Published April 12, 2019
The ADA, Americans With Disabilities Act, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s disability. Just like buildings are required to provide ramps and elevators in addition to stairs, did you know that websites must cater to people with limited dexterity, low vision, and hearing impairments?
Safeguard Your Website: Accessible Design
Assistive technology, like screen readers, text enlargement software, voice-controlled computers, touchscreens, and more, allow people with disabilities to use computers and access your ecommerce website. Accessible website design accounts for the use of assistive technology, and does not require users to see, hear, or use a standard mouse in order to access the information the website provides.
Safeguard Your Website: ADA Compliance Levels
There are specific guidelines that websites must follow in order to be considered ADA compliant. These are broken down into three main levels, which include:
- A = must support
- AA = should support
- AAA = may support
AA is what most websites aim for because A is typically too light and may not fully comply, and AAA is oftentimes too strict and limiting in terms of design and interactivity.
Does My Website Need to Be ADA Compliant?
Any company with 15+ employees is required to meet ADA compliance standards, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. This includes smaller e-commerce agencies, as well as large, national brands that sell across multiple platforms.
Why Is This Important?
According to UsableNet Inc., there were 2,285 web accessibility lawsuits filed in federal courts in 2018, a 181% increase from 2017. In early 2019, a woman filed a class action lawsuit against Beyonce.com for not being accessible to people with visual impairments. In 2017, a man sued Hooters for not being accessible via his screen reader software.
Failure to safeguard your website and make sure it is ADA compliant could result in an expensive, time-consuming, unnecessary lawsuit that could damage your business’ reputation. It is a good idea to take precautions now to avoid getting caught up in something that could have been prevented.*
How Do I Know If My Website Meets ADA Compliance Standards?
Our SEO team has put together a checklist for you to use to see if your website meets basic Level-A ADA compliance standards. While this list does not exhaust all items in this level, it should provide insight as to where a website may need to start making improvements or modifications.
Ask yourself the following questions.
Does my website use:
|Concise image alt text that accurately describes what the image shows? (Describing individual images without the use of “image of…” or “graphic of…”)|
|SEO-friendly file names, image names, and URLs? (Uses the primary keyword and does not use underscores, spaces, or hashtags.)|
|Videos that incorporate schema markup, video transcripts, and closed captions? (Important even when videos are hosted on YouTube or other third-party sites.)|
|PowerPoints or PDFs that include alt text on images and charts? (Also, fill in all available fields when saving a file, including: author, title, and tags)|
|Non-flashing elements, and fonts & colors that are easy to read? (Text-to-background color contrasts.)|
|An up-to-date HTML sitemap and/or site search functionality?(Give visitors at least two ways to access your site’s content.)|
|Descriptive anchor text when linking from one page or site to another? (No use of “here” or “click here.”)|
|An easy-to-navigate main menu? (In addition to parity between mobile and desktop.)|
If you answer “no” to any of the questions below, work with your developer(s) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to help safeguard your website.
Are you interested in more resources to help improve your site’s SEO? We’ve got you covered!
- The 4 Pillars of a Successful SEO Mindset: Building Strategies for Concrete Results
- Replatforming Your Website? Avoid These Marketing Pitfalls
- Keyword Research: Three Basic Strategies
- 8 Tips for Product Page SEO Optimization
- Local SEO: Complete Checklist for Success
*Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and do not provide legal advice. This information should only be used as suggested recommendations. Please consult an attorney for specific legal questions or concerns.