As a website manager, you want do all you can to attract and convert visitors to your website. Ensuring that your web content is inclusive, ADA compliant and accessible for all users takes effort but helps both general users and those with disabilities get the best use of your website. How can you make your website accessible?
Research Accessibility Guidelines
The World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) has provided the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to provide technical direction on ADA compliance for websites. The latest version, WCAG 2.0 outlines 12 guidelines under four key principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. These guidelines address content and usability features to help provide a bit of a website accessibility checklist. Reviewing these principle categories, guidelines and implementation suggestions is the first step in becoming compliant.
Make the Website Perceivable
Users of varying abilities should be able to perceive the content on your website. To do so, there should be alternative ways that content is presented, especially if that content contains images, audio, or video. One way this can be done is by adding captions, descriptions and alternative tags to all images so that they are able to be read by screen readers. If an element has audio, there should also be sign language interpretation so that hearing impaired users can still perceive what your content is about. Implementation also covers text size, use of color and contrast for those that are color blind or otherwise visually impaired.
Make the Website Operable
Website navigation can present a challenge for some users. To comply with ADA regulations, your website should be operable by using a keyboard. All of the elements should be navigable and not limited by short timeouts for users who may move slowly. If there are any audio elements, these should also be able to be controlled. The pages and sections should be clearly marked so a user can determine where they are on the page. Beyond navigation, this principle addresses flashing and blinking elements as these can cause seizures in some users.
Make the Website Understandable
Under the third WCAG principle, the website should be understandable. All text should be readable and understable, so reading level, definitions for technical or unfamiliar language and pronunciation mechanisms can be considered. All web pages should appear and operate in predictable ways throughout the site. On elements requiring input, there should be instructions to avoid or correct mistakes, for example, an error message that is shown if a user enters a password that requires a capital letter, a number and a symbol.
Make the Website Content Robust
Many users employ assistive technology and other agents to use the web. These agents need to be able to “read” your content and website code. Your code should be robust in the sense that it is understood by a variety of assistive technologies. To do so, all HTML markup should follow current standards with clear opening and closing tags. Fortunately, this criterion is best left to your website developer since they are responsible for authoring your website using best practices.
Spark Creative is your partner for building an ADA compliant website that is accessible for users of a vast number of disabilities and challenges. To bring your site into compliance, please reach out.