ADA compliance is one of the most important pieces to a website in 2018. As marketers, event planners and coordinators, it’s important to make sure that EVERYONE is able to access all of the awesome things we create – both in person and online. However, accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do, it also affects your business. Over 7,500 businesses have faced ADA-related litigation, and this number is growing. Luckily, so is our understanding of what we need to do to provide great online experiences for everyone alike!
What does it mean and why do we need it?
ADA compliance is about making your website accessible to EVERYONE. In theory, this sounds simple, but in practice it can be a bit confusing. That’s why it’s best to get started with compliance before your website is even built. Here at Saffire, we keep ADA Compliance in mind from the very beginning.
Why? Think about this: Nearly 1 in 5 Americans have a disability. Since the internet is used for all kinds of important things these days, like registering for services or paying bills online, it’s important that every member of our society has the same access to things they need. Plus, it makes it much easier for them to find information about your organization!
Here are the first six steps to making your website ADA compliant:
- Write Better Link Text
Each link should make sense when read by itself. Provide context and avoid using phrases like “click here” or “continue.” Instead, say things like “read the article” or “tickets here.” Avoid long URLs, and if an image is the only thing within a link, make sure it has ALT text! Which brings us to…
- Use ALT Tags for Images
Add meaningful ALT tags to important images. That means images like logos (especially if they lead to your homepage), images that are links, images used as placeholders for text, or any other image that adds context to a page. The ALT tag gives context to people who can’t see the image, so make sure it makes sense! How can you tell if you have good ALT tags? Describe the image and get specific! What is happening in the photo? Who or what is in it? Where are they? Don’t repeat phrases you’ve already used in the text or caption, and don’t begin with phrases like “image of” or “in this image.” Take time to learn how to place and write good ALT tags. They’re important!
- Think About the Page Structure
People use your page design as a guide to find information on your website, so build your pages in ways that make sense. Utilize headers, bullets, blockquotes, and other ways of organizing your information. Always start your page with an H1 tag and follow the hierarchy for the rest of the headers (H1 > H2 > H3 > H4, etc.)
- Test Your Colors
Did you know that color blindness affects 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women? Together, that makes up more than 25 million people with color blindness in the U.S. alone. To make sure that color blind people can still understand everything on your website, it’s important that color is not the only tool used to organize information. Test your site using a free tool like the webAIM contrast checker to make sure your web pages are up to par.
- Caption and Transcribe All Videos
Every video or audio piece must have both captions and a transcript to be ADA compliant. Luckily, many tools like YouTube and Facebook now allow users to add captions to videos. Don’t forget to include a separate area to describe what is happening in the video, and always make sure that the video is accessible by mouse, keyboard and screen readers!
- Test Your Site
The best way to know for sure if your site is accessible? Test, test, test! There a few free tools online that can help you test the accessibility of each page within your site. Our favorite is WAVE. It can get a little pricey to check your whole website at once but testing sites like PowerMapper can help you get there.
Remember, accessibility is the law, but that’s not the only reason it’s important! Accessibility affects millions of people. Meeting compliance standards is a sure way to provide the best user experience for everyone.