The U.S. Department of Justice has ruled that all websites for businesses & organizations which are bound by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), must also be “accessible”. This includes any businesses or organizations included in the ADA Title I & Title III.
There are currently no prescribed guidelines for what makes a website “accessible”, though there are a few organizations which have put forth proposals. The WCAG standards include over 30 “successes” required in order to be “fully compliant”, but the simple guidelines are:
- Create alt tags for all images, videos and audio files: Alt tags allow users with disabilities to read or hear alternative descriptions of content they might not otherwise be able to view. Alt tags describe the object itself and, generally, the purpose it serves on the site.
- Create text transcripts for video and audio content: Text transcripts help hearing-impaired users understand content that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
- Identify the site’s language in header code: Making it clear what language the site should be read in helps users who utilize text readers. Text readers can identify those codes and function accordingly.
- Offer alternatives and suggestions when users encounter input errors: If a user with a disability is encountering input errors because of their need to navigate the website differently, your site should automatically offer recommendations to them as to how to better navigate toward the content they need.
- Create a consistent, organized layout: Menus, links and buttons should be organized in such a way that they are clearly delineated from one another and are easily navigated throughout the entire site.
Businesses/websites that fall under ADA Title I & III:
Title I – If your business has 15 or more employees, working for at least 20 weeks per year
Title III – private and public entities that provide goods or services to the public:
- Stores and shops;
- Restaurants and bars;
- Service establishments;
- Theaters and hotels;
- Private museums and schools,
- Doctor’s and dentist’s offices;
- Shopping malls and other businesses, etc.
Website ADA Compliance Auditing
RedLotus Austin can provide you with a complete audit of your website, in order to help you find any possible compliance issues. Unlike other companies that only run an automated scan, we manually check every page of your site and evaluate every found issue, to ensure that your website is accessible.
Website ADA Compliance Audits start at $100/page, so get in touch now to have your site reviewed!
Website ADA Compliance Remediation
We can also help you FIX any accessibility issues that you may have. Knowing what’s wrong is only part of the battle, since you can still be sued at any time prior to having a compliant, accessible site. No matter whether you’re looking to get your website in compliance via basic accessibility methods, or you’re wanting full WCAG 2.0 AAA compliance, we can take care of it!
Website ADA Compliance Remediation starts at $250/page*, so don’t wait to get started on making your website accessible!
Website Website ADA Compliance Facts
- There are no defined guidelines or standards for what “accessible” is
- Courts have relied on WCAG 2.0 and the DoJ has relied more specifically on WCAG 2.0, AA Conformance for determining whether a website violates Title III
- The DoJ has said businesses have flexibility with implementing accessibility
- The DoJ’s September 25, 2018 statement confirmed that the important decision for businesses is not whether to comply with a certain set of guidelines, but whether a disabled person can access the company’s goods, services, and benefits through its website
- The Americans with Disabilities Act is a strict liability law which means there NO EXCUSES to non-compliance, including: “We didn’t know” or “We’re working on it right now”
- Even if you are sued or settle, you still have to make your website accessible
- Being sued once doesn’t prevent you from being sued by someone else
- Corporations with deep pockets are possible targets, but so are small businesses, since they can’t put up much of a fight
- It may be possible to have pending suits dismissed by completing accessibility upgrades prior to the court date
Web Accessibility Standards
In the absence of a single set of website accessibility standards, and in light of the DoJ granting flexibility of implementation, we have adopted the Web Accessibility Standards from accessible.org as our primary guideline.
The Web Accessibility Standards (WAS) is a non-technical bullet point accessibility checklist. WAS distills the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA into 30 accessibility measures written in plain English:
- Descriptive text: Clear, descriptive text is used for page titles, headings, and link anchor text. This text must accurately convey the page or content that follows.
- Nested Headings: For each page, headings start with one <h1> tag and optionally then flow down to <h2>, <h3>, and so on down to <h6> based on the hierarchy of subheadings within the page content.
- Color alone does not convey meaning: Color cannot be the only means used to convey information or instructions. If color is used, an alternative must be provided.
- Clear forms: Forms must have coded labels for fields, clear instructions on fields and how to fix errors, clear error indications, and example formats (e.g. 10/12/1980).
- Section labels: Websites should contain landmark and iframe labels to indicate and describe different sections and content.
- Uniform labels: All images and elements (e.g. icons, frames, fields) that are identical should have identical labels and alt text sitewide.
- Clean code: The website is free of error pages, broken links, and HTML errors.
- Zoom text: Text must be able to be increased by up to 200% without negatively affecting the readability of a website.
- Color contrast ratio: All text must have a color contrast ratio of 4.5:1 against its background.
- Distinctive links: Text links inside a body of text (not inside header or footer navigation menus) must stand out from normal text through at least two of the following markups: underline, bold, italics, color.
- Consistent layout and navigation: A consistent layout framework and header and footer navigation must be maintained throughout the website. Different layouts within a website are permitted (e.g. products page vs. information page) but respective pages within those layouts must be consistent (e.g. product A page has the same layout as product B page).
- Descriptive alt text: All meaningful images on a website must have alt text. Any images, charts, infographics, etc. that require over 30 words of description have a descriptive caption beneath them and alt text that identifies the image and refers to the caption.
- No images of text: No images of text are permitted when actual text can readily be substituted. Exceptions: logos, branding, graph labels
- Text transcripts: All audio and video files must be accompanied with a text transcript directly below the file. Text transcript must accurately convey the full meaning conveyed in the audio or video.
- Closed captioning: All video with meaningful sound contains accurate, synced closed captioning.
- Table data: If a table contains a large amount of data such that it would be difficult to understand when read aloud, either 1) an alternative version of the table is provided that breaks up the table into manageable columns and/or rows or 2) a caption is provided that accurately conveys the data. Both methods may be used.
- Extraneous documents: All documents such as PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, Excel files, Microsoft Word documents, etc. meet basic respective accessibility requirements.
- No automatic pop-ups: Unless to provide instructions or assist website users (e.g. how to correct an error, time limit warning), no pop-ups are allowed. Pop-ups of commercial intent (e.g. newsletter sign up, discount offer) are not permitted.
- No automatic video or audio: Video and/or audio may not play unless a user clicks to play the media.
- No unexpected changes: No part of a website may change unexpectedly.
- No blinking or flashing content: No content (gifs, videos, etc.) may blink or flash.
- Pause updating/refreshing content: Any content that automatically updates or refreshes (e.g. sports scores, scrolling news) can be paused by the user. Exception: rotating ads are permitted.
- Adjustable time limits: All but necessary time limits (e.g. auction bids) must provide a warning before time expires and the ability to extend the time limit by up to 8x the original limit before the time limit begins.
- Important submissions: For websites that require the submission of critical financial/personal/scheduling information (e.g. credit card number, social security number, reservation date, etc.), users must be provided with an opportunity to review and correct information submitted before finalizing the submission.
- Keyboard only: All functions and content of a website must be accessible by keyboard only.
- Focus indicator: A focus indicator box shows on all links and fields.
- Skip navigation: A skip navigation link is available at the top left of every page on a website. This does not have to be visible.
- Search function: A search function must be provided for, at a minimum, on the homepage. If placed on additional pages, the search function must remain in the same place.
- Sitemap: A link to a sitemap must be provided for, at a minimum, on the homepage.
- Language: A default language is set for the website.