Whether your digital marketing promotes a small, local shop or a large organization, the centerpiece of your program is probably your website. Most businesses invest a great deal of time, effort, and budget in optimizing its performance. Today, one of the most important and overlooked areas of good website design is ADA accessibility. If you have not yet considered this aspect of web development, there are some fairly easy steps you can take to get your website started toward compliance.
What Makes a Website ADA Compliant?
Assuring the accessibility of your website begins with adhering to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance standards. ADA compliance ensures that individuals with auditory, visual, and other types of challenges can access, use, and interact with website content. Following this set of guidelines will help you to be confident that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and navigate your content seamlessly.
Why is ADA Compliance Important to Google?
Compliance with ADA guidelines has the inherent benefit of ensuring all visitors to your website can interact successfully with your content. An additional benefit is that Google’s algorithm rewards ADA compliant web pages with better placement in its search results. On the other hand, when ADA compliance is disregarded, the risks of lost visitors and even legal consequences arise.
Below are nine steps to get you started toward a fully accessible and ADA compliant website.
1. Conduct an Accessibility Evaluation
Start by assessing your website’s current accessibility status. There are tools available, such as WAVE and Axe® to help webmasters identify accessibility issues. Look for things like text alternatives for images, keyboard navigation, color contrast, and proper heading structure.
2. Implement Mobile-Friendly Design
Make sure your website is responsive and functions well on a variety of devices and screen sizes. This is not only an accessibility requirement but also a factor that affects your search engine ranking. Google values mobile-friendly websites.
3. Prioritize Keyboard Navigation
Many individuals rely on keyboard navigation due to motor disabilities or visual impairments. Ensure that all interactive elements, menus, and forms can be accessed and used solely via keyboard navigation. Many users with motor disabilities rely on a keyboard to navigate the page rather than a mouse or a trackpad. Users of assistive technology, such as speech recognition software, will also typically use a keyboard for navigation.
4. Provide Alt Text for Images
Images are a vital part of web content, but they can be inaccessible to visually impaired users. Use descriptive alt text for images, conveying their content and context. Avoid vague descriptions like “car image” and instead use descriptive text like “car driving on an open highway toward sunset.”
5. Optimize Color Contrast
Providing high color contrast between text and background greatly improves readability, especially for users with visual impairments. Use tools to check color contrast ratios and adjust as necessary to meet WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards.
6. Create Accessible Multimedia Content
Provide captions, transcripts, and subtitles for videos and audio content. This makes your multimedia content accessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as those who cannot play audio. Platforms like YouTube offer automatic captioning options.
7. Ensure Readable Font and Text Formatting
Choose type fonts that are easy to read and maintain a proper font size. Avoid complicated typography, and ensure that line spacing is adequate. Break content into clear headings and subheadings, using HTML tags like <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.
8. Build Forms for Accessibility
Submittable forms are an essential communications tool for most websites. Design forms that are easy to navigate using a keyboard, and provide clear instructions for filling them out. Implement helpful error messages and label all form fields descriptively to clarify your desired intent to the user.
9. Make Website ADA Compliance an Ongoing Priority
Web accessibility is an ongoing effort for everyone who designs, develops, and edits websites. Smart companies ensure all stakeholders are well versed in ADA compliance and keep accessibility top of mind whenever website changes are suggested. Conduct frequent audits and tests using different evaluation tools to ensure your website remains ADA compliant over time.
Upright Communications Can Assist You in Making Your Website ADA Compliant
In creating an ADA Google compliant website, you will not only make your content available to a wider audience, you will also gain an important seo advantage in your Google rankings.
While considering the full scope of optimization and designing for accessibility may seem daunting, remember that the Upright Communications team is here to help. Contact us to discuss your digital marketing goals.