Did you know that over 70% of potential customers will leave a website if it isn’t accessible? If you want to keep customers happy on your website, you must create a site that is easy for everyone to use. If you’re looking for answers to the question, “do websites have to be ADA compliant,” you’ve come to the right place.
On this page, we’ll discuss whether your site has to be to ADA compliant, the benefits of having a compliant website, and five tips for improving your website accessibility. If you need help making an ADA compliant website, contact us online or call us today at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist.
Do websites have to be ADA compliant?
The biggest question businesses have about ADA regulations online is, “do websites have to be ADA compliant?” The answer to this question is tricky. According to Title I of the ADA, businesses that have at least 15 full-time employees and operate 20 or more weeks in a year are required to comply.
Under Title III, companies that are “public accommodations,” like hotels or transportation services, must also provide services for disabled persons. So, how does this factor into your website? There are no clear rules or regulations for making your website ADA compliant. This ambiguity leads many businesses to believe that they don’t need an ADA-friendly website.
Keep in mind, that ADA compliance is not the same as 508 compliance. So, do websites have to be ADA compliant?
In short, yes.
If you don’t have an ADA-friendly website, you put your business at risk of two things.
The first is lawsuits. Even though the regulations aren’t official on how to make an accessible website, your business still must attempt to create a website that is ADA compliant. Disabled persons can file lawsuits against companies that don’t have sites that accommodate different disabilities.
Secondly, a non-ADA compliant website risks losing valuable leads for your business. If disabled persons are looking for your products and services, you don’t want to lose them as potential customers because your website isn’t accessible to them. Whether or not your business falls under Title I or III, it’s in your best interest to make an ADA-compliant website to ensure you’re not excluding anyone.
Following ADA website compliance is in your best interest to provide every person with a positive experience on your site.
Why should I make an ADA compliant website?
There are numerous reasons to follow ADA website compliance. Let’s take a look at four essential reasons to support website accessibility.
1. It makes everyone in your audience feel included
If you don’t accommodate persons with a disability, you’re alienating part of your audience. One in five people in the U.S. lives with a disability. There’s a good chance that someone with a disability will view your website, and you should strive to create a site that is viewable for everyone.
By making your site compliant, you make all your customers feel welcome on your website. Each person that visits your site can access your pages in a way that works best for them.
2. It helps improve your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking
When you make your site more ADA accessible, it enables you to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking, too. Methods like video transcripts and alternative image text help your site be more accessible for your audience (we’ll dive into these practices more later). In this process, you provide search engines with more information about your site.
It helps search engines gain a better understanding of what your site covers and where it should rank in search results. When search engines understand your site better, they can rank your website more appropriately in the search results. It helps you improve your site’s ranking while assisting disabled visitors to read your information more easily.
3. It improves your reputation
When you make your site ADA accessible, you build a positive reputation for your business. It shows your audience that you care enough about them to accommodate their needs. Imagine someone with a disability visits competitors’ sites to try and find information about their products.
If those competitors didn’t have an ADA compliant website, it would discourage these users from browsing their site. Next, they come across your website. Your website is ADA compliant.
These users happily browse through your site and get all the information they need. This positive experience puts your brand in a positive light. It makes your customers happy, and they pass the information on to others.
Making your site more inclusive leads to more positive experiences and more people building up a positive reputation for your business.
4. It increases site usability
A crucial part of your website is the user experience. You want users to have a positive experience while browsing your site. If your site doesn’t provide a positive experience, leads won’t remain on your page.
When you make your website ADA compliant, it provides a better experience for everyone who visits your site. It helps you deliver more valuable information for your audience and cover any bases where the user experience could be inadequate.
How do I make an ADA compliant website?
Since there aren’t any set guidelines on how to meet ADA website compliance, it’s challenging to know how to make your website usable for disabled persons. If you’re ready to start making a more ADA compliant website, check out these five tips.
1. Offer text alternatives
Text alternatives are a great starting point on how to make an ADA compliant website. These alternatives are especially crucial for photos and videos on your website. If someone has a visual impairment, they may not be able to look at your photos.
If that’s the case, alternative text can help them learn what’s in the picture. They can use site readers to read the image to them, so they know what’s on your page. On the other hand, someone who has a hearing disability may not be able to listen to your video.
By adding captions or a video transcript, those users can read the information from your video and still get the value from it. Text alternatives offer ways for disabled visitors to obtain your information in the way that’s best for them. If you want to create a more ADA compliant website, use text alternatives on all your visuals.
2. Offer ways to make your site visually easier to use
For those who have visual disabilities, offering some alternatives on how to view your site can make it easier for them to browse. Many companies will offer font size adjustments for those who need a bigger font size. This feature helps users with disabilities adjust the type on your site so they can read it at a scale that works best for them.
Another suggestion focuses on creating a high contrast option for your website. Offer a second version of your site that has more contrast between different elements on your site. Use features like bold text to make it easy for your audience to read.
When you offer alternative ways to view your site, you make it easier for disabled persons to navigate your pages. It’s a great way to improve your website accessibility.
3. Design your website to work with keyboard support
Many people have disabilities where they can’t use a mouse or trackpad. These users rely on their keyboard or outside device to navigate through your website. To make your site friendly for these users, you’ll want to ensure that it allows keyboard support.
For example, if you have long pages with an abundance of content, make it easier for non-mouse users to get to what they need. Break up this content with anchor links so that keyboard users can skip to the most critical parts of your page. Another example is your navigation.
Many companies design their navigation only to show different parts of their menu when a user hovers their mouse over the menu. If you have a disabled user that can’t use a mouse, you’ll make it difficult for them to use your website. To help these users navigate your site better, you want to design navigation that screen readers can use, and users can click with their keyboard to go through the different tabs.
By designing your website for keyboard support, you’ll make it easier for disabled persons to use your website.
4. Include ARIA landmarks
Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) landmarks help you follow ADA website compliance. ARIA landmarks make it easier for disabled persons to read your webpage. These landmarks allow you to add an element in your page to define important areas of your site.
You can identify areas like your main content area or the navigation area. Identifying these different sections can help assistive technology, like screen readers, comb through your site easier. ARIA landmarks help your audience know what they’re reading, the content’s location, and where to proceed next.
It’s a great feature that will help you maintain ADA website compliance.
5. Use tools disabled persons use
If you want to create a website that works for disabled persons, use the technology they use to access your site. From screen readers to alternative input devices for scrolling through a site, your audience will use different forms of assistance to navigate your website. When you use these technologies as you design and build your site, you gain a better understanding of the issues and struggles these users face.
It also helps you test to see if your ADA-friendly elements work with the technology. It’s an excellent way for you to gain a broader understanding of how you can make your website better for disabled persons. You’ll create a more user-friendly site when you understand how your audience browses your site.
Build your ADA compliant website today
Creating an ADA compliant website will help you make everyone in your audience feel more included.
You’ll create a website that’s more user-friendly and provides a positive experience for everyone in your audience. At WebFX, we have a team of over 500 experts that will bring their knowledge and expertise to help you grow your business. We’ll help you adapt your site to be more ADA compliant.