ADA compliance with websites is making the news again. As of this writing, only government sites in the USA (agencies, schools, municipal, etc…) are required to be ADA compliant. So if someone tells you your website needs to be ADA compliant or the Department of Justice will come after you, they are misinformed.
However, your business can be sued for discrimination if your website is not accessible. So what that means is that you’ve got to make reasonable accommodations to support folks that have impaired vision. For that, we recommend following WCAG (Website Content Accessibility Guidelines).
There’s a lot of information on WGAC so we’d be happy to review your site with our complimentary consultation. But if you want to do it yourself, here are two easy things that you can fix on your own.
Make sure all of your images have Alt Tags:
All images should have an Alt tag which is text that describes an image. This was especially critical in the 1990s when the World Wide Web was in its infancy and many people used text-based browsers such as Lynx. Yes, there was once a time when web browsers didn’t support images (and we had no idea what we were missing back then).
Since then, alt tags have been used as placeholders while images load, for SEO, and for accessibility. You probably have seen a site with a broken image and some text in its place – that’s an example of an alt tag. Alt tags also help with SEO in areas such as Google Image Search. So in general, it’s a good idea to use alt tags. Your alt tags should describe the image, so if you’re not sure what to put, here are some tips:
- If your image has text in it, use the text (like we do with our featured image on this post).
- Describe what’s in the image without editorializing the content of the image.
- Use keywords if they are appropriate – don’t keyword stuff your alt tags.
How do add an alt tag? It’s simple: just add
alt=”image description” to any HTML image tag. Most CMS platforms such as WordPress have this functionality built in. Just check the documentation for your website editor to learn how to do it. If you’re not sure how to add the tag, or if you’d like us to run a scan of your site for ADA compliance, then set up a complimentary consultation with us.
Replace PDF Files with HTML Pages:
While PDF files have become more accessible in recent years, they still require additional tools such as Adobe Reader. We recommend limiting PDFs to downloadable content (such as eBooks or brochures).
It can certainly be easier to just upload a PDF than to create a separate web page based on the document. This is especially true when the PDF document has a complex design that’s difficult to recreate in HTML. But if accessibility is important to your business or clientele, then you should convert those pages to HTML. If the PDF is complex, you can just move the text to HTML (which is also better for SEO) and keep the PDF as a downloadable item.
Wrapping it up:
Even if websites aren’t required by law to become ADA compliant, we see the industry trending towards making sites more accessible. So take a few minutes to take a closer look at your website. There are tools out there that will simulate a screen reader and tests that will scan your website for ADA compliance. If you have any questions, need help, or would like us to run a scan for you, please sign up for a complimentary consultation. We’d love to point you in the right direction.