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What is ADA compliance and why is it important?

The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that all people with disabilities receive equal and fair treatment under the law. This also includes digital mediums such as websites, which are now required to provide a similar experience for anyone who could potentially visit the site. These protections cover people who may be blind, deaf, or who have other needs that may require accommodation. 

In the same way that handicapped individuals must be legally provided with ramp access to enter a building, a person who is visually impaired has the right to voice text access when visiting your website.

What is an ADA Compliant Website? 

When it comes to meeting ADA compliance for your website, the rules are not exactly clear. Even so, businesses are still required to create an accessible website that will accommodate individuals who may have disabilities.

What Type of Businesses are Required to be ADA-compliant?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, any business with at least 15 full-time employees that operates 20+ weeks per year must comply with the law. 

Currently, businesses that fall under the category of “public accommodation” like hotels and banks must follow ADA regulations. Beyond making physical accommodations for visitors, these businesses must make digital accommodations as well.

Benefits of an ADA-compliant Website

  1. Increases your Target Audience – If your website is not ADA compliant, then you are missing out on millions of potential customers. If your website isn’t fully accessible, then people with disabilities who would otherwise be interested in your products or services will not be able to easily navigate your content. 
  2. Improves Search Engine Optimization – ADA-compliant websites attract more users and rank higher with search engines which can improve your SEO efforts.
  3. Enhances your Brand Reputation – Customers will view your brand more favorably because they know that you value their business.

How to Build a Website that is ADA-compliant

While there are no clear guidelines on creating a website that is ADA-compliant, there are actions you can take to ensure your website is more inclusive:

  • List alternative text tags for all media so that visitors to your website have a choice on how they consume your content.
  • Develop audio versions of written content so that blind visitors to your website can listen to the information.
  • Create a simple layout design for your website so that visitors with disabilities can easily navigate the content.
  • Include text transcripts to accompany audio and video components so that deaf visitors to your website can easily follow the content.
  • Install an error-free detection system that recognizes when a user enters information incorrectly and can offer relevant recommended solutions.

How you incorporate these measures will depend largely on whether you are building a brand new website or revamping your current one.

While the compliance rules for the ADA are up for interpretation, they may not be that way much longer. It’s best for you to get ahead of the game and put real effort behind making your website ADA-compliant. Otherwise, you put your business at risk for lawsuits, branding issues, and other concerns.

If you already have an active website, updating it to become ADA-compliant only requires changing and adding new code to ensure all users can easily navigate the content. If you’re creating your website from scratch, it’s best to take ADA-compliance measures upfront. This may be more expensive to do initially, but it could save you from dealing with bigger headaches down the line. 

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