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Understanding ADA Compliance and What it Means for Your Website

website accessibility

The fact is that while you may be unfamiliar with the particulars of ADA compliance, it’s a crucial element that organizations of all sizes in the United States must incorporate by law. This is a big deal! Whether you’re planning on starting a new business, starting a new website for your established business, or already have both a business and website, this is information that you must know and be aware of.

While ADA compliance can refer to a wide range of practices and requirements, this article will focus on applying these rules to websites specifically. Let’s take a closer look.

What is ADA Compliance?

The term ADA compliance refers to meeting the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that all Americans, regardless of disability or handicap, have full access to public services. This includes requirements ensuring that websites can be accessed and fully used by anyone with a disability that would otherwise make using the internet very difficult or impossible. 

In short, ADA compliance is the civil law that ensures that all areas of public life (including workplaces, schools, transportation, and businesses open to the general public) are fully accessible to everyone, regardless of disability. 

Who Needs to Comply with ADA?

So if ADA compliance is a legal requirement, who exactly is expected to meet this standard? The short answer is “almost everyone,” but let’s take a bit of a closer look. 

ADA compliance applies to:

  • State and local government bodies
  • Any private organization with more than 15 employees
  • Any organization that works for public benefit (schools, public transit, the US postal service, grocery stores, banks, healthcare providers, hotels, etc.)

The ADA covers a wide spread of businesses and services in the United States. Since the ADA covers all electronic and information technology (which, of course, includes all websites), almost all businesses and webmasters need to be aware of ADA requirements and make sure that their sites meet those guidelines. 

Lastly, even if your website doesn’t belong to one of the groups that require ADA compliance, it’s still very much in your best interest to make sure that it does meet standards. Even if you’re not legally required to comply, every website ultimately wants to reach and be usable to the greatest number of people possible, so ensuring that your website is welcoming to people with disabilities can only increase your web traffic and promote a positive image of your brand. 

What Happens if You Aren’t ADA Compliant?

Generally speaking, when a website isn’t compliant with ADA requirements, it’s typically a case of oversight rather than a malicious, intentional decision. However, regardless of the reason, failing to comply with ADA requirements leaves you and your business at severe financial risk. This risk comes in the form of potential lawsuits – if a disabled person attempts to use your website and aren’t able to due to their disability, they are entirely within their rights to sue you for discrimination. 

If you are ever sued for being non ADA compliant, you’ll be facing legal fees, the cost of a settlement or payments to the plaintiffs, and serious public relations issues, all on top of the suddenly added cost of bringing your website up to code. Businesses have failed for less, so there’s absolutely no reason to risk your livelihood by failing to meet these accessibility standards. 

Key Factors in Complying with the ADA

While we don’t have the room to fully explain how to comply with ADA standards here, we’ll merely introduce the most important ideas to get you started. 

According to WCAG 2 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), websites can be categorized into three levels of accessibility – 

  • Level A: refers to a website “accessible by some,” implementing only the most basic and necessary accessibility measures. 
  • Level AA: refers to a website “accessible by almost all users.” All of the most important and common accessibility measures beyond the bare minimum are in place. 
  • Level AAA: refers to a website “accessible by all users.” Every applicable accessibility measure is in place, ensuring that everyone can use the site, no matter what disabilities they may have. 

It’s recommended that most websites meet the level AA standard since it covers almost all the bases, and full AAA accessibility can potentially be almost impossible to achieve. 

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the specific ways that accessibility is measured in a website. 

Be perceivable: Users should be able to perceive any and all of the information on your site. For example, if a user can’t see text, they should be able to listen to an audio version, and if they can’t hear, videos or audio should offer closed captioning. 

Be operable: Users should be able to use and operate every aspect and tool that your site offers. 

Be understandable: Users should be able to understand what they see on your site. This often refers to providing instructions or explanations of tools or features. 

Be robust:  This last principle means that, even if your users depend on assisted technology to use your site, they should have the same overall experience as any other user. 

What’s the Next Step?

As we alluded to earlier, there isn’t nearly enough room in this article to cover every aspect of ADA compliance. There’s a lot of information that you should know to make sure that your website is safely complying with all necessary ADA requirements to avoid legal trouble down the road. 

That’s where KangoMedia comes in. We offer the best McAllen TX website design and SEO services, and we’re here to make sure that your website is optimally designed to keep you competitive and at the top of the search results! 

Whether you want to make sure that your site is ADA compliant or are looking for a professional team to build your website from the ground up, we have you covered! 

Check out our web design portfolio and request a free consultation to extend the reach of your brand today! 

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