What Is ADA compliance?

On July 26, 1990, President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. The purpose of this act is to grant millions of individuals with disabilities equal access to all public and private places, including websites. 

Why is ADA compliance important for my business?

By focusing your efforts on an ADA-compliant web presence, you’ll build trust with your potential customers, and an inclusive site is a sign that you care about your community and your company’s role in it. Compliance can also improve your SEO ranking, and is much less expensive than the court costs associated with potential litigation.

How do I ensure my WordPress website is ADA compliant?

1. Install an ADA-Compliance plugin: Check out the WP Accessibility plugin to shore up some of the compliance issues inherent in WordPress – enforcing ALT attributes on images and adding skip links, among others.

2. Structure and style your content to be readable: Try to keep content to 8-12 words per line by adjusting column widths and font sizes. Use media queries to adjust text for mobile devices. Keep a high contrast between text content and background colors, and avoid placing text over backgrounds with alpha transparency. The WP Accessibility plugin has a convenient contrast checker tool so you can try different color combinations.

3. Make sure you add ALT text to images in your media library: Save yourself some time and frustration by getting in the habit of adding ALT tags to your images when you upload them to your media library. Another advantage of adding ALT tags to the images on your website is it can also benefit your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking.

4. Carefully consider feature extensions and plugins: Adding untested third-party features to your website can work against your efforts to be ADA-compliant. Adding social media feeds from Facebook or Twitter can cause issues. Iframe applications can be difficult to integrate successfully as well. If your site includes videos, look into getting them transcribed, or try exporting YouTube’s auto-generated closed captioning feature.

5. Use clear and concise calls-to-action and navigation cues: Rather than have buttons or CTA link text say “Learn More” or “Download”, try more specific and unique language, such as “Learn More About Us”, or “Download the Application” to avoid confusing screen readers.

6. Test your site: Check your site’s ADA-compliance score with the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool, either as a browser extension available on Chrome and Firefox, or on the WAVE website at https://wave.webaim.org/. Note: Don’t panic if you see a load of errors. Sometimes these errors are global, and fixing them in one place will have a site-wide effect on your score. You’re going to want at least a WCAG 2.0/Level AA compliance score. Concentrate on fixing Level A errors, and do your best to address the Level AAA issues. 

ADA compliance can be difficult to navigate, and there remains a lot of grey areas in defining it. If you have questions, or trouble getting your site where it needs to be, feel free to contact me.