Making your website handicap-accessible isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s the law of the land.
Is your website handicap-accessible? Did you even know that was a thing?
In 2019, the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a decision that held Domino’s Pizza liable under the Americans With Disabilities Act for publishing a website that couldn’t be effectively used by a blind plaintiff.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Dominos’ appeal in 2021, and there you have it — you can now be sued for having a website that isn’t ADA-compliant. I don’t want to scare you, but courts have since handed out damage judgments in the thousands of dollars.
So what is an ADA-compliant website, anyway? What makes it handicap-accessible? Here are some demographics to consider, and steps to take to address the accessibility of your website — for the sake of not only inclusivity, but also risk-reduction.
People who are blind, legally blind, colorblind, or otherwise visually impaired may have trouble experiencing your website visually. Here are some considerations to address to make your site accessible to people with vision impairments:
Font Size and Color Contrast. Visually-impaired persons may not be able to read small fonts on the screen. Consider using a font size of at least 16px for your body text.
Additionally, if the font color does not contrast with the background color, legally blind or colorblind persons may not be able to discern the text from the background color. Make sure you use text at least two shades darker or lighter than the background.
Form-Fill Errors. We’ve all skipped a required field on a form, only to see it highlighted in red. If that’s all that happens when someone incorrectly fills out your form, you may get in trouble with colorblind people. If they can’t see the color red, they may not know which field has the problem. Make sure to add descriptive text so they know what to do to submit the form.
Screen Readers. Blind persons may forgo the visual experience of your website altogether and rely on a screen reader — an app that reads your website aloud.
This has a host of implications. For starters, your site had better have a “language tag” in the metadata to tell the screen reader what language to read in, or you’re dead in the water right out the gate. Then your headers must be properly nested so the screen reader reads the site in a coherent order.
Your images and videos should have descriptive alt-text so the screen reader describes the imagery to the user. Finally, your links need to tell the user where the link will take them — ”click here” doesn’t cut it. Click here to do what?
Deaf and hearing-impaired persons obviously can’t interact with audio portions of your website to the fullest extent. For this reason, it’s important that all audio content be paired with subtitles, closed-captions, and/or body text so the user can access the content by reading instead of listening.
We forget how much UX relies on “point-and-click.” People with motor impairments like cerebral palsy may not have the coordination to point-and-click. Instead, they rely on keyboards to navigate websites. To be ADA-compliant for motor-impaired persons, your website should be fully keyboard-navigable.
Think you can stand out from the competition by adding flashy graphics to your website? Perhaps … but you could also trigger a seizure in epileptic persons that way. For their sake — and for the sake of not getting sued — take the strobe light effects off your website.
Becoming ADA compliant is just one aspect of establishing your business online. If you’re considering a digital transformation and don’t know where to start, reach out to us. We can get you started down the road to growing online — the right way.