In recent years, design thinking took a shift, and web developers, designers, and business people are starting to embrace ADA-compliant web design. You could be asking what is ADA, or how its compliance is achieved? ADA is the civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Hence, designing websites and applications that are difficult to use for those having visual, hearing, mental and cognitive impairments is a matter of the past.

Importance of Having an Accessible Website
The shift not only affects new entrants in the industry but also requires existing websites to be upgraded to meet the web accessibility standards. Therefore, if you have been operating a website that doesn't meet the ADA web design criteria, you must consider auditing your website as well. After the upgrade, traffic to your website will increase and you will be safe from lawsuits. Did you know that Domino’s was sued by a blind man in 2019 because the company’s website was incompatible with reading assistive software? The company lost the case.

Since web accessibility guidelines were introduced, many businesses including the biggest brands have adopted them. Websites represent the online presence of any entity. It should 100% represent the physical operations of the firm. This means that every website must be accessible to every individual including people with disabilities. A web designer must craft a website that serves all types of users. To achieve this, you must be aware of the ADA web design requirements and have a checklist to ensure that you have adopted all the necessary features. Want to know more? Keep reading.

ADA Compliance Explained

In the United States, 22% of the population has disabilities which presents a significant segment of the total population. The ADA (Americans with Disability) is a civil law that was passed to protect such people from being discriminated.

Why Is It Important To Have ADA Compliant Website?
ADA standards state that all places which are open to the public must eliminate all barriers that could block disabled people from accessing them. Websites are also considered as public spaces and thus, they should eliminate barriers. When the blind man could not order pizza from Domino’s website because the website did not have a speech feature enabled, he sued the company. In this case study, Domino's website had limited the blind's man ability to interact with the products and services of the firm. While ADA started in 1990, it was not until recently when it was incorporated in the technology niche.
Having answered what is ADA, and explaining its importance, perhaps you are wondering how to make your website ADA compliant. Here are few tips to improve and test the accessibility of your website.

Test your website - this involves running a website audit to find the strengths and the accessibility issues that need improvements. Running this test will help you start working on improvements based on the identified missing elements. Those audits can be run through special online tools but it’s always better to turn to a web accessibility consultant to make sure that nothing was left unnoticed.

Enable keyboard navigation - the keyboard is the most used input device for many internet users. On the other hand, web designers and developers often overlook the keyboard navigation feature. Most websites have no functionalities where users can navigate through their pages using a keyboard. Having it included would be the best way to improve the accessibility of your website.
Find a website accessibility tool/ solution to test your website. Do not rely on online tools because most free tools are not effective and will not help you reach ADA web design standards. When you recognize the area of improvement, some experts can help you handle that. Reach out to them.

Incorporate assistive technologies on your website. These include head pointers, motion tracking, speech input application, eye movement sensor, screen reader, among others. Always describe your images in text format.
Establishing an ADA-compliant website is quite a journey but when it’s done, the results will be worth it.

Author's Bio: 

I am a computer science professor. Being a tech enthusiast I keep close tabs on trends and will be glad to share and discuss the latest wrapups in the field with the community.