the complete ADA compliance guide for your website

The ADA Compliance Guide for Your Website + Checklist

ADA compliance can be a complex topic, but all website owners should strive to understand it. Making your website compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can break down barriers for people with disabilities and make the internet more inclusive.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the required steps for an ADA compliant website that is accessible for everyone. Plus, we’ll provide helpful tips and resources so you can start immediately. 

What Is ADA Website Compliance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with disabilities from discrimination. Its provisions require businesses and other organizations to provide accommodations for people with disabilities. The ADA also oversees laws focused on equity for folks with disabilities in the workplace, schools and public facilities. The ADA has also brought forth comprehensive website compliance laws.

When a website is ADA-compliant, people with disabilities can enjoy the site’s full functionality. ADA website compliance is important because it ensures that everyone has the same opportunity to access information and use online resources. In that context, the Department of Justice sets ADA compliance standards for websites. 

What Does an ADA-compliant Website Look Like?

A website being ADA compliant means a site must be accessible to people with disabilities, including those using assistive technologies such as screen readers.

You can improve compliance through simple aesthetic improvements, such as adding alt text to images and providing transcriptions for videos.

In addition, use text that can be resized and create a website structure that is easy and intuitive to navigate. This benefits both users with and without disabilities! Basic concepts of User Experience (UX) are beneficial when amplifying your site’s accessibility. 

Making these amendments to your existing website is a reliable way to ensure that all users can access information and resources online.

How Do You Make a Website ADA-compliant?

With the extraordinary expansion of the internet for both personal and commercial use, the ADA has pioneereed many anti-discrimination laws that apply to websites. To make a website ADA-compliant, businesses must adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a set of standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). 

These guidelines provide a framework for making web content accessible to people with disabilities. While WCAG 3 is the most current version of ADA guidelines for websites, many businesses are still working towards compliance with WCAG 2.0.

Here are some steps you should take to make your website more ADA-compliant:

  1. Make sure you are using alt text for images and videos. This feature will help individuals with visual impairments to use your content.
  2. Ensure that your website is navigable using a keyboard. This will help those with limited mobility or who are blind to use your site.
  3. Make sure your website is compatible with screen reading software.

A website being ADA compliant means a site must be accessible to people with disabilities, including those using assistive technologies such as screen readers.

Download our free Checklist to make your Website more ADA Compliant.

Human figures holding large cards in front of a checklist

Again, an ADA compliant website will help those with visual impairments access your content. Making a website ADA compliant can be time-consuming, but it is essential to provide accessibility for everyone.

Which Websites Are Legally Required To Be ADA-compliant?

All websites, except personal, hobbyist, or professional blogs, must be ADA-compliant. You can use your blog for personal information and content, but if you use it in a business format, you are legally bound to meet ADA web requirements.

Likewise, websites that allow people to make purchases, subscribe to an email list, or send in information, like a contact form, are required by law to be ADA-compliant. 

What Is the History of ADA?

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was passed in 1990 to provide civil rights protections to people with disabilities. As mentioned prior, it prohibits discrimination in fields like employment, education, transportation, public accommodations and now websites.

The ADA spurred numerous developments in accessibility design and preceded the World Wide Web Consortium introducing the first Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 in 1995.

Then, in 2003, the Department of Justice released Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities. This text provided guidelines to aid local governments in adapting their sites with accessibility in mind. In the 2010s, the DOJ amended Section 508 of the ADA to align with WCAG 2.0 standards. 

Why Is Being ADA-compliant Important?

Making an ADA-accessible website is not only the ethically just thing to do; it’s also good for business. ADA-compliant accounts improve customer experience and accessibility, making it easier for individuals to navigate your site and consume content. 

By contrast, those that don’t take users with disabilities into account are often seen as frustrating and exclusionary, resulting in lower website visits and therefore lower revenue. In addition, many jurisdictions have laws mandating accessibility, so failing to comply can result in significant legal penalties. 

Fortunately, there are several ways for your website to meet critical standards. By working with an experienced web developer or using accessibility auditing tools, you can ensure that your site is inclusive for all.

Can I Get Sued for Not Being ADA-compliant?

Website managers who are hesitant to update their website to be in compliance with ADA standards should know that noncompliant sites can and often do get sued for noncompliance.

In fact, in 2020 alone, there were over 2,500 cases filed in federal court against allegedly discriminatory websites. As a business owner, the answer is clear: it’s well worth the effort to ensure your site is accessible for all users. 

What Are the Most Important Website Elements To Check for ADA Compliance?

what elements need to be ada compliant

Have you searched for answers to questions like “how to make sure my web agency is following best ADA practices?” or “how to make sure my website is ADA compliant?” There are many factors to consider when making a website accessible.

Some of the most critical elements to check for are:

  • Alt text and captions 
  • Transcripts for audio and video content; 
  • Clear and consistent navigational features; and
  • Support for assistive technologies such as screen readers.

By working with an experienced web agency or vendor familiar with accessibility compliance, you can be confident that your site meets the necessary standards.

Conclusion

Developing an ADA-compliant site may seem daunting, but following the steps in this guide will make it easy and straightforward! Are you ready for the first step in having an ADA compliant website? Contact the Nomadic team today!

Cacy Lyon

Digital Marketing Coordinator
Cacy is a digital marketing coordinator specializing in SEO. She loves the creativity of writing blog posts for each unique client. Cacy loves house plants, yoga, and traveling. When she is not working, she is usually hiking with her dog.