Making Your Website ADA Compliant

Making Your Website ADA Compliant

One of the recent topics of discussion on our Listserve was the risk of not having a website that is ADA Compliant. But before we talk about this, let’s differentiate the meaning of the terms, website compliance, and website accessibility.

What Is ADA Compliance and Why Is It Important?
The law which primarily governs accessibility is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Even though this law does not mention websites (anymore), Title III of the ADA regulation has been interpreted by the U.S. courts to apply to websites.

Generally speaking, in order for a website to be ADA compliant, it needs to be accessible. Website accessibility can mean two things depending on this context:
1. The process of making your website so that its content and functions are accessible to people with disabilities.
2. How accessible your website really is.

There are now 38 requirements (including level A) labeled as the WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria as the standard which gauges whether websites are accessible. The buzz phrase which you will see commonly used by the plaintiff’s lawsuits is “effective communication” — and whether a website can stimulate “effective communication” for all readers.

With ADA being the legal side, being compliant with the law matters. If we throw in the fact that lawsuits about ADA issues are happening regularly — the concern is real and making a website ADA compliant is a priority for many business owners.

Most of the best practices for usability that web designers have been adhering to in order to translate into accessibility for disabled individuals, putting ‘alt text’ in the image tags and the added benefit of making sure that your site is more accessible to people who use screen readers.

How to Save Thousands of Dollars — And Reduce the Risk of an ADA Lawsuit
A little-known fact is that website accessibility is something that very few people know of. So, if you are new to this concept, you might see offers with up to $2,500 in fees for developers who claim to know what it takes to make your website “fully ADA compliant.”

Services like these are a hefty investment and the reality is that all you’re going to get back is a nice-looking PDF with suggestions on what to do. You would be paying for audits or automated scans — no matter how helpful they are, they are limited and only point you in the right direction.

To get a complete picture of your website’s accessibility, you need to hire an expert and review your site. Alternatively, you can start employing your knowledge after reading the guidelines or apply the common practice of installing a widget which makes things right (well, at least in the beginning).

Speaking of which...

Widgets for ADA Compliance in Minutes
As a relevant guide and authority in the field of answering services, our team at ATSI has been actively researching the field of ADA compliance and looking for the easiest ways to align with it.

The UserWay widget, which is free, allows you to make your website ADA compliant without refactoring its existing code. As the website itself describes it, UserWay is a powerful, scalable, lightweight and secure solution that can be used for a single website or multiple ones.

And the best part?

UserWay works through a widget that can be installed in seconds and supports all leading CMS (Content Management System) platforms as well as plain HTML/CSS/JS sites. It can instantly strengthen weak spots which might cause issues, barriers and accessibility violations — and make your answering service website more accessible and ADA compliant.

Another resource that is widely used is the Wave Evaluation Tool. It supports and evaluates web accessibility within the Chrome browser.

“WAVE is a web accessibility evaluation tool developed by WebAIM.org. It provides visual feedback about the accessibility of your web content by injecting icons and indicators into your page. No automated tool can tell you if your page is accessible, but WAVE facilitates human evaluation and educates about accessibility issues. All analysis is done entirely within the Chrome browser allowing secure valuation of intranet, local, password-protected, and other sensitive web pages.”

In Summary
If you feel that your website is at risk for meeting all 38 of the complex criteria in becoming ADA compliant — you should definitely act now.

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