’re ready to buy something online, but you have a question. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t readily available, so you pause your order and wait for feedback. Usually, a customer will be doing the same things, and this leads to a lost customer.
You can see how this would affect your bottom line. But the good news is that artificial intelligence and chatbots are helping to pave the way in better support.
And while most of the time, the options will not be used, it’s always a good idea to offer channels to support your customers.
We recommend the following options for best results:
- Online chat service support / Messenger service
- Live phone support service
- Email support with the communicated turn around times
- Marked frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- Social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Studies are increasingly showing that people prefer using live chat. The skew is roughly 40% of individuals; therefore, it’s best to have it available and the other channels just if the additional 60% of users want to get in touch. It’s also a good step for your business, which may not be in a position to provide all forms of support. You can then manage your customer’s expectations by mentioning your availability.
Offer Text Alternatives (alt text) for HTML websites
As many of your website users might have different disadvantages when accessing your site, you have to consider providing text alternatives, especially for your website’s photos and videos. For example, if someone does have a visual impairment, the alt text will come in handy and help them understand what was on that image and make sense.
This can usually be done editing your site’s codes or incorporated in individual pieces of content; you should tell your designer to update it accordingly. Or you could use an automated web accessibility software that provides improvement to the content such as larger scales, magnifiers, and improve the color scheme for individuals who have visual disabilities.
Through the use of their artificial intelligence platform, their solution and web accessibility tools are learning and improving all the time — thus allowing for improved user experiences on a daily basis. The most data and usage the platform learns from, the more it can provide assistance in translating different forms of content to those in need of such a solution.
Give users options to customize their experience
Most users will love the options available to view the site precisely the way they want to. This is especially true for disabled visitors.
When you offer alternatives like page orientation, text size options, or contrast options, your users will be happier with this, and they can choose their best view of the website. Navigation tends to become more accessible.
Additionally, many individuals who are disabled might be challenged in using a mouse or trackpad. Therefore, you have to allow for them to use keyboard shortcuts and support. This means that there should be an option to switch to keyboard mode and allow specific keys to be the selector instead of the mouse pad. This process can also be quickly completed using accessible tools that will enable you to customize controls within your website.
Solutions like accessiBe allow you to customize your website and enable the end-user to choose how they would like to view your website. They can choose to update fonts, colors, and activate audio reading. Although, if you don’t have this tool, the option is also to code these design features into your website by doing it yourself or hiring a web designer.
Final Thoughts on ADA Compliance
Statistics show that over 60 million Americans currently have a form of disability, which directly affects how they engage with a website. Generally, when sites understand the impact of their site’s interface on the end-user, they can then consider how this will impact individuals with special needs.
Many companies are taking swift action to make sure they can cater to the needs of all audiences, while also making sure they are ADA compliant in the process. On the other side of an improved site are happy customers who can now visit the site and take advantage of the features and deals that were previously unavailable to them.
This is just another example of a significant and positive trend that we can learn from. If you choose to focus your time and energy on improving your site either using AI technology or manually updating your site, you will be ADA and WCAG compliant. Generally, it means that you are saying to your site visitors that this site is open to everyone, no matter their situation. The result is that all users have a positive experience and are more likely to return and refer you to others.
We recommend using a combination of the methods indicated here for the best results. It is commonly said that it pays to audit your site, understand the vulnerabilities, create a list of actions, and then start tackling them one by one.
We hope this post gave you a better understanding of ADA compliance and how you can improve your site for a better user experience for everyone who visits. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below!