While the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted nearly 30 years ago, lawyers say lawsuit filings related to ADA compliance aren’t cooling down. In fact, ADA complaints specifically against website owners are heating up. According to website accessibility company UsableNet, last year there were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts across the nation, an increase of a 181 percent from 2017.

So what does this mean for your organization’s website? 

Websites designed without thought or concerns for universal accessibility can create barriers for people with disabilities. We can’t assume everyone sees and accesses a webpage in the same way. Accessible website design recognizes these differences and accommodates individuals with disabilities in order to enable access the information and services offered.

The law that primarily governs accessibility is The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). And although it doesn’t mention websites anywhere, Title III of the ADA has been interpreted by US courts to apply to websites.

So, how do you ensure your website accessible to individuals with disabilities?

Develop and maintain the site so people with disabilities can enjoy full use of your website – that includes content, navigation, etc.

Here are some basic tips:

  • Alt Text: add alt text to all meaningful images on your website. – What’s an Alt Tag? HTML tags – specific instructions understood by a web browser or screen reader. One type of HTML tag called an “alt” tag (short for “alternative text”), is used to provide brief text descriptions of images that screen readers can understand and speak.
  • Closed Captioning: All videos on your website must have closed captioning.
  • Full Audio Descriptions on Videos: This is an extra cumbersome one but success criterion 1.2.5 (yes, level AA) says that an audio description of the important, non-audible information should be conveyed during pauses in the video. This is suggested in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (or WCGA) and not part of the law. The exception here is if the audio in the video speaks for itself and no description is needed.
  • Text Transcripts: Add a text transcript beneath all video-only and audio-only files.
  • No Images of Text: All text must be readable by a screen reader.
  • Post Documents in a Text-Based Format: Always provide documents in an alternative, text-based format, such as HTML or RTF (Rich Text Format), in addition to PDF.
  • And Make sure your website must be fully accessible without a mouse, by using the arrow or tab buttons.

Need additional help making your existing site compliant within ADA standards or building a new site that’s more universally accessible? We’re happy to help. Click here to get started today. 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

The ADA Checklist for 2019: https://medium.com/@krisrivenburgh/the-ada-checklist-website-compliance-guidelines-for-2019-in-plain-english-123c1d58fad9