Let’s get to it: you need to make your website ADA compliant.

Part of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has been interpreted to also include websites. A website is a “public” space under this law. So, if your website isn’t accessible to those with disabilities, it violates this law.

Oh, and there are no defenses or excuses for violating it.

What is “accessible”?

Accessibility on a website encompasses a lot of elements, but it basically means that anyone with a disability can use your website fully: navigate it, access content such as images and videos, click on everything, open everything, etc.

Accessibility includes:

  • Hearing impairments
  • Visual impairments
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Motor disabilities

Because of these different categories of disabilities, accessibility includes everything from color, text size, and transcripts for videos, to keyboard navigation and elements that may cause seizures.

However, there are no clear definitions of web accessibility.

The list of website accessibility standards (WAS) can be accessed online.

Who does it apply to?

Most courts have decided that ADA compliance applies to commercial websites, since these are required to make it just as easy for one customer to use their site as another. Some courts have decided that if the website belongs to a business with a physical location, they must be compliant (e.g. Target, versus Facebook which has no physical “store”).

Ultimately, it’s a good idea to make your website ADA compliant, not only to avoid a lawsuit, but to ensure the 20% of the American population that is disabled has full access to your products and services.

How to make your website ADA compliant

Making your website ADA accessible is a project you can begin right away.  While there is no plugin or widget that you can install to instantly make your website ADA compliant, a knowledgeable web developer will be able to begin implementing these standards.

You can begin to check your website’s accessibility with tools like WAVE or WebAccesibility.com, but a manual review of your website’s code will be more accurate.

Two simple and easy but significant steps towards compliance are alt text for all images and closed captioning of all videos.

Many other web development agencies will offer solutions that really only give you an audit. Make sure you get not just an analysis of your site’s gaps in accessibility, but actual steps towards a full solution.

It’s important to remember that once you’ve made your site compliant, your work isn’t necessarily done. All new content you put on your site should also be compliant!