Is your website ADA Compliant?
A website is the center of a company’s online presence and the doorway to their customers. Ensuring that doorway is accessible to everyone is not only the key to having more customers, but a practice that protects the company’s expose to ligation.
On July 26, 1990, the United States government passed the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The ADA prohibits discrimination of individuals with disabilities in employment matters, access to government services, places of public accommodation, transportation, and other areas of American life. The ADA required newly designed government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. On March 15, 2012, the United States Department of Justice mandated that all electronic and information technology be accessible to those with disabilities.
What businesses need to be ADA Website Compliant?
1. Businesses with 15 or more employees that operate for 20 or more weeks a year
2. Businesses that fall into the category of a public accommodation.
What does ADA Website Compliance mean?
The ADA guides businesses to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) put in place by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Therefore, to be ADA Website compliant, your business website must adhere to the WCAG guidelines. We recommend organizations adhere to no less than the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards.
Understanding the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
There are four components to the WCAG, Principles, Levels, Guidelines and Success Criteria. Within the four Principles there are corresponding Guidelines, for every guideline there are three levels and for every Guideline there is a success criteria to determine compliance.
All success criteria for ADA Website Compliance are organized into four Principles that lay the foundation for anyone to access website content.
Perceivable – Users can discern the information and user interface components being presented.
Operable – Users can perform all necessary interactions.
Understandable - Users can recognize the information and follow the operation of the user interface.
Robust – User agents can reliably interpret the content presented.
Each Principle has a set of Guidelines that address that Principle. The objective of the guideline is to ensure that the web content is directly accessible and capable of being presented in different forms to match different peoples’ sensory, physical, and cognitive abilities.
The levels refer to the level of impact to the design of the website.
A – Minimal impact to the design
AA – Moderate impact to the design
AAA – High impact to the design
The Success Criteria refers to the testable criteria that describes specifically what the website must achieve to conform to a guideline within a principle.
Beware, not all ADA Website Compliance Audits are the same!
Quick automated scan software solutions typically only cover about 1/3 of potential accessibility issues. Automated scans can give false positives, meaning by relying only on automated scans you could be augmenting your website for no reason at all. The best website compliance audits have a combination of both automated and manual accessibility testing. In addition, ensure that the firm auditing your website is using the minimum test requirement, which is WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
Scalesology Website Compliance Audit Process:
Scalesology’s website compliance audit process incorporates both automated scans and a manual process, ensuring identification of only valid website compliance issues, not false positives. Unlike other website scanners, Scalesology's proprietary evaluator software can crawl through an entire application and simultaneously test multiple pages for violations other scanners do not flag as an issue. Scalesology’s ADA evaluator software then feeds the information into a report builder, allowing a qualified professional to review and augment the false positives that fall outside the range of automatic testing and evaluate elements outside the framework of automated testing.
Scalesology's Website Compliance Audit Report ©
Scalesology’s ADA Website Compliance Audit © report takes a giant leap forward from a typical audit report by showing the overall proportion of Accessibility Guidelines that have passed versus failed based on severity.
In addition, the report shows (below) a summary of violations by WCAG Principle with severity levels allowing a report reader to quickly see if a website has many issues within a particular Principle.
A proper audit report, such as Scalesology’s ADA Website Compliance Audit Report ©, should show the compliance issue per the Principle, Guideline and Success Criteria tested along with the image and or code issues that are not in compliance. A detailed report allows your business technology team or a website design firm such as our preferred partner Autumn Consulting, enough information so that the web developer can easily find and fix the compliance issue.
For example, the screenshot below from Scalesology’s ADA Website Compliance Audit Report © identifies website issues from the Principle Perceivable within the contrast guideline. The audit report example shows that there are a few instances where there is a lack of sufficient contrast between elements.
Another example identifies website issues from the Perceivable Principle within the text alternatives guideline. The audit report example below pinpoints six instances with empty alt values but non-empty title values along with supporting artifacts
Why ADA Website Compliance is important?
Avoid lawsuits for noncompliance with the ADA. Lawsuits skyrocket from 814 filed in 2017 to 2,256 lawsuits filed in 2019. Before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the courts, plaintiffs filed 528 lawsuits by the end of March of 2020.
Don't limit the number of customers that can utilize your website. Ensuring that your business website is accessible to everyone just makes good business sense.
Many of the guidelines used when adhering to ADA website compliance improves the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your website.
Websites that satisfy accessibility criteria are more predictable and lead to more user engagement and retention as well as reduce the number of issues related to user support
Finally, it is the right thing to do.
Your website is the center of your company's online presence and the doorway to your customers. Why not ensure your website is accessible to everyone? ADA Website Compliance is not going away. Putting your business at risk for noncompliance doesn’t make a lot of sense. Finding the right partner to help you ensure your website is ADA compliant is key. Don’t risk a quick automated scan that will just cost you money without any legitimate results. Scalesology’s ADA Compliance Audit follows a rigorous 3 step process that ensures your website is WCAG certified and fully compliant. Contact us today and let’s make sure your website is accessible to all your potential customers.