ADA Compliance - Guidelines for Ensuring Website Accessibility

November 04, 2019

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Penta Sravani

Senior Software Engineer

As a business, you want customers to access your offerings easily. To enable this, you need to make sure that visitors can access content, engage with different elements, and navigate through your website successfully, despite any disability that they might have. That is what ADA aims at - it works towards removing exclusivity and offers an equal experience to all.

The American Disability Act (ADA) was published in 1990 to offer an opportunity for differently-abled people to be on equal footing with other individuals. Originally introduced to make public accommodations accessible to the disabled community, the regulations have extended to the online space due to the growing use of technology in our daily lives. So if your business has a website, you need to ensure that it is ADA compliant.

In this blog, we have listed the ADA proposed requirements for website accessibility. Apply these to your website to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access it fully and equally.

Guidelines for Better Website Accessibility

Website Presentation

  • Use clear, descriptive text for page titles, headings, and link anchor text.
  • Begin headings on each page with one < h1 > tag and then flow down to < h2 >, < h3 >, and so on down to < h6 > based on the hierarchy of subheadings within the page content.
  • When using color to convey meaning, provide an alternative.
  • Forms must have coded labels for fields, clear instructions on fields, and how to fix errors, clear error indications, and example formats (e.g., 10/12/1980).
  • Use section labels containing landmark and iframe labels to indicate and describe different sections and content.
  • Use identical labels and alt tags across the site for all images and elements (e.g., icons, frames, fields) that are identical.
  • Ensure that the website is free of error pages, broken links, and HTML errors.

Website Appearance

  • Ensure text zoom in up to 200% without hampering the readability of the website.
  • All text must have a color contrast ratio of 4.5:1 against its background.
  • Text links inside a body of text (not inside header or footer navigation menus) must stand out from normal text through at least two of the following markups: underline, bold, italics, color.
  • Maintain a consistent layout framework and header and footer navigation throughout the website.

Content Alternatives

  • Provide descriptive alt text for all meaningful images on a website.
  • Avoid usage of images for text when actual text can readily be substituted (exceptions: logos, branding, graph labels).
  • Place text transcripts for all audio and video files directly below the file. Text transcript must accurately convey the full meaning conveyed in the audio or video.
  • For tables containing a large amount of data, provide either a) an alternative version that breaks up the table into manageable columns and/or rows, or b) a caption that accurately conveys the data.
  • Ensure respective accessibility requirements for all documents such as PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, Excel files, Microsoft Word documents, etc.

User Control

  • Do not use pop-ups unless they are intended to provide instructions or assist website users.
  • Ensure that video and audio fields do not play unless a user clicks to play the media.
  • Make sure that no part of a website may change unexpectedly.
  • Do not use blinking or flashing content (gifs, videos, etc.).
  • Enable any content that automatically updates or refreshes (e.g., sports scores, scrolling news) to be paused by the user (exception: rotating ads are permitted).
  • For websites that require the submission of critical financial/personal/scheduling information (e.g., credit card number, social security number, reservation date, etc.), users must be provided with an opportunity to review and correct information submitted before finalizing the submission.

Website Usability

  • All functions and content of a website must be accessible by keyboard only.
  • Place a focus indicator box on all links and fields.
  • Provide a skip navigation link at the top left of every page on a website (not necessarily visible).
  • Provide a search function for, at a minimum, on the homepage. If placed on additional pages, the search function must remain in the same place.
  • Place a link to a sitemap for, at a minimum, on the homepage.
  • Set a default language for the website.

There is more to the ADA guidelines than just making your site friendly for a diverse user base. With the volume of lawsuits related to website accessibility increasing, this is the right time to comply with these guidelines than ever before. Perform an accessibility compliance audit of your website to know where you stand. Post assessment, follow the above-stated rules to achieve the required accessibility standards as set in the ADA.

Get in touch with our UI/UX experts to learn how we can help you comply with ADA requirements.

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