ADA website design refers to the process of designing and developing websites that are accessible to people with disabilities. ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that was passed in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in areas such as employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. In recent years, the scope of the ADA has been expanded to include digital technologies, including websites. In this article, we will explore why ADA website design is important, the laws and regulations that govern it, and some best practices for designing accessible websites.
Why is ADA Website Design Important?
The internet has become an essential part of our daily lives, and for people with disabilities, it can provide unprecedented opportunities for access to information, education, and social interaction. However, many websites are not designed with accessibility in mind, which can create significant barriers for people with disabilities. For example, a website that relies heavily on images and videos may be inaccessible to people with visual impairments, while a website with poor color contrast may be difficult for people with color blindness to use.
By designing websites with accessibility in mind, we can ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to information and services online. This not only helps to promote inclusivity and diversity but also ensures that businesses and organizations are complying with the law.
Laws and Regulations Governing ADA Website Design:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the primary federal law that governs accessibility for people with disabilities. Under Title III of the ADA, businesses and organizations that are considered "public accommodations" are required to ensure that their facilities, services, and programs are accessible to people with disabilities. In recent years, the scope of Title III has been expanded to include digital technologies, including websites.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued guidelines on web accessibility under the ADA, known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These guidelines provide technical requirements for designing accessible websites, including requirements for text alternatives for non-text content, keyboard accessibility, and color contrast. While the WCAG 2.0 are not legally binding, they are widely recognized as the standard for web accessibility and are frequently cited in legal settlements and judgments.
In addition to the ADA, there are other laws and regulations that govern web accessibility, including:
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act: This law requires federal agencies to ensure that their electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities, including websites.
- The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act: This law requires that video programming that is shown on television is accessible to people with disabilities, including online video programming.
- The Air Carrier Access Act: This law requires that airlines ensure that their websites and kiosks are accessible to people with disabilities.
Best Practices for ADA Website Design:
Designing accessible websites requires careful attention to a wide range of technical and design considerations. Here are some best practices for ADA website design:
- Use descriptive alternative text for images: This allows people who use screen readers to understand the content of images on the website.
- Ensure keyboard accessibility: People with disabilities may not be able to use a mouse or touch screen, so it's important to ensure that all website functions can be accessed using a keyboard.
- Use clear and simple language: People with cognitive disabilities may have difficulty understanding complex language, so it's important to use clear and simple language throughout the website.
- Provide captions and transcripts for videos: This allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to understand the content of videos on the website.
- Use color contrast that is easy to read: People with color blindness or low vision may have difficulty reading text that is not clearly contrasted against the background.
- Use descriptive and meaningful link text: This allows people who use screen readers to understand where the link will take them before clicking on it.
- Ensure that forms and documents are accessible: This includes providing clear labels and instructions for form fields and ensuring that documents can be read by screen readers.
- Provide multiple ways to access content: People with disabilities may use a variety of assistive technologies to access the internet, so it's important to provide multiple ways to access content, such as text-based alternatives to audio or visual content.
What TWE can do for you:
ADA website design is important to promoting inclusivity and ensuring equal access to information and services for people with disabilities. By designing websites with accessibility in mind, businesses and organizations can comply with the law and ensure that they are providing the best possible user experience for all users. The laws and regulations governing ADA website design are constantly evolving, and it's important to stay up to date on the latest guidelines and best practices in order to design websites that are accessible to everyone. By following the best practices outlined in this article, businesses and organizations can create websites that are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. The Web Empire can provide you with many solutions and services regarding your existing or new website design. We recently partnered with the world's largest ADA compliance provider, Accessibe, and we can now cover 100% of the regulations, including insurance in case of a lawsuit and multiple other services, like monthly audits and custom solutions.