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What is an ADA-compliant website?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | ADA |

When people typically think about inclusivity for people with disabilities, they often think about adding a ramp to stairs, providing braille or recordings for the visually impaired or including accessible parking spaces. But, many people don’t realize that websites can be hard for people with disabilities to access and use.

A website needs to be more than a place to relay information and provide users access to products and services. Most Courts have ruled that most websites need to be constructed and maintained in a manner that renders them reasonably accessible to persons with disabilities, such as users or websites that are blind. The Department of Justice has provided some guidance, but no clear testable standards that need to be followed as discussed in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidance. When a website is not ADA-compliant, it may deny people with certain disabilities equal access to information.

Web designers and developers don’t always consider how people with disabilities can access their sites and how these sites should be ADA-compliant. If you’re designing a website, it can help to learn how to make it ADA-compliant. Here’s what you should know:

Barriers people with disabilities face as they use the internet

There are a few common issues that make it hard for people with disabilities to access information online. Images that impart information or show products or services generally will need a description embedded in the code (not just next to the image). Links generally will need a description of what they are linking to. Text may not be legible for people who have vision impairment, such as limited vision or color blindness. This can make it difficult for people to read information if the color of text or an icon is meant to convey certain information.

There are add-on programs that claim to make websites “ADA compliant,” but in our opinion these generally will not necessarily prevent a claim or prevent a lawsuit. See our discussion of ADA automated programs at www.ADAplugins.com.

Furthermore, people with hearing issues may not understand information conveyed through videos or audio recordings. These forms of media may need captions added.

While many people are likely to use a mouse to navigate a website, it’s not possible for everyone. A website should include options so that people can navigate web content with only the use of a keyboard.

It’s the responsibility of the web designer to consider inclusivity when making a website. It can help to reach out for legal guidance to learn more about ADA guidelines.