Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all public places must remove barriers to access for the disabled, including virtual spaces such as websites and apps. Web developers today must create websites compliant with the ADA and consider how each element on their page can be adapted to meet the needs of the disabled.
To ensure ADA compliance, website owners must keep the following four standards in mind :
- Perceivable. This refers to the usability of the website’s content to anyone who accesses it. For instance, websites should provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms that people may need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simpler language.
- Operable. Users should not have issues working with the controls that the website provides. This can include making all functionality available from a keyboard, providing users with enough time to read and use content, or avoiding a website design that includes content known to cause seizures or physical reactions.
- Understandable. All users visiting the website should be able to interpret the content provided. Website owners should ensure that their text content is readable and understandable and that the website appears and operates in predictable ways. Consider making the font larger for the visually impaired or helping users to enter information into forms without any errors.
- Robust. The code used to build the website should function in the most commonly used browsers. Web developers will want to maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.
The World Wide Web Consortium recommends that website owners adapt their websites to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to ensure their websites are accessible. The most recent standardized version is WCAG 2.1, and it provides web developers with the necessary flexibility to conform to ADA standards, based on the specific layout of their websites. From lowest to highest, the levels of compliance are as follows:
Level A- ADA Compliance
- Add alternative text to images or any other non-text sections on the website
- Allow users an alternate way to access audio-only or visual-only content
- Structure code in a logical manner and group related information together
- Never use presentations that rely only on color
- Avoid having audio components play automatically
- Add captions to videos that contain audio
- Give users control when it comes to manipulating content
- Make page titles useful and easy to read
Level AA- ADA Compliance – everything in Level A compliance plus:
- Add sign language interpretations for videos
- Put captions on live video
- Make keyboard focus clear
- Have a navigation structure that is easily understood
- Properly use form fields and elements related to user data input
- Make audio descriptions available for video content
Level AAA- ADA Compliance – everything in Level A and Level AA compliance plus:
- Give users an alternative option for live video
- Don’t use any time limits
- Allow users to browse without interruption
- Provide explanations for any abbreviations
- Use headers to break up large blocks of content
- Give users options when it comes to how the screen is presented
- Provide explanations of difficult or complex words
- Tell users where they are on the page
It is important to keep these guidelines in mind while creating or revising a website. By complying with the above suggestions and guidelines, website owners can ensure that their website is accessible to everyone.
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