A Comprehensive Guide to Creating an ADA Compliant Website
Would it surprise you to know that some big brands have been sued over website accessibility? Think Amazon, Burger King and Hulu. Companies that ignore website ADA accessibility issues are setting themselves up for lawsuits. But they’re also missing out on revenue, as per the following statistics.
ADA Web Compliance Statistics
- An estimated 1.3 billion people – or 1 in 6 people worldwide – experience significant disability. (WHO 2022)
- Globally, the market that includes people with disabilities as well as their family, friends, and advocates is estimated to control over $13 trillion in annual disposable income. (The Return on Disability Group, 2020)
- 75% of Americans with disabilities report using the internet on a daily basis. (Pew Research Center, 2021)
- In 2020, over 2,500 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal courts. This represented a 12% increase from 2019. (Seyfarth, 2021)
Public- and private-sector construction projects must meet ADA Title II and III requirements to make them accessible to those with disabilities. While the ADA doesn’t clearly address the question of web accessibility, our websites are often considered as part of our businesses.
Some 25% of U.S. adults live with disabilities
Many websites lack accessibility features. That means millions of Americans are struggling to use the web—that’s a lot of missed opportunities. ADA-based web accessibility lawsuits are steadily increasing—there were more than two thousand filed in federal courts in 2019.
What you can do now to create a more ADA-compliant website
I recently worked on a client’s website to help it meet ADA compliant website requirements. There’s a lot that you can do yourself—you don’t need to be a techie. A lot of this is about improving the user experience, and you’ll also be boosting your SEO.
1. Add alt text to all of your images. Images and other graphic elements can be an accessibility barrier to blind users and those with impaired vision who often have to rely on assistive technologies such as Screen Readers.
Alt text fields are where you can key in detailed descriptions of images. With alt text, those with limited vision may not be able to see the image, but they will be able to see the description and understand what this image is contributing to the story. Alt tags are important for everyone—we’ve all pulled up content on our phones or other devices where the image doesn’t show up—but the alt tag still communicates with us. One more thing: Be sure and label your image file with more descriptive data.
A word about infographics. Some of these are very detailed, with tiny text that’s nearly impossible to read. Think about your audience as you create these. It may be that you want to break this down into several graphics or combine it into an infographic and a table or graph. Make it accessible.
2. Enlarge font sizes. People with low vision often can’t read small text sizes, and they have to use specific font settings when browsing your website. Offering an alternate style sheet with the ability to enlarge the font size without breaking your page layout makes it easier for them to read your content. Make sure your call-to-action buttons have a larger font size and are clearly visible to people with impaired vision.
3. Color contrasts become important. Color and contrast become important elements for those with impaired vision. Create a high contrast between the foreground and background.
Thin fonts—they’re hard for everyone to read—not just those with impaired vision
Reverse type—white text on dark background
Italics. Very difficult to read
Combinations like green text on red background and vice versa
4. Focus on keyboard navigation
Those who are visually impaired can’t use a mouse, so keyboard navigation–HTML links, buttons, and form fields have to be deployed to make your website keyboard-accessible.