The primary goal of every blog or website is to provide information to people, but if the information is not easily accessible to everyone, then what is the point? Being ADA compliant can help you make sure the information on your blog or website meets the needs and is accessible to all your visitors.
- Did you know 13% of Americans age 12 and older have hearing loss?
- 26.9 million adults report they have vision loss. These people can’t see your product or service by viewing your website let alone read it’s contents.
- Around 19% of the people living in the United States are citizens with visual, auditory, and other physical limitations and disabilities.
By now you must know how important Website Accessibility plays in your journey to be a successful online business.
In this article, we will take you through all the key points of having an ADA compliant website, and how Play.ht can help you achieve a certain aspect of it by making your content accessible with state of the art Text to Speech audio.
What is ADA Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or ADA for short, requires that state and local governments provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of their programs, services, or activities, or would impose an undue burden.
That means, ADA compliance is vital for any company that does business on the web.
ADA compliance for a website means that your website or blog, is required and expected to ensure all its digital content is accessible by citizens with visual, auditory, and other physical limitations and disabilities.
As an organization that serves citizens, it’s essential to offer an accessible website, and one that provides equitable access to news, information, and local resources
By being ADA compliant, your website allows people with physical and mental disabilities to access the information it has to offer, allowing you to reach a larger audience and possibly opening the doors for more customers, and clients down the road.
Although the ADA does not specifically mention websites, the United States Department of Justice often refers to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and 2.1, created and promoted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
W3C developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make websites more accessible to people with disabilities, such as those with visual or hearing impairments.
So, when people refer to a site being “ADA compliant,” what they mean is that the site is “WCAG compliant.”
The 4 Key Principles of an ADA Compliant Site
If your website/blog is to be WCAG compliant or ADA Compliant, it has to follow 4 key principles. Each principle focuses on a list of criteria that determines the accessibility of a website.
- Perceivable: Everyone that visits your website should have the means to perceive all its information, like text, images, and video, whether directly or through an alternative option, like a transcript for a video.
- Operable: All website visitors should have the ability to navigate your site and use its features. For example, no one should have issues using your main navigation, search bar, or additional tools, like a calculator.
- Understandable: No one should have difficulty understanding your website and its content. Adding instructions for how to use a tool, for instance, helps everyone take advantage of your site and its features.
- Robust: An ADA-compliant website must provide all site visitors with the same experience. For example, if you create a video transcript, that transcript should include the entire video versus bits and pieces.
Focusing on these 4 principles or key points, will make sure your website remains widely accessible, and future proof.
Is my Site Non ADA Compliant?
A non-ADA compliant website is simply one that does not follow the principles of WCAG. In other words, non-compliant sites fail to be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
For example, using specific colors, fonts, and file types could render your website non-compliant with WCAG and ADA standards if they discriminate against people with visual or hearing impairments.
Furthermore, those with visual impairments may have difficulty seeing specific colors or have trouble reading smaller font. People with hearing impairments may find it challenging to enjoy videos on a website that does not have subtitles.
Dangers of not being ADA Compliant
As a company, if your website is not ADA compliant, you are in direct violation of Title III of ADA law.
Non-compliance puts your company at risk for lengthy and expensive legal battles. There were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts in 2018. That’s a 181% increase over the previous year.
An ADA lawsuit costs more than legal fees. It can damage your brand, reputation, and sales.
The Ultimate ADA Compliant Checklist
1. Headings and Titles
- Ensure all content uses relevant headers.
- Title all pages so that they relate to the page’s content
- Use citizen-facing wording rather than internal terminology
2. Text and Font
Color alone can’t be used to differentiate information. Instead use:
- Bold and italic text
- Use bulleted lists
- Feature areas or modules in your CMS
- Have a high-contrast color scheme
Avoid dense paragraphs of text.
Since tables are for data and not page layouts, be sure to populate tables with a column header and cell information.
- Always include alternative (alt) text
- Pay attention to the descriptive details such as the non-image visual
- All visuals need alt text, not just photos, so be sure to add alt text with icons, buttons, banners, logos, sketches, etc.
- Any visual element that conveys a message should have alt text
If there is no text to identify the image, a blind person’s screen reader could not identify the image. The user would not have any way of knowing if the image is a logo, link to another page or simply a stock photo.
Adding to that, provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms that people need. Examples of other forms include large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simpler language.
- Use contrasting colors to differentiate text from the background for colorblind users.
- Color cannot be the only means to convey information.
- Color contrast ratio: All text must have a color contrast ratio of 4.5:1 against its background.
- Websites should be navigable by both keyboard and keyboard equivalents
- Keep information in a consistent location
- Understand that if a user cannot find it he or she will assume it doesn’t exist
- Consistency helps users find information faster
- Screen readers move from top to bottom
7. Avoid Using PDF’s
Image-based formats are challenging to the visually impaired because they cannot be read by screen readers or text enlargement programs.
8. Enhancing your Media
Make images and video more accessible by adding audio descriptions to images, including the narration of changes in setting, gesturing, and other details.
In addition, add text captions for the deaf.
Making your content accessible with audio using Play.ht
Why limit your blogs, or website’s accessibility to only reading?
Play.ht allows you to create audio versions of your written content such as blog posts, articles, product descriptions, pdf, documents, etc. using some of the best sounding Text to Speech voices, and allows you to embed the audio recordings in your webpages using SEO & user-friendly audio player widgets that can narrate the contents to your audience, helping you to be ADA compliant.
Furthermore, Play.ht also provides plugins for WordPress and other platforms that offer a simple “click and convert” solution to make all your blog posts and articles accessible with audio.
Adding an audio accessibility feature to your blog, or website, is not only an innovative convenient way to let people consume your content by listening but is essential for visually disabled customers to get and experience your content.
The audio player widgets on this page are a live example of how you can make your articles and blog posts accessible with audio using Text to Speech voices. Text to Speech voices have only recently become extremely natrual and realistic that they can now be used by common internet consumer and not just reserved for the disabled. Hence by adding audio, you increase your reach and chances of your content being consumed by both – disabled and non-disabled people.
You can choose from over 260+ natural realistic sounding Text to Speech voices and can change the color of your audio players (catered towards users with color blindness, or have a difficulty differentiating between colors), add a custom message for users, and even add your own branding!
In the end, one shouldn’t underestimate the importance of ADA website compliance. People with disabilities have the legal right to equal access to your site, and it’s information.
An ADA Compliant site brings the following to your table:
- Impacts 19% of your citizens
- Increases site traffic
- Improves search engine optimization (SEO)
- Is a good legal practice
ADA compliance is a critical issue that businesses can’t afford to ignore.
With Play.ht, your website and content is one step closer to being ADA Compliant.