Is my website ADA compliant?
The portion of the United States population with some type of disability is expected to double by 2060, reaching close to 98 million individuals. 20% of disabled individuals are projected to be either hard of hearing or seeing. As our society delves deeper into the digital age, it’s important to account for disabled individuals when developing digital platforms. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) serves to equalize the access and comprehension of information between those with and without a disability. Below are ways to ensure your website is ADA compliant for the visually impaired.
Clearly label buttons and menu options
Think about this as if you were making a presentation. The text has to be visible, the colors have to properly contrast and it has to be easily understood, right? The same core concepts apply for your ADA compliant website. The fonts you choose to incorporate have a huge impact on accessibility. When using all capital letters or script-like fonts, it’s crucial you keep in mind that your audience may be impaired. Make sure to gage whether the font styles make your content harder to read. In regards to the color of your website’s text, implement some contrast between the page’s background color and font color. Frankly, you don’t have to have an impairment to have a poor user experience if a website lacks clarity. As a general rule of thumb, ensure your website is clear not only in font but wording as well.
Ensure thorough keyboard access and navigation
With the visually impaired in mind, it’s important to make sure that all aspects of your website can be navigated through a keyboard. For those who cannot see the screen, it is very common for the keyboard to be substituted for a mouse. So what does this mean for your website exactly? A good example is that for a user to switch between different elements on a web page, he or she should be able to use Tab or Shift plus Tab, to move forward or backward on the page. This function eliminates the need for sight because the user no longer has to click.
Use alternative text for all images, videos and graphics
Incorporating alternative text into your website ensures your impaired audience’s ability to perceive any information that may be displayed, regardless of their specific disability. This means that even if the screen cannot be seen by the user, alternative text reiterates the same information in a different form.
Alternative text is essentially the metadata which explains what an image shows. You commonly find it in a website’s content management system or html code.
Need another reason to use alternative text?
Its presence greatly assists screen readers in breaking down content for the visually impaired. Simply put, a screen reader is an assistive program that house hundreds of commands to aid the disabled. Oftentimes, screen readers “speak” the webpage out loud to account for those who cannot see the page.
Restrict time sensitive information
It’s extremely difficult for user with disabilities to navigate a website with content that changes after a set period of time. If your website does contain time sensitive information, such as prerecorded video or live content, it’s important for you to design your website in such a manner that equivalent information is provided for the time sensitive content. This can be as simple as implementing an audio track for those hard of sight.
Incorporate consistent formatting throughout the website
Your website should function in a predictable manner, making it easy to apply the same navigation techniques to every page. This element is especially important when it comes to content that links to external web pages. In order to be ADA compliant, your website should not automatically open to a new tab or page. If such an action is necessary, incorporate a submission button to warn the user of the change in context prior to it occurring.
Why you should follow ADA guidelines
ADA website compliance is increasing in demand as the disabled population grows with each coming year. The Americans With Disabilities Act serves to eliminate discrimination, whether it be social or in this case, digital, on account of an individual’s disability. Complying to the ADA guidelines may present businesses and entrepreneurs alike a chance to dramatically grow their customer base. In a society that praises equality, ensuring ADA website compliance is a step in the right direction.