ADA Compliant Websites
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So, you have this beautiful website, up to date with a modern design and organized content, and you’ve invested in SEO so that Google can find you and drive visitors to your site, but for many visitors, that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to use it once they get there.
Image of world map. Circle graphic emphasizing 25.5 million, United States. Circle graphic emphasizing 285 million worldwide. Text: 2016 National Health Interview Survey Data. According to the Survey Data from National Health Interview, in 2016, 25.5 million Americans age 18 and older reported experiencing vision loss. According to the World Health Organization Data on Visual Impairment, there are 285 million people who are visually impaired across the world.
Although you may have a state of the art website, it may not be accessible to the millions of people with disabilities. Since your website is an extension of your business, any information, product or service offered must be accessible for everyone who lands on your site.
What is Website Accessibility?
The Rehabilitation Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) require that businesses and organizations that offer goods and/or services to the public must make sure that these services are easily enjoyed by those with disabilities. In recent years, this law has been interpreted to apply to all web-based and electronic content as well, requiring that websites be easily accessible for those who are blind or have low vision.
How can a website be compliant with the ADA?
In order to be in compliance with the ADA, users with disabilities must be able to use assistive technology such as screen readers to access information on websites. This screen reader software reads the content on webpages to users who are blind or have low vision. The code that is "behind the scene" of your website must be compatible with screen reader technology and also allow a user to navigate your website using a keyboard instead of a mouse. Disabled users who have hearing loss should be able to read all of the content on your website.
Your website lacks accommodations when it doesn’t allow visually impaired individuals who use screen reader software, braille displays or any other assistive device to access the content on your site.
5 Reasons Why Your Website Should Be ADA Compliant
1. You Are Likely
Internet shopping has enhanced the quality of life for many people with disabilities because of convenience, considering most have limited ability to travel. As of 2015, there were approximately 285,000,000 people who are visually impaired. This does not include other disabilities that could hinder users from shopping online. That is a lot of potential customers. Statistics show that 71% of web users with a disability leave sites that have no accessibility.
2. It Can Increase
ADA Compliance and Search Engine Optimization complement each other very well. Getting your website in compliance could help you get favorable rankings with Google and other major search engines. One of the primary requirements for accessibility is to ensure there is descriptive text for images and transcripts for video and audio files. This gives Google more information to match with keyword searches, which increases the chance of pages on your website to be returned in search results.
3. You Can Increase Your Business Credibility
Your website is an extension of your business and represents who you are as an organization or service. Your brand will gain more credibility when you are able to demonstrate that you aim to serve everyone without discrimination. Many accessibility features help your website be much easier to navigate. Having an accessible website not only serves users with a disability, but it makes the user experience better for everyone who lands on your site.
4. You Could Qualify for a Tax Rebate
Small businesses may take an annual tax credit for making their businesses accessible to persons with disabilities. Section 44 of the U.S. IRS tax code gives qualifying small businesses a 50% tax rebate for expenses incurred while making their businesses more ADA Compliant. Please contact your accountant for more information.
Learn more from the U.S. Department of Labor
Claim the Disabled Access Credit on IRS Form 8826
5. You Can Avoid a Lawsuit
Unfortunately, some people and law firms they hire are making money by filing lawsuits against businesses whose websites are not compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) standards. More importantly, a major legal precedent has been set with the ruling against the national grocery chain, Winn Dixie.
Moreover, several Federal judges are finding that:
“(1) websites are subject to the ADA, regardless of whether the goods and services are offered online and in physical locations; and"
"(2) courts don’t need agency regulations setting a standard for website accessibility to decide whether a website violates the ADA.”
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Lawsuits are being filed regularly and many more are expected.
Business owners threatened with lawsuits are obligated to pay for an attorney, pay to fix their website, and likely pay additional fees to settle the case out of court. It is expensive, stressful and time-consuming. Businesses large and small are being targeted. The minimum average costs associated with these lawsuits is around $50,000. Larger companies have incurred expenses from $100,000 to $6,000,000.
News Articles on ADA Compliance
The New York Post
How Do I Know If My Website Is Compliant?
In order for your website to be compliant, it needs to be accessible to people with disabilities such as blindness, low vision, and hearing loss. The visually impaired need to be able to successfully navigate business websites using screen reader technologies which audibly read the web page content to the user. The hearing impaired should be able to read content from video and audio files. Unfortunately, most websites are not designed to use the technology necessary for their content to be accessible to these individuals.
Here are a few other accessibility requirements:
- All images on the website must have alternate text that can be read by screen reader software.
- Audio-only or video content includes text transcripts or descriptions.
- Appropriate links to media players are provided if required to view content.
- All headings on the pages are placed in logical order.
- The content presented does not rely solely on color.
- The site can be navigated using the keyboard.
- The focus of the keyboard is never stuck on one particular page element.
- No rapidly flashing colors are on the site and there are no strobe lights.
- Keyboard uses skip navigation to quickly access content.
- Each page's language is portrayed in code.
- The user is informed of an invalid form input.
- Screen reader software is able to read labels and legends on forms.
Download our ADA Flyer
Did your website pass the test?
If so, great news!
If not, the PD/GO team can help.
Using the PD/GO System Version 4, we can create an alternate version of your website that adheres to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). We will do everything we can using the available tools and standards. We strongly suggest that you be proactive on this issue. Getting your website in compliance now will help prevent your website from being a target for attorneys.
We are ready to help.
Meet Devin Prater, our Website Accessibility Specialist
Devin Prater is a great asset to PD/GO and its clients as we keep up with the latest guidelines to develop websites that are compliant with the American Disabilities Act. Devin happens to be blind and uses assistive technologies such as screen readers and his extensive knowledge of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines to make sure websites meet those guidelines, allowing them to be used by everyone. He tests websites with the following operating systems and screen readers: macOS - Voiceover; iOS - VoiceOver, Windows - NVDA and Narrator. He enjoys exploring many different types of technology. He is JAWS Certified, an Assistive Technology Instructor, and a Technical Assistant in the Assistive Technology department of E. H. Gentry, a part of AIDB.
Learn more about Devin
Devin grew up in Hollywood, Alabama, but was raised at the Alabama School for the Blind, where he stayed for most of his life. After graduating with a High School diploma, he spent a year at the Gentry Technical Facility, rounding out his Assistive Technology training, Mobility skills for walking places using a White Cane, and Independent Living skills. He then went to World Services for the Blind, in Arkansas, to acquire an Assistive Technology Instructor certification, Completing that in 2017. Now, alongside reviewing sites for ADA compliance, he is at Gentry once again, this time as a "student worker" in the Assistive Technology Department.
Devin believes that sites shouldn't just "check the boxes" of ADA compliance, but should be an easy and first-class experience for those who rely on accessibility tools, as it is for those who have sight. To this end, he diligently checks websites for not only links and images with wrong or missing labels, but also alerts his coworkers to misspellings in the text, which users of text-to-speech programs will readily notice, and gives other advice on the presentation of the ADA-compliant websites which he reviews. Devin hopes that his efforts will not only allow PD/GO customers to avoid lawsuits, but gain disabled customers who may be interested in the services or information offered by the site.
Devin is a quiet person who can usually be found on his Windows computer, MacBook, or iPhone playing games, video or audio, reading, listening to music, or messaging friends, always wearing headphones so as to not disturb anyone else, and to keep his privacy.
When he isn't partaking of technology, he enjoys partaking of food, spending time with friends or family, or simply relaxing, contemplating, or sleeping.
Examples of PD/GO Accessible Websites:
Look for the link at the top of each website to view the accessible version.
Get your website in compliance now!
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