Companies spend a lot of money on making their websites user-friendly, mobile-friendly, search engine optimized, and scalable to fit on any mobile or desktop device that might happen to open them. That process often also involves branding, design and layout changes, content updates, and more, meaning things like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliance can sometimes fall through the cracks.
What does it mean to have an ADA-complaint website, and how do you ensure yours is up to code? This guide will help your company on its journey to providing digital marketing materials that also serve the hearing and vision impaired.
Why Accessibility is Important
Websites are usually meant to be visual and filled with information, but that design is lost on the vision impaired. In addition, any videos or audio content are not exactly impactful to those who cannot hear. These people also need your company’s services, however, as well as other internet and digital offerings.
As such, assistive technology programs like closed captioning will write out text as it’s being read for those who cannot hear or read the text aloud for those who cannot see. Having a website that caters to the otherwise-abled goes a long way toward growing your customer base, and a few quick additions to your web code will ensure these programs have no trouble getting your information into their hands.
In addition to serving as many people as possible, ADA compliance is also becoming mandatory. The U.S. Department of Justice interprets ADA regulations as also applying to websites, and it has plans to amend the language to ensure websites cater to the hearing and vision impaired in the future. It’s best to get ahead of these upcoming regulations before they are enforced.
How to Make Your Website ADA-Compliant
There are several ways to ensure your website complies with ADA standards. Here are a few easy ways to make your company’s web pages easy for the vision and hearing impaired to enjoy:
- Add captions and descriptions to audio and video files, and provide links to text transcripts.
- Add text descriptions explaining complex graphics or charts so assistance technology can describe the findings.
- Avoid repeatedly flashing images in layout and ensure pages do not include strobe effects.
- Give decorative graphics an empty alt tag so that read-aloud programs will ignore them.
- Ensure all Java applets, files, plug-ins, scripts, and included content are assistive technologies-accessible.
- Make sure your audio files, images, plug-ins, video files, and other add-ons have alt tags explaining what they are and why they’re important.
- Properly format table cells, including id, header, HTML, scope, and other attributes.
- Provide links to disability-accessible pages with downloadable plug-ins.
- Tap into web accessibility development tools like Accessibility Evaluation Toolbar for Firefox, Develop Menu for Safari, WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation for Firefox and HTML, Opera, Web Accessibility Toolbar for IE-2011, VisCheck for color blindness, mobiReady for mobile devices, and Stanford’s Web Accessibility Checker.
- Use and test screen reader programs to ensure they work, including offerings like Apple VoiceOver, JAWS, Navigator, Windows Magnifier, WebbIE, Thunder, Access Firefox, Fire Vox, and more.
- Use video links rather than embedding them into web pages.
For more tips and tricks on how to make your website ADA-compliant, check out this accessibility checklist from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Call a Website Expert to Ensure Compliance
If you have concerns about ADA compliance, or want to learn about how to make your company’s website ADA-friendly, give your local IT services provider a call. A team of web design experts will know exactly what to check or add to help it serve all the people who need your services most.