In 1990, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was developed to make sure that individuals with disabilities had the same opportunities in the workplace like everyone else. Businesses need to make sure their buildings accommodate those with disabilities and now because the Internet is so widely used, websites need to be compliant too. This means that your website needs to be accessible to people who have disabilities that affect their hearing, vision, or physical capacities.
Recently, it was made a legal requirement that websites remove any “access barriers” that would inhibit a person with disabilities from accessing the business’ goods or services. If this leaves you wondering if your site is compliant and what the benefits are, we have the answers for you.
Benefits of Being ADA Compliant
1) ADA Compliance Increases Your Target Audience
There are nearly 50 million people in the U.S with disabilities, so if your website is not already ADA compliant, you are automatically missing out on millions of potential customers who cannot access your site due to their disabilities. Many of them might be interested in your products or services, but once they arrive at your website, and are unable to easily navigate through to the products or to reach you. All because your website is only accessible to people without disabilities. Thus, they may move on to your competitors.
2) ADA Compliance Improves SEO
Now more than ever, search engines are evolving to crawl pages with more human intention. Accessibility to screen readers is a big deal, and these readers crawl your website pages similarly to search engines. If your website meets the content guidelines, it will likely appeal to users, search engines, and screen readers alike, and this will improve your SEO efforts. For this reason, meta-tagging, alternative image text, and video transcripts should be added to your website if at all possible.
3) ADA Compliance Can Boost Your Reputation
- Having an ADA compliant website can increase your target audience by millions. It not only gets you more customers, but those customers will also know they are valuable to your business. They could have easily gone to other websites that were not ADA compliant and became disappointed each time that they couldn’t access the content. Getting to your website and finding they can easily access content is a benefit to you and them.
- These new customers will tell their friends how they found your website, and even more, people will know you are ADA compliant and will seek you out. Making your site ADA compliant sets you apart from your competitors and is a great way to get some positive press for your business.
4) ADA Compliance Means Overall Better Website Usability
Creating a more navigable website will ultimately benefit all users while still meeting any required guidelines. Having web pages that are easier to comprehend will allow everyone to find what they’re looking for quickly. If you decide to follow the guidelines, your website will likely convert more leads across the board because users will trust that they can always easily find the content they need when they visit your site.
5) Avoid Possible Penalties
Because most businesses have a website, guidelines need to be updated to include websites. In 1990, there were not many website businesses, so it was never included in the original terms. Now, all updated pages on your website are required to be at least grade A complaint, with grade AAA being the highest. Failure to do so has resulted in hefty fines and lawsuits.
If you want to avoid the legal costs of being found non-compliant with the ADA, it’s best to make the necessary changes to your website now. If you are not sure where to get started, the ADA website has some tips to get you started.
How to develop an ADA-compliant website?
You can get your website ADA compliant in many ways, including some that are not immediately obvious. Worst case scenario, you need to revamp the whole site which can cost a hefty sum. But this will be changed compared to the potential lawsuits you could face if you have a non-compliant website.
There are no regulations or statutes that define ‘ADA compliance’ with regards to websites. You can find requirements for federal websites, as well as some detailed legal decisions that can be used as guidance.
Here are some common ways businesses address accessibility issues associated with their web content:
- Create alt tags for all images, videos, and audio files: Alt tags allow users with disabilities to read or hear alternative descriptions of content when they are unable to view it. Alt tags describe the object itself and the purpose it serves on the site.
- Create text transcripts for video and audio content: Text transcripts help hearing-impaired users understand the content that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
Identify the site’s language in header code: This makes it clear what language the site should be read in to help users who utilize text readers. Text readers can identify those codes and function accordingly so those who need to read can do so with ease.
- Offer alternatives and suggestions: If a user with a disability encounters input errors because of their need to navigate the website differently, your site should automatically offer recommendations and alternatives to them as to how to better navigate towards what they need.
- Create a consistent, organized layout: Organize menus, links, and buttons in such a way that they are clearly delineated from one another and are easily navigated throughout the entire site.
There are many other ways businesses can create an accessible website for users with disabilities. Consult with us to find out the best ways to make your website ADA compliant. Get familiar with the ADA requirements and make the changes and updates you need. Don’t risk getting sued. Instead grow your business by making it accessible to even more of the population.