Your website is the tool through which you connect with all of your customers. Accessibility is key for ensuring that customers have equal ability to access your website, regardless of their personal capabilities. ADA compliance doesn’t just help ensure that your website meets the right standards for legal compliance. It also helps you connect with more customers.
Zen Agency is here to help.
A Look at ADA Compliance
What does it mean to be ADA compliant? In your physical business, that means everything from ensuring that customers have equal bathrooms to designing your physical store in a way that is accessible to everyone. Online, that means addressing several key concerns to ensure that all users can easily connect and interact with your website.
An ADA-compliant website is:
Easy to Navigate
On an ADA-compliant website, tools are in the user’s hands regardless of capability. They can use the tools they have available, from keyboards to screen readers, to help them navigate your website and access the content there. Your shopping cart tools, menus, and links should all be easy to navigate from any platform.
Easy to Understand
In order to make your website more accessible to all users, it should be easy to understand how to access specific types of content on your website. The user interface should be simple, intuitive, and easy to use for a better user experience — not just for potentially disabled visitors but for all website visitors who might want to access your content.
Easy to View/Perceive
Not only do you want to use graphics and text that are clear and concise, but your website also needs to be equally easy to perceive for blind users, who may be using text-to-speech software to help navigate your website. In addition, you may want to consider clear text and graphics for colorblind users or others who struggle with poor vision but have some visual perception. To make your website more perceivable, you may want to offer alternatives to text, including both audio alternatives and assistive technology.
Easy to Interpret
Disabled users may use a variety of devices and platforms to access your content. Many of those platforms will translate your content from its existing forms. You want your content to be compatible with as many assistive technologies as possible.
Zen Agency Can Help
Are you ready to make your website more accessible to all users, but you’re not sure where to start? Do you need access to the tools that will help you design highly effective, ADA-compliant content for your website?
Zen Agency can help.
We have the tools on hand to manage all the elements of your website, including:
- Creating an effective, easy-to-navigate user interface
- Creating content that is compatible with a variety of assistive devices
- Enhancing navigation across your website, including navigation from the keyboard and speech-operated devices
- Improving readability and predictability across your website
Contact us today to learn more about how we can make your website more accessible.
The Benefits of ADA Compliance
Some websites, including those that offer public services that need to be accessible to everyone (including individuals with disabilities), must be ADA compliant. So must government websites. You may, however, want to make your business’s website ADA compliant even if it does not fall into one of those mandatory categories. ADA compliance can offer several benefits to your brand:
Make your brand accessible to everyone.
You may not have considered it before, but individuals with disabilities make up a percentage of your target audience. Those individuals may experience the same benefits from your brand as non-disabled individuals. However, if your website isn’t accessible, many of those customers will choose to turn to another source for their needs in your industry.
Customer service starts before consumers make a purchase.
Customer service begins the moment consumers connect with your brand. Your website may be the first experience your customers, especially your disabled customers, have with your business. If you offer them an excellent, accessible experience, they’ll be more likely to think positively of your brand. They’ll also know that you’re willing to go the extra mile for them, which can help improve their overall opinion of your brand even before they get ready to make a purchase.
Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your brand to others.
Satisfied customers, regardless of their ability level, are more likely to recommend your brand to friends and family members. When they have a positive experience with your brand, your disabled customers will be more likely to recommend you to others — and that can, over time, significantly increase your customer base.
Your regularly-abled customers may also benefit from ADA accommodations.
You never know when the ADA accommodations you make for potentially disabled customers will help enhance your website experience for other customers, too. Keyboard accessibility can benefit busy working parents who might only have one hand to use while accessing your website. Compatibility with speech programs or clear visual elements can make navigating your website easier for many customers, not just those with disabilities. By offering enhanced accessibility for all of your customers, you may offer benefits that can help increase customer satisfaction regardless of their ability levels.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) offer three levels of compliance based on how much your website complies with those standards.
A: Bare Minimum Accessibility
At Level A, your website meets the lowest level of accessibility standards. It includes accessibility standards for:
- Pointer gestures
- Pointer cancellation
- Label in name
- Motion actuation
- Character key shortcuts
AA: Mid-Level Accessibility
At Level AA, your website will meet accessibility and compliance standards at a slightly higher level. It will meet all the standards set forth for Level A as well as standards for:
- Identification of input purpose
- Non-text contrast
- Content on hover or focus
- Text spacing
- Status messages
AAA: High-Level Accessibility
At AAA, your website is not necessarily 100% accessible for all customers at all levels of ability. However, it will be accessible to most individuals who need to access your website. In addition to the standards set forth for A and AA certification, websites that meet AAA standards will meet accessibility requirements for:
- Identify purpose
- Animation from interactions
- Target size
- Concurrent input mechanisms
Accessibility guidelines change on a regular basis, and you want your website to remain in ADA compliance regardless of how those guidelines have changed and adapted. Working with Zen Agency will help keep your website up to the latest standards, even as those standards adapt in light of changing technology and increased awareness of the issues that disabled individuals may face when trying to use common services.
The Basics of ADA Accessibility
When consumers access your website, they should be able to perceive the information provided on it, from the basic components of the interface to the information offered to your clients, in a way that is perceivable to them. This may include:
- Text alternatives
- Alternatives for time-based media
- Overall adaptability
- Easily distinguishable content (that is, content that is easy to tell apart from other information or graphics provided on the page)
Operability ensures that the website is easy for all users, including those who may have differing capabilities, to operate. In general, this means that the website offers basic functionality through:
- Keyboard accessibility
- Adjustable timing
- Content that does not cause seizures, migraines, or other physical reactions in users, based on known challenges and standards
- Easy-to-navigate content and function
- Easy inputs and functions from the keyboard
To make content understandable, you must make it clear, readable, and easy for users to interpret. In general, that means that the content must be:
- With an easy-to-identify target language
- Easy to avoid potential mistakes with
Robust content doesn’t just mean that you provide the high quality and standard of content you provide to all users. It also means that content is easy to interpret by a variety of devices. This includes compatibility with those devices, including assistive technology. Most notably, it means that content must:
- Include clear parsing
- Clearly show the name, role, and value of all interface components
- Share status messages in a way that is clear and easy to understand
The level of accessibility your website must meet will depend on your target goal, including whether you want to achieve A, AA, or AAA accessibility standards. At Zen Agency, we can help ensure that your business’s website meets the standards you need in order to receive those credentials and provide a high standard of accessibility to all your clients. Ready to get started? Contact us today to learn more.
Do you still have questions about ADA accessibility and how it may impact your website? Take a look at some of these frequently asked questions.
1. What is ADA compliance, and how does it apply to my website?
The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, was passed in 1990. It prohibits discrimination based on disability. In general, it applies to employment, transportation, public accommodations, and access to government-provided programs and services. The ADA prohibits discrimination in many formats and helps increase the opportunities offered to individuals with disabilities. An ADA-compliant website is accessible to anyone who needs to be able to access it, including people who may have a variety of disabilities that decrease motor function, sight, or hearing.
With regards to websites, the ADA does not offer specific requirements that define compliance. Instead, most users turn to the WCAG, or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which establish a clear international standard that makes the internet as accessible as possible for individuals with disabilities.
2. How do I know if my website has to be ADA compliant?
In general, any business can benefit from an ADA-compliant website. An average of 20% of the traffic to your website could come from users with disabilities, including those who may need to use assistive devices in order to access the internet and your website. However, some types of businesses and organizations must offer ADA compliance and adhere to WCAG standards, including:
- Businesses with more than 15 full-time employees that operate 20 or more weeks every year
- Public accommodation businesses, including hotels, banks, public transportation, or other businesses that people need to use to go about their daily business
- Government websites
However, even if your business does not fall into one of those categories, you may want to consider the benefits of offering a website that is accessible to all users and can help them effectively navigate your website.
3. Does ADA compliance really apply to websites?
Yes. Websites, like any other service available to the public, must comply with ADA standards if the business falls into one of the above categories. They must also adhere to other ADA compliance standards. If you fail to meet ADA compliance standards, your business may face expensive fines and negative publicity.
4. What’s the difference between A, AA, and AAA accessibility?
In general, A-level accessibility is the bare minimum accessibility for your website. While it will make it possible for some individuals with disabilities to access your website, others may need some assistance to navigate your website successfully. AAA compliance, on the other hand, offers a high level of accessibility and will help many more users satisfactorily use your website.
5. Can I show off ADA compliance on my website?
Since the ADA does not have official compliance standards, you cannot display official ADA compliance certifications, which do not exist, on your website. In some cases, you may want to connect with a third-party company that will “certify” that your website is ADA compliant. You may also want to make a note of how your website is ADA-compliant and accessible to all users so that users will know that they can easily access your website.
Keep in mind that there are no official standards for ADA compliance on a website, making it more difficult for you to establish what standards you need to meet and how they influence your users. Disabled users often already know that those official standards do not exist. As a result, they may not care as much about any official certification as they do about the accommodations you have made for them and their needs.
6. How do I know if my website is ADA compliant?
Working with a company like Zen Agency is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your website is ADA compliant. At Zen Agency, we have the tools to:
- Ensure that your business meets the necessary standards
- Test the accessibility across a variety of devices and platforms to ensure that users can easily access and use your website
We test every element of those compliance standards and let you know what level of compliance your website has reached. We will also offer options that will help you choose levels of accessibility based on your specific needs.
7. Are there easy ways to make my business more accessible for readers with disabilities?
There are several simple strategies you can use to improve accessibility across your website while keeping it simple and easy to use for all of your users. These strategies may include:
Providing suggestions when users encounter errors when inputting data.
Do you have a form that users need to fill out, especially an extensive form that requires a great deal of information? Encountering an error can disrupt the user experience and make it harder and more frustrating for them to interact with your website. Consider offering suggestions or highlighting the specific error so that users can move forward with their interaction with your website.
Identify the primary language for your site in the header code.
For users who need to use text readers to access the website, identifying the primary language inside the header code can clarify what language you have chosen and, therefore, how the text reader should function. This is especially important if the text reader’s primary language is not the same as the device that you use.
Offer text transcripts and captions for audio and video content.
Not all users can hear the sounds provided on your videos or sound clips. If you want to make the content in those formats more accessible, consider offering a transcript that will offer a user-friendly adaptation for your users. You may already be using captions on your videos; an average of 92% of videos viewed on mobile devices are watched with the sound off. Offering captions can also help users with hearing challenges keep track of what’s taking place on the screen. Meanwhile, text transcripts provide accessibility for customers with hearing disabilities. They also make it easier for users to skim through that text for specific content.
Use alt tags and alt text.
When you include images, video files, or audio files, you allow users with disabilities to access content that they cannot view in a traditional manner. These alt tags should include clear descriptions of the content contained within images or videos. Alt tags contain the information users need to understand the function that the image, video, or audio file serves on the site.
Offer audio or keyboard controls for navigation.
Often, the easiest way to ensure that audio and keyboard controls work on your website is to ensure that you have a simple navigation system. You may also want to ensure that your keyboard controls do not contain “traps” that will result in a user getting stuck in a specific field. For example, if you let keyboard users tab to different fields in a form, they should not get stuck in a form that will prevent keyboard use.
Make sure your images are accessible.
Ideally, you should have no more than three flashes per second in your images. This can help prevent users from experiencing seizure or migraine triggers.
Make sure your website is as intuitive as possible.
Provide an intuitive website design that is easy to navigate from any device. Users should know how to use your website intuitively, without having to relearn how to navigate based on specific changes you have made. Instead of using unique interfaces or odd commands, make sure that your website follows the same general structure that users are expecting when they interact with you. If you do have unique features, consider explaining their use to ensure that they are accessible to all users.
8. What are the consequences of failing to make sure that my website is accessible?
If your website does not adhere to basic ADA compliance standards, you can leave yourself open to lawsuits. Sometimes, the only reason you have not yet faced a lawsuit is simply that the right user has not yet attempted — and failed — to use your website. ADA lawsuits are often incredibly costly. As part of the lawsuit, your business may also be forced to comply with ADA standards. This can lead to the need for costly redesigns within a tight time limit — which may increase the cost to your business.
You may also face other consequences for failing to make your website accessible. First and foremost, you may struggle to bring in members of your target audience who suffer from disabilities that make it difficult for them to interact with your website. They may give up on trying to purchase from you or decide to pursue a purchase with another brand. Even if you later fix up your website, those customers have likely already developed loyalty to another brand. This may make it difficult to bring them back to your brand.
Don’t wait to strengthen your website with ADA compliance. Contact Zen Agency today to learn more about the importance of website accessibility and how we can help you design your website to make it more accessible to all the members of your target audience.
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