The web has become the backbone of our society, with many people conducting almost all of their business online these days. However, one of the biggest groups that are often left out in this space are people with disabilities. There are laws on the books to ensure that websites and mobile apps are accessible to those with disabilities, but there’s still more that can be done to make sure those who need accessibility features have them available to them. Here’s what you need to know about ADA and web accessibility and how your business can benefit from it if you’re not already meeting ADA requirements.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 by Congress. The primary purpose of the ADA is to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, transportation, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, etc. as well as to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA does not include every aspect of web design like accessibility; however, the DOJ has repeatedly stated that ADA compliance must also include website accessibility.
The Common Mistakes Website Owners and Developers Make
There are some common mistakes you should be aware of when designing your site. First of all, at least one page on every website must be navigable without requiring a user to rely entirely on mouse-based input or a specific type of browser. This applies even if that page has no interactive content or it is used as a contact us page; if it exists on your site, it must be accessible. Many users rely on keyboard shortcuts to navigate websites—alt+left arrow key, alt+right arrow key, etc.—so that they can bypass cursor movement altogether.
Additionally, information conveyed through color alone must also be available through text alone. For example, if red means danger and green means safety, then all indications of danger must be available in green. Visually-impaired users often use screen readers which read out web pages word-for-word. Navigation links that only appear when hovering over them must remain present throughout navigation so screen reader users know where they are at all times.
Also, small images called buttons (such as those labeled submit and delete) need to have their name included on focus/hover. Clicking these buttons will act upon them immediately; in order for visually impaired users to avoid accidentally pressing these buttons, they need to know what they do ahead of time.
The Importance of ADA Compliance
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, but many companies are still struggling to comply with its guidelines. Unfortunately, not only does non-compliance expose businesses to legal action from customers, it also damages their reputation as a socially responsible company. While adapting your web site for ADA compliance can be a hassle, it’s one that’s necessary for small businesses looking to do business in an ethical manner.