If millions of people can’t access your website, you aren’t reaching your customers. An ADA compliance website checklist can help you meet the needs of your visitors.

Did you know 13% of Americans age 12 and older have hearing loss? They can’t hear your catchy music or facts spoken on a video.

26.9 million adults report they have vision loss. They can’t see your product or service by viewing a photo on your website.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations help companies communicate with all consumers.

The original ADA addressed discriminatory practices related to physical locations. It began to regulate websites in 2009. Today, websites can adapt so people with disabilities can access online information.

ADA compliance is vital for any company that does business on the web. That’s why we put together the ultimate ADA compliance website checklist below. Keep reading to learn more.

What is ADA Compliance?

In 1990, US President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA. It focused on stopping discrimination based on disabilities. ADA made it illegal to treat people with disabilities unjustly.

The ADA changed public buildings, jobs, and transportation to give people with disabilities equal access. Public and private organizations must follow the ADA Guidelines in person and online.

Dangers of a Non-Compliant Website

Non-compliance puts your company at risk for lengthy and expensive legal battles. There were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts in 2018. That’s a 181% increase over the previous year.

An ADA lawsuit costs more than legal fees. It can damage your brand, reputation, and sales.

If you don’t have experience with disabilities, it’s harder to think of ways to make your site adaptable. That’s where the guidelines help.

Assistive Technology helps people surf the web. Tools include text readers, magnifiers, and screen readers. When you update a website, make sure its compatible with these tools.

ADA Compliance Website Checklist

The Web Accessibility Standards (WAS) fall into several categories. They address making the site easy to navigate and understand.

If you’re launching a new website, make sure you meet all the standards before you publish. Audit an established site to make it accessible to everyone.

1. Website Presentation

The first challenge is the website design. Is the layout is complex? Can the visitor adjust it?

Declutter the design and give users a way to adjust the size and color of text, fonts, and images. Follow these rules:

Accurate and Descriptive Text

The text should be a clear, accurate description of the page’s content. This includes page titles, headings, and link anchor text.

Color

Don’t rely on color alone to separate elements on the site. You must provide an alternative like titles or captions.

Forms

Forms are hard for screen readers and must be very clear. Add coded labels to each field of the form.

Give clear instructions on making corrections. Use standard formats for the name, date of birth, address, etc.

Headings

Use the hierarchy of subheadings within the page content. Each page has one <H1> tag followed by descending headers <h2> to <h6> as needed.

Consistent Labels

All images need descriptive alt tags. Imagine you cannot see the image when creating the alt tag. Use the same labels and tags for identical elements.

Code

It’s hard to navigate a website with HTML errors, broken links, and error pages. Make sure the site has quality code.

Text

Use larger fonts to help people with blurry vision and other sight issues. A bigger size makes words easier to read without eyestrain.

Color Contrast Ratio

All text must have a color contrast ratio of 4.5:1 against the background for legibility.

Putting black type on a light background is easy to read. Dark gray type placed on a light gray background is not.

Links

Don’t underline any copy unless it’s a link. Links within paragraphs must use at least two distinctive markups to separate them. Markups include underlining, bold, italics or a different color.

Zoom Text

The ADA rule for resizing is up to 200% of the original size. The text must be readable when enlarged.

Layout and Navigation

Maintain a consistent layout throughout the website. Use the same framework, header, and footer navigation on each page. Keep it the same whether it’s in portrait or landscape mode.

Main pages can have different layouts, but categories should match. Product pages must all use the same layout.

2. Content Alternatives

There are ways to handle alternative content to meet ADA requirements.

Don’t Use Images of Text

Never use an image of text instead of the text. Exceptions to this rule include logos, branding, infographics, and charts with labels.

Alt Text for Images

Each image must have a descriptive alt text. This includes every photo, logo, infographic, and chart.

Charts and infographics need also need a descriptive caption. This connects the alt text to the info in the image. Text reader software can read the descriptions of images.

Text Transcripts

If you host digital videos or audio on your site the page must have a text transcript. The transcript is live text on the page.

It must provide a clear and complete understanding of the video or audio. This provides information to deaf or blind visitors.

Closed Captions for Video

Every video with discernible voices and sounds requires synced closed captioning.

Data Tables

Large table data needs accompanying text that explains the content in the table. Another option is to turn a large table of data into smaller ones.

Extra Documents

PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, documents, and spreadsheets must meet all accessibility standards.

3. Individual User Control

Give your visitors control over their experience with these features.

Pop-ups

Don’t use automatic pop-ups for subscriptions, special offers or commercial reasons. Pop-ups for help are okay. You can have pop-ups with instructions or a time warning.

Autoplay

Autoplay for video and audio is not permitted.

Pause

Allow users to pause content that updates or refreshes. Rotation advertisements are okay.

Adjustable Time Limits

Time limits must have a warning before expiring. Give users the ability to extend the limit up to 8x the original limit before the countdown begins.

There are some exceptions, like time limits on an auction bid.

Submissions

Give users the ability to review and correct important information before final submission. This applies to personal, financial, and scheduling information.

Unexpected Changes

No element on your website can change unexpectedly. Use soft transitions that aren’t surprising.

4. Website Usability

ADA compliance depends on how easy it is for a person with a disability to navigate your site. Put the following options in place for the best results.

Language

Set a default language for your website.

HTML Format

HTML is easy for text-to-speech and similar applications to read. Avoid PDFs if you can. Optical character recognition devices can’t read or recognize PDFs.

Skip Navigation

There should be a skip navigation link at the top left of every page. You can make the link visible or invisible.

Skip navigation technology lets users skip links or headings. They can go right to the main content.

Search Function

A search function box in the same place on every page is ideal. A search option on the homepage alone is the least you can do.

Focus Indicator

A focus indicator box shows all the links and fields.

Keyboard Only

Make the entire website useable with the keyboard alone.

If someone can’t use a computer mouse they can be a specialized keyboard. Make sure your website supports keyboard navigation.

Sitemap

You must provide a link to the sitemap on the homepage. It’s better to provide it on the footer of every page of the site.

5. Assistive Technology Considerations

People with disabilities have resources available to help them navigate the world. Thanks to technology, some of those tools help them surf the internet.

These amazing tech tools include:

  • Text-to-Speech Services
  • Closed Captioning
  • Text Readers and Magnifiers
  • Screen-reading Software
  • Optical Character Readers

Consumers with disabilities can use these tools with ease on a compliant site.

6. Provide Customer Support

Another part of ADA compliance is providing support for disabled users. Make it easy for users to submit feedback.

Address any concerns as an essential part of customer service. Be ready to change something when a rule or need isn’t met.

Take it a step further by asking people with disabilities to test your site. Ask for suggestions on ways to improve it.

Schedule regular audits to guarantee ADA conditions are on point.

Make Your Website ADA Compliant

Don’t underestimate the importance of this ADA compliance website checklist. People with disabilities have the legal right to equal access to your site.

Contact us today to learn how to make your website ADA compliant. We’ll help you give all your customers an excellent online experience.