“The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” —Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
Websites are meant to be a place for you to connect with your audience and give a glimpse of the heart and soul of your organization. However, a website is only effective if it can reach everybody. That’s where ADA compliance comes in.
People with disabilities may need to communicate in different ways than somebody without a disability. ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to guidance from ADA.gov on web accessibility:
“Inaccessible web content means that people with disabilities are denied equal access to information. An inaccessible website can exclude people just as much as steps at an entrance to a physical location. Ensuring web accessibility for people with disabilities is a priority for the Department of Justice. In recent years, a multitude of services have moved online, and people rely on websites like never before for all aspects of daily living.”
Accessibility concerns are not just for specific organizations; they affect everyone who has a website, including both nonprofits and businesses. The most important question becomes—how can you make sure you’re opening up your website to everybody, including those who need to communicate in a different way? Let’s explore what website accessibility means and some measures you can take to ensure your site is accessible.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility means that anyone can access, read, understand and use your website content. Guidelines exist so that our websites can serve all audiences without discrimination.
The Department of Justice has consistently deemed that the ADA’s requirements apply to accessibility of website pages. Your website must be accessible and usable by people with disabilities if it’s for use by the public. That encompasses most website pages!
How do I ensure website accessibility?
Many sites have adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to ensure website accessibility. These are a standardized set of guidelines that outline specific actions you can take with three levels of compliance (minimal, acceptable and optimal). Some key features you’ll want to implement for web accessibility are:
- Include closed captioning on videos for those with hearing impairment or disabilities. This can also benefit individuals in public places who are unable to use sound.
- Provide alt-text descriptions of images and graphics which are announced by screen readers for those who have sight impairments or disabilities.
- Make sure navigation is easy to understand. Enabling keyboard navigation shortcuts is especially helpful for those who may be unable to use a mouse. Our responsive themes have a “skip to main content” link available for keyboard and screen reader users. It’s the first link in the content and appears when tabbing into the page.
- You can also use headings to organize and structure content, making it easier to navigate and comprehend.
- Make your forms easy to use and understand. Always include a field label for each field, and update your submission buttons to include text outlining the result (e.g., “apply now”).
Use the POUR method.
When in doubt, the WCAG outlines a simple method you can use to ask yourself about accessibility using the acronym “POUR.”
- Perceivable. Is the content easily perceivable for all individuals?
- Operable. Can those with disabilities easily navigate your website?
- Understandable. Is all of your content easy to understand?
- Robust. Your website should include content that can be interpreted by various platforms and tools, such as those that help individuals with sight or hearing impairments.
Website accessibility helps all potential website visitors have a good user experience. If you’re looking for a solution that ensures access, our newest nonprofit website designs are built with accessibility in mind. That means you don’t have to worry about overhauling your website or the code running your web design. We’ve got you covered!
We’re also proud to offer accessibility consults for businesses and organizations alike. One of our certified accessibility experts can help review your website and supply a report to identify issues and provide recommendations to improve accessibility.