The 2021 Checklist for an ADA Compliant Website
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The Americans with Disabilities Act was created for much more than internet websites, but since it was created to evolve with the times, the range that it covers continues to spread. At its bottom line, the ADA covers all domains considered ‘places of public accommodation,’ language that showcases the act’s flexibility and exactly what makes your website fall under it. With the evolution of our notion of public spaces developing to include the internet at large, the ADA regulates web accessibility. Still, because many websites are created without a clear understanding of the act, many are not actually ADA compliant.
Side note: Not having a complaint website puts your organization at risk for a lawsuit if issues are not remediated soon. If you‘d like to see how many compliance errors your website has, take our Free Accessibility Audit and understand exactly what steps you need to take to keep your digital assets protected.
The law that dictates accessibility in the United States is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA states that if your content is not accessible, it discriminates against people with disabilities. A compliance checklist can help, but adhering to law should be more important.
Although the ADA does not strictly cover websites, it is so flexible that it encompasses web content and design. The Department of Justice and U.S. courts certainly interpret it that way. This means for you and your website then is that if you have anything commercial or marketable as content, you could be a target for a law firm with a keen eye for internet content.
Technical shortcomings are the first thing lawyers will look for, first and foremost seeking out anything that might have you in violation or falling short of the WCAG. If your website does not totally conform to the WCAG, you are not automatically in violation of the ADA. While there is no formal legal admonition for web accessibility, you could see litigation in your future: you may not be violating the law, but you do suffer a loss in the sense that you lose money, time, and energy in dealing with the fallout.
The ADA itself’s most concise guidance is an existing ADA Tool Kit for Website Accessibility for state and local governments and a supplemental Title II Website Accessibility Checklist, both easily searchable on the internet.
Closely examining the ADA and the supplemental documents can keep you from making any mistakes that could cost you in the future.
The first thing to consider once you start to assess website accessibility is to measure it against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or the WCAG. Because websites need to be optimized to work with any assistive tech you put in place, the WCAG helps you ensure that optimization by checking if your content is accessible to all users. Badly designed web content can not only stop users from accessing your site, but it can hurt business and create barriers between you and your customer base.
It’s important to prioritize accessibility, especially on sites for local governments, as their websites act as information bases for their communities and as a bridge for those same communities. Prioritizing accessibility has the following impacts:
WCAG has four main principles, each focusing on a list of criteria that assesses ADA compliance.
Following this criterion set by the WCAG is a good way to gauge your website’s ADA compliance.
This criterion for website accessibility is then further separated into three levels to break down the degrees of accessibility.
ADA website compliance boils down to ensuring all the aspects of your website- text, design, video, or audio- conform with the technical guidelines laid down by the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
There are multiple ways to make sure your content stays within the guidelines. Let’s go through the ADA compliant website checklist.
A good way to break down your website requires to break them down from the Level A and Level AA compliances. Meeting these accessibility requirements is crucial to keep your website ADA compliant. Your website and its content must be optimized for any assistive technology.
Level A has the basic requirements and sets the bare minimum of standards to keep your website accessible. The Level A requirements are as follows:
After this, Level AA requirements are a little more complex but are important to make your website content accessible. They might be harder to follow, but narrow down the ADA compliance requirements further.
Making your website completely ADA compliant can be an intimidating task and can take lots of time and effort. But it’s also completely worth it. Even if you get away with any misses in ADA compliance, you will end up settling and still having to make your website accessible if you get hit with litigation.
Another thing to watch out for is even if you get sued once, it doesn’t mean you’re completely free from it happening again- which has already happened to several existing companies. The ADA is a stringent liability law and allows very few mistakes and excuses for not complying.
To keep your website and your content from being targeted, take the time to make sure your website adheres to the long list of requirements. We at ADA Compliance Pros can help you with that. You can work with experienced, certified professionals who can identify all the liability risks on your website and provide cost-effective solutions for meeting all ADA requirements.
A great way to ensure your digital property is accessible is getting a VPAT. What is VPAT compliance? It is the process of documenting the accessibility of your digital property in an official template called a VPAT.
If you’re looking to ensure the full protection of your website from serial litigation, start by taking our Free Accessibility Audit or schedule your free consultation to speak to one of our website accessibility specialists.