What is ADA & How to make your website ADA compliant?

Design Team
Jun 3, 2022
mins read

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

ADA = Americans with Disabilities Act. It is a non-discrimination law in the U.S.A that prohibits discrimination against individuals with any form of disability and ensures these people have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. To tell if a website is ADA compliant, it must accommodate all forms of disabled users.

The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability.

Which businesses are required to comply with the ADA?

The first thing to understand about the ADA is which businesses are required to comply. Under Title I of the ADA, any business with at least 15 full-time employees that operates for 20 or more weeks every year is covered by the law.

Under Title III, businesses that fall into the category of “public accommodation,” such as hotels, banks and public transportation, are also required to comply. That means the entirety of the law applies, from physical considerations to digital accommodations.

If your business falls under either Title I or Title III of the ADA and you do not believe you are compliant, consult with a disability lawyer to explore your options.

What is WCAG?

While the ADA doesn’t offer set guidelines for website compliance, many organizations follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG - https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/). This isn’t a legal requirement, rather a reference point for organizations looking to improve their digital accessibility.

There are three versions of WCAG: 1.0, 2.0 and 2.1. Version 2.0 replaced version 1.0, while 2.1 exists as an extension of 2.0. There are also three levels of conformance: A (bare minimum level of accessibility), AA (target level of accessibility meeting legal requirements) and AAA (exceeds accessibility requirements).

​​WCAG 2.0 Level A: Minimal compliance

Websites that do not at least meet WCAG 2.0 A are impossible or exceedingly difficult for people with disabilities to use.

  • No keyboard traps
  • Navigable with a keyboard
  • Non-text content alternatives
  • Video captions
  • Meaning is not conveyed through shape, size, color etc. alone

WCAG 2.0 Level AA: Acceptable compliance

  • Color contrast is, in most instances, at least 4.5:1
  • Alt text or a similar solution is used for images that convey meaning
  • Navigation elements are consistent throughout the site
  • Form fields have accurate labels
  • Status updates can be conveyed through a screen reader
  • Headings are used in logical order

WCAG 2.0 Level AAA: Optimal compliance

  • Sign language interpretation for audio or video content
  • Color contrast is at least 7:1 in most instances
  • Timing is not an essential part of any activity
  • Context-sensitive help is available.

Where do we use ADA?

We implemented ADA for some of our clients: A Restaurant based client, Vegetation management application and a learning platform domain. For those applications we covered all required levels which come under WCAG 2.0 Levels.

Tools we used to check ADA:

  • WAVE: Website Accessibility Evaluation Tool
  • ARC Toolkit
  • Color Contrast Analyser

Automated solutions can only detect 30% of WCAG issues. To protect your website from endless legal actions and to ensure all users can use your website, you must also have an expert in WCAG and conduct a manual test as well.

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