The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a very important part of today’s society. It states that businesses and public buildings must provide the same access to programs, materials, and buildings for everyone. With more and more shopping options popping up online, the idea has also started to apply to eCommerce shopping options too.
Business owners need to be aware about the need for providing accessibility options for individuals who need them while shopping online. Lawsuits have been emerging in the last few years against some big-name companies, including Foot Locker, Toys-R-Us, and Brooks Brothers because these companies had not thought about making their websites ADA compliant. Here’s a general look at ADA compliance and how to make sure your business is following the ADA compliance website checklist.
When thinking about how to design your website for ADA compliance, you also need to understand the types of technology available. Certain accessibility options need special consideration when designing a page. For example, a screen reader turns visual content into an auditory track, reading out loud any text on the page. Those using a screen reader to navigate your site might not be able to skip parts of the navigation, meaning if you have a 20-minute story on something completely unrelated to the topic, your readers may be stuck listening. Designing your page to be simple and streamlined can help those using these technologies better navigate your ADA compliant website.
Accessibility technology can help users compensate for a variety of abilities. From visual loss to hearing impairment, it can be hard to navigate online without these senses. There are multiple types of technologies available today to help users work around the loss of one or more senses. These technologies are:
- Screen readers. This technology reads the visual aspects on the screen out loud for the customer.
- Screen magnification software. Magnifies the text or other visual elements on the screen.
- Refreshable Braille display. The display uses a combination of plastic pins to create the feel of Braille, allowing a user to translate the site into Braille for easy reading.
Each of these technologies requires extra pieces added to your website to make them work properly. Without these extras, your site is not an ADA compliant website. Taking the time to add these options can make a huge difference for users, and Forix can help you make that happen.
Ask Your Users
One way to learn more about your customers is by asking them for feedback. Find out how you can improve your website to help their customer experience. If you ask, customers will know you are trying to reach out and help with their needs. Shoppers always appreciate a personalized experience where someone takes the time to care for their needs.
You can learn all kinds of information, such as which technologies they are using to access your site. Once you have this information, you can tailor your options to their needs. But don’t sit around waiting for someone to complain either. Take proactive steps to get ahead of the game, turning your website into an example of an ADA compliant website.
ADA Compliance Website Checklist
Government agencies are especially careful about ADA compliance. Because everyone needs access to their websites, they have developed a specific checklist of points for pages to follow to improve accessibility. Here is a list of these checkpoints for your own website:
- Include detailed text descriptions for all graphics on the site.
- Provide an alt tag for all images on the site such as video files, PDFs, images, audio files, plug-ins, and more.
- Direct users to accessibility options by adding links to the page.
- Flashing images or strobe effects can cause negative health effects, so don’t use them on any pages.
- Images that also a link to another page must have an alt tag that accurately describes the destination of the link.
- Video files need captions for the hearing impaired.
- Alt tags should describe the object as if the user cannot see the item. Screen readers will read them aloud this way.
- Graphics that are only for decoration and have no purpose should have a blank alt tag.
- Use the LABEL element for form controls that require text input.
- Audio files need descriptions.
- Row and column headers on any data tables must be properly defined. If the table is only for layout purposes, leave any headers blank.
- Add a transcription for text files within the page.
- All cells in the table must fall under the correct headers and columns.
- Media downloads need to have links.
- Navigate to the Image Map with alternate links.
- Area tags must contain an alt attribute.
- Java-related files must be accessible from the adaptive technology.
- Use field labels for any special instructions on the page.
- Don’t embed your videos on the page. Instead, have a link to their source.
- Use the title attribute when text is not available.
- Make sure any form fields are in a logical order.
- For easier access, include an option or a button to skip the navigation.
These small points may seem insignificant to those who don’t use accessibility technology, but they can make a huge difference for someone who needs them. Keeping in line with ADA website compliance and checking these points off the list will make your website much more accessible to everyone who wishes to shop online.
Forix Can Build Your ADA compliant Website
Not sure where to start? Forix has all the tools and the knowledge to help build your ADA compliant website. We will look at your design and make it work with accessibility technology, giving your customers a streamlined experience. Get in touch with Forix today.