As companies around the globe try to bring the websites into compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (or for short, WCAG), their focus on other accessibility regulations has also increased. The US’ Americans with Disabilities Act, or for short ADA, is one of the most complicated pieces of accessibility regulations. In this article, you will be able to read about what is ADA compliance, what does it say about your website, and you will also learn if it is necessary for your site. Let’s take a look:
What is ADA compliance?
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was put in place in order to end discrimination based on varying abilities. Taking various parts from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which gave protection against discrimination based on religion, gender, national origin, or race, the ADA even went a step further and requested organizations to provide a good environment for their employees that are disabled. Let’s take a look at what the ADA compliance website means today:
ADA Compliance Website
The relationship with websites and ADA’s has often been a confusing and complicated story. It does not necessarily address online compliance, even after going through several amendments in the more web-focused period of 2008. Since there is no specific coverage under the law, the court usually determines how ADA standard apply to a specific website – if they do at all.
Title III of the act requires every owner, operator, or lessor of a place that offers public accommodation to provide the same access to users who meet the legislation standards for disability. In 2017, almost 1.66 billion people around the globe made online purchases, and you might think that this concept extends to websites as well, however, from the legal stance, there are a lot of gray areas.
Is ADA compliance mandatory for your website?
As you have probably guessed by now, the answer is no, it is not mandatory. This is due to the ADA rules not being clear on how and if the rules can be and will be applied to any existing website. However, it is still a good idea to act on the side of caution. A lot of states have implemented their own accessibility laws and the amount of accessibility-related lawsuits filed against various website has increased in recent years. Since the regulations are not clearly defined, for most companies, it is simply not worth to gamble in court since it is unlikely that they will rule in their favor.
Hence, without the regulations being set, how can you actually tell if your website is compliant? According to LITechAdvisors.com, there are three levels of ADA Compliance:
- Level A – this is the basic level of compliance. Level A compliance is focused on basic mechanisms that allow people to easily navigate the website, as well as ensuring that it is readable. This level is achieved mostly by implementing options to change the font size, color, and language.
- Level AA – level AA websites are designed with better accessibility features such as, text-to-speech mechanisms or text additions attached to non-text content. These websites often include other systems like error identification alerts and color contrast viewing options.
- Level AAA – this level ensures absolute coverage when it comes to accessibility for all disabled people. With the Level AAA compliance in place, the website is fully accessible for people with almost all kinds of disabilities. The websites include sign language mechanisms for all website multimedia content and it offers presentations in various formats to support different accessibility barriers.
Depending on the size and nature of your company, as well as the resources you have, you should aim for the highest level of compliance possible in order to ensure that all users who visit your website are able to access it and navigate the content easily.