How To Optimize Your WordPress Website for ADA Compliance (Hint: It’s Not Plugins)

  • 1.09.2021

Checking to see if your WordPress website is ADA compliant can be a difficult task for two reasons:

  1. You’re somewhat new to accessibility and don’t know what issues to look for 
  2. You’re not sure how to effectively resolve the errors that you’re aware you have

These two problems are the reason that 10 new businesses per day are being sued for not being ADA compliant. Whether you’re a business owner or an IT professional, getting your WordPress site to a place of compliance does not have to be too difficult.

In this post we’ll discuss:

  • What Does It Mean for Your Website to Be ADA Compliant
  • What Components of Your Website Need To Be Complaint 
  • Why Plugins Are Not The Best Option 
  • How To Ensure Your Site’s Compliance

Note: Our team has over a decade of experience in accessibility problems and has protected hundreds of businesses from accessibility lawsuits. If you’re interested in knowing how many accessibility errors your WordPress website is exposed to, take our Free Accessibility Audit or if you’d rather have one of our wordpress professionals evaluate your website, schedule your free consultation

What Does It Mean for Your Website to Be ADA Compliant? 

Having an ADA-compliant website means regardless of someone’s disability they are able to effectively navigate around your website. So if a visitor has impaired vision your website must accommodate them by having adjustable fonts, colors, and compatibility to screen readers. 

When an organization makes the effort to make their website compliant, it not only provides more functionality and makes their website more dynamic for a wide range of users but also has positive effects on their search engine optimization. 

While reading about accessibility you may have come across the term WCAG a few times. WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and abides by four main principles:

  • Perceivable 
  • Operable
  • Understandable 
  • Robust

Ensuring website compliance enables your webpage to uphold these principles and protects your organization from litigation. 

What Components of Your Website Need To Be Compliant?

Knowing the type of accessibility issues that need to be fixed on your wordpress website may seem as simple as accommodating users with the most common disabilities: vision and hearing. But what about neurodevelopmental disorders that are not talked about as much such as seizures and ADHD? 

Website compliance is a nuanced and complicated process and if it’s not thoroughly performed you could miss out on important errors, which leaves your organization vulnerable to a lawsuit. 

Despite the complexity of accessibility, there are a few key components that must be addressed in order to work toward website accessibility:

1. Image ALT Text 

Alt tags are used to accurately describe pictures that visitors with vision impairments wouldn’t be able to see. They are read via a screen reader so it’s important to write an accurate description of an image. WordPress has a section where you can place your ALT tag. Having ALT tags can also help improve SEO. 

While this is an easy task, it can become an issue if you have thousands of pictures across your website with no ALT text on them. 

2. Optimized Content and Colors 

Optimizing your website content is important for those who have vision difficulties because it allows them to adjust the size of your font to what’s readable for them and also allows for them to highlight certain words. For those who suffer from seizures, reducing the brightness of colors and having adjustable color contrast accommodates them and offers an enjoyable user experience. 

3. Screen Readers 

Screen readers do exactly that, they are able to read aloud the contents of a web page so visitors can effectively navigate around your site. It’s not enough to just have your content nicely formatted in terms of sentence structure, things like forms and headings matter as well. 

Two of the most common screen readers are:

  • JAWS (Job Access with Speech) 
  • NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access)

Having the structure of your content correctly formatted allows for screen readers to move through your content in an organized way that makes sense for the visitor.

4. Descriptive Links

When linking out to another website, the link should be accurately described and should let the visitors know where clicking on it will take them. Using text that says “click here” may be doable for someone who can see and further understand the context behind why they need to click the link. But for someone who can not see the context, external links should offer more information. 

For example:

  • Don’t say ”Click here to visit our blog article about accessibility” 
  • Alternatively, you could say “to learn more about how to make a website more accessible, read our accessibility blog post

These are just a few issues that reduce your site’s accessibility and can leave you at risk for a lawsuit, there are dozens of more accessibility features your website must abide by in order to achieve compliance. 

Why Plugins Are Not The Best Option for Web Accessibility

As you research, you’ll quickly find out that there’s no shortage of wordpress plugins that assist with addressing accessibility issues. ADA compliance plugins are designed to make website remediation easier by giving you guidance on how to correct them but no plugin can fix all accessibility issues. 

Also, for some accessibility plugins to work effectively will be contingent upon what WordPress theme you’re using, so if you currently have a theme that’s not compatible with a certain plugin you’d like to use, the plugin won’t run. 

Using a plugin for the remediation of accessibility issues only addresses them on the surface and not at a foundation level

How To Ensure WordPress Accessibility for Your Website 

The only way to correctly address all website compliance issues is to have a manual audit. Manual audits consist of accessibility professionals using an automated scan to first see an overview of all your accessibility errors and then manually navigating your website to recreate issues. 

After an accessibility audit is completed with a list of all errors on your website, accessibility professionals then work with developers to remediate all issues, ensuring that your website meets accessibility standards  and conforms to WCAG 2.1, Level AA guidelines. Not only keeping your website accessible to all disabled users but protecting you from serial litigation. 

Start Towards The Path of Accessibility for Your WordPress Website 

In summary, there are hundreds of potential accessibility issues your wordpress website could be facing. While plugins and certain widgets can be used as an accessibility evaluation tool to remediate some of these issues, they cannot address them all and fully protect your organization from a lawsuit. 

The only way to receive the maximum amount of protection for your website is by having a manual audit of your website. 

Our company – ADA Compliance Pros specializes in wordpress ADA compliance and has worked with dozens of website owners to ensure the effective remediation of websites and offer protection from lawsuits. If you’d like to know what errors your wordpress website is exposed to, you can take our Free Accessibility Audit and get started on the right path towards an accessible website.