Websites and ADA Standards for Accessible Design

According to The National Law Review, reported lawsuits alleging that websites don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) increased by 75% from 2018 to 2020. The ADA became a law in 1990 prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. The Department of Justice revised regulations and created enforceable accessibility standards in its 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

While there are no clear-cut rules in place with regard to the ADA and website compliance, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are followed by many organizations in order to reference ways to help improve website accessibility.

Lone Beacon creates effective website design that is equal parts form and function. While we’re focused on creating aesthetically pleasing websites, our goal is to make advisor’s websites into an effective lead capture mechanism. During the design, implementation, and management phases of our advisor websites, Lone Beacon is extremely cognizant of ADA standards and the WCAG.

You probably see the results of the ADA all the time – wheelchair access ramps, accessible restroom facilities, and braille signage are some of the most visible accommodations. Compliance is more complicated when it comes to websites, as the original law does not address them explicitly. However, various courts have ruled that commercial websites are places of public accommodation and are subject to ADA rules. That’s why many organizations follow WCAG to help ensure websites are:

  1. Perceivable A website’s information and user interface must be presented to users in a way that disabled people can easily perceive it.
  2. Operable A site’s user interface and navigation must be user-friendly.
  3. Understandable The website’s content and how the user interface operates should be easy to understand and use.
  4. Robust Finally, a website should be adaptable to a variety of browsers and assistive technologies even after updates.

The design and upkeep phases are critical, but new technology allows us to use software widgets that are compatible with our websites. With them, we can scan for areas and features of a website that may not be deemed fully in line with ADA standards for accessible design. Additionally, when first designing websites, there are ways to help mitigate risk of not following ADA standards, such as presenting navigation menus up-front and in highly visible areas. Hidden navigations can be a strike against you in ADA standards. Also, with links, it’s important that when you roll over a link there is a change in the text denoting that this text is clickable. Usually the color or the size of the text will change, for example.  Links need to be clearly identified, which is something often overlooked by many website developers.

The use of software widgets doesn’t require any changes to a website and does not interfere with user experience. Some of the accommodations these widgets can provide are contrast modification and font magnification (which makes text easier to read), keyboard and smart navigation to help the visually impaired, and stopping any on-page objects that flash to decrease the chance of triggering someone with epilepsy. Also important is having responsive text and allowing all images to be tagged with titles or descriptions so that the visually impaired can be told what’s on their screen.

If you’d like to learn more about your website and its status in terms of the ADA, then contact Lone Beacon today for a complimentary website review.

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The preceding text is presented for informational purposes only. None of the information contained herein constitutes legal, compliance or any other advice related to the subject matter.  You should consult with your compliance department and legal advisor before making any decisions on the informational subject matter presented.