The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that was enacted in 1990. The ADA requires public accommodations to be accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities. In recent years, an update has been made to the guidelines for web content accessibility standards and it’s important that marketers and other digital professionals take note.
Please check out the ADA Toolkit that outlines the government requirements for an ADA-compliant site.
In this post, we’ll review some additional ADA tips and what you need to know about how you can stay compliant when designing your website or creating online marketing campaigns.
1. Add ALT tags to all images
Be sure to include ALT tags on every image that you include in your content. The ALT tag helps to describe the image and it’s important for individuals who are unable to see images on the screen.
The ALT tag should be descriptive and it’s important to refrain from using general terms like “image” or “graphic”. Instead, describe the image so that readers will know what they are looking at when viewing your website.
Tips & Advice: If you have a site that has several images without ALT tags on them, try using this tool.
2. Check your color contrast ratios
ADA regulations are very specific about the contrast between text and background colors so marketers should start re-evaluating their brand standards to ensure there are guidelines that outline how colors should be used for text, buttons, and icons.
In your audit, if you find that your colors do not pass ADA, consider adding a secondary color palette into your brand standards.
If you are using a logo with colors that have low contrast ratios, consider different versions of your logo so it can be used on all marketing materials for maximum reach potential! This is especially important if the brand standards aren’t being updated regularly or don’t exist at all.
Tips & Advice: A great tool to check if your colors pass ADA compliance is Adobe’s Color Contrast Checker.
3. Check the size of your copy
The minimum size for text sizes on a website should be 16pts for readability. We suggest incorporating this same rule of thumb for print pieces as well where at all possible. In the event that you have a large amount of content, aim for font sizes between 14-16pts.
Remember to use sans serif fonts where possible because they are easier to read on digital screens and can help with legibility.
Tips & Advice: Here’s a fantastic article that goes into the nitty gritty of what makes a font more or less readable.
4. Use the correct order of heading tags
When creating content, your heading tags should be structured using proper heading tag order. For example
Always first is: H1
Followed by: H2, H3, H4 so on
The incorrect order: H2, H3, H4, H2, H1
The title tags must stay in sequential order.
Tips & Advice: If you are unsure if your site’s title order, use the HeadingsMap Chrome extension to give it a check.
5. Test your site with just your keyboard
While you may know how to use your mouse and keyboard in order to navigate around the web, if someone who is visually impaired when visiting your site, they wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without seeing what’s on screen. Test all items on your site with just your keyboard to see if you get stuck anywhere or if anything does not work. This will be a good indicator if your site is compliant or not.
6. Be careful of the use of character symbols
Screen readers have a hard time recognizing symbols like ‘&’ so when in doubt, type out the character. If you must use it, make sure there is enough spacing before and after it for screen readers to be able to read without any errors.
7. Check your videos for compliance
Videos should have subtitles and a description
To make your videos accessible to all audiences, it’s important to add subtitles. Subtitles are not only beneficial for those who have hearing disabilities but they also help with SEO ranking because Google can now decipher what is being said in a video!
Tips & Advice: YouTube will automatically add subtitles with their AI tool, however, it is not 100% perfect and some incorrect words can be placed in your video. It is best to put the subtitles on during post-production of the video.
Videos must have a play and stop function
Videos on your website should have a play and stop function to allow all users to skip through the clip if needed. A great way to easily add the functionality is to upload your video to Vimeo and/or YouTube and embed the video from there. This will also cut down on load time for your site.
8. Make your website links accessible
All pages on your website should have “skip navigation” links
The simplest method of making a skip navigation link is to include it in the standard text at or near the top of the page. The goal is to ensure that the link is one of the first things that screen readers perceive and that keyboard users reach by pressing the Tab key (typically by tapping it).
All call to action buttons and hyperlinks on your website should have a descriptive name
It’s important for readers to know what the link is taking them to before clicking it. Descriptive links are helpful for all users but especially those who are using screen readers or have vision disabilities because they can get a better idea of the content that will be on the page before navigating there.
9. Automate your website accessibility check to prevent missing critical accessibility issues
Website accessibility is a topic that often falls into the cracks because it can be time-consuming. You may even find yourself with very little time to do an in-depth check on your site and miss some of the most important issues! Luckily, there are new tools to help you stay in compliance.
Accessibe is a great plugin to allow you to stay compliant on the day-to-day issues that could arise.