If you’re reading this from a standard desktop, tablet, or mobile device, you are part of the majority. However, there is an often-overlooked minority of those who don’t get to experience the internet the same way due to a disability. As business websites turn into the solely available storefront due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to invest in providing an equally accessible website for those with disabilities.
Rooted in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), maintaining ADA compliance has become a crucial set of guidelines for businesses in-person and virtually. Just like storefronts are to remove physical barriers like stairs by adding ramps, your website must abide by removing its own accessibility obstacles as well. By not providing a digitally accessible website in compliance with the ADA, you’re not only missing out on as many as 26% of American adults, but you’re also leaving your business vulnerable to lawsuits from accessibility issues.
A few months ago, Mike, one of our web developers, gave insight on understanding ADA compliance, the lawsuits at stake for not complying, and more of the coding-based compliance changes to make. The items lined out in that article are crucial and take skilled developers to optimize and comply. However, there are also many ways that you can start investing in ADA compliance without a web developer.
Some of the best places to start are with key areas of your website including content and media.
Content is king. This is a common phrase in digital marketing and remains true when it comes to accessibility. Elevate your content and its accessibility by focusing on these areas.
- Unique Page Titles – Every page of your website needs a unique title that immediately informs a reader what is on the page.
- Clean and Concise Content Wins – Use short sentences and paragraphs in the active voice.
- Headings are Vital – Screen readers, a common tool for website users with disabilities, give an order of operations to read in. Every heading, whether it’s H1, H2, H3, or H4, gives a preview of what they are reading. Keep headings in this order to allow for proper reading.
- Give Readers a Reference – If your topic is technical or complex, close the page with a glossary of terms. If you use an acronym in your content, make sure to spell it out on the first reference on the page. For example, WCAG is not a common acronym and you don’t want to leave users guessing or leaving your page to research.
- Back Links with Context – A “click here” link doesn’t provide information on where a reader is going. Meanwhile, listing it as “Banana Bread Recipe (PDF)” lets a reader know exactly what they’re getting.
- Write with Lists – Bulleted and numbered list structures are easy to read and skim (see what we did there).
Multimedia (Photo & Video)
Visuals are great to feature throughout a website to increase user engagement. There are a few ways to ensure they offer a seamless experience for all.
- Image Alternative Text – Every image on your website should have a description of what is in the image and/or the function of the image. If an image is purely for decorative purposes, it is not required but it is better to be on the safe side. To note, this text often does not appear when viewing the image in a standard format. This comes as an extra bonus for your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts!
- Captions and Transcripts – For videos with talking or narration, add captions to the video with the spoken information in real-time. Additionally, provide video transcripts that break down all the action of the video, not just the spoken information.
- Don’t Autoplay Videos – While videos are important, having a video start playing on a page load is jarring and can cause issues for screen readers.
- Avoid Light Flashes – This relates back to the creation of your video, but if you know a video will live on your website, make sure that it is not aggravating to a user’s vision.
- Color Contrast – Related to content as well, any kind of graphic (still motion or video) that has text must have a clear difference between background color and text. When the colors are too similar, it is difficult to read for all users.
Invest in Digital Accessibility
In our increasingly digital world, now is a critical time to make sure that you are taking steps for ADA compliance. There’s never been a better time to invest in this space for you and your business. In doing so, you both protect your business as well as build it to tap into previously unreached audiences. These are just a few of the easy ways to tackle this today.