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ADA

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Accessibility matters: How to get your ecommerce site ADA compliant

The golden rule of compliance is no more complicated than this: Make sure the content on your website is accessible to all.

In practice, however, there’s more to accessibility than the warm, fuzzy feeling of equal access. Consider color blindness, screen readers, how one might navigate without the use of a mouse or a keyboard, and whether components like popups might disrupt a consumer’s focus, and things get real tricky, real quick.

We’ll tell you straight: If you’re not designing for accessibility, you’re missing out on customers.

Many of our clients come to us to make their site more accessible. If you’ve been thinking about it and wondering what’s involved, here’s what that process would (hypothetically) look like:

We’ll kick things off by introducing you to OnlineADA, where they’ll do a full audit of your website and come back to you with trouble points in a big spreadsheet. But don’t worry about that. Just forward it over to us with a big HELP in the subject line.

Badge shows VOLTAGE as an accredited OnlineADA expert

As an accredited Partner Agency of OnlineADA.com, we know what to do to address the issues discovered through the Online ADA audit process.

Chances are, some of the compliance issues may be:

  1. If there are infographics, images, videos, or slideshows, all the information contained on them should be available in text, too.
    Why: So someone who can’t see the screen can have the information read back to them and not miss out on meaning.
  2. Site elements (buttons, links, forms) should be clearly labeled and clear about what they want you to do.
    Why: So assistive technologies can help the user navigate the site as simply as possible.
  3. The contrast ratio should be at least 4.5:1 (or for large text, 3:1).
    Why: Try reading that meaningful headline that’s on that great image when you’re colorblind.
  4. You should be able to navigate content with a keyboard without specific timing of clicks or keystrokes.
    Why: Maybe you struggle with mobility (imagine you had to keep your dominant arm immobile), or you have a disability that requires you to navigate with a pointing device.
  5. Content should appear and operate in predictable ways.
    Why: Cognitive and neurological disabilities can make a popup window or moving elements super frustrating and distracting to navigate, especially for someone on a mission to make a purchase.
  6. If there’s an input error (say, when filling out a form), make recommendations to help the user do what they want to do.
    Why: Navigating the web differently than it’s designed can make errors common, though no less frustrating. Tips and quick links can smooth the process.
  7. Avoid media and navigation that plays or moves automatically.
    Why: Not only is it sensory overwhelm, but these elements can be difficult to stop or pause. Please, for everyone’s sake.

The good news is that most of what you do toward ADA compliance also lends itself well to website and SEO best practices. So really, accessibility is positive for everyone.

Look, it's all a bit technical, but the important thing...

Though it’s only recently come into the spotlight as lawsuits for non-compliance are rapidly becoming the norm (see: don’t stand in the way of a man and his pizza), ADA compliance is required for organizations and businesses that fit one or more of these criteria:

  • Governmental agencies (under Section 508)
  • Businesses that rely on the general public or operate for their benefit
  • Private companies with 15 or more employees
  • Non-profit and charitable organizations with 15 or more employees or which operate for the benefit of the general public

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines’ (WCAG) “AA” level is the industry standard for meeting ADA compliance. VOLTAGE is a great partner to help you get your website ADA compliant. We even have a certified ADA lead developer on the team.

One quick and easy thing you can do right now: Download the free Accessibility Toolbar Pro from Online ADA. It plugs right into your site and helps users adjust text sizes and colors on their own as they navigate your website.

Alright, that’s it on the topic from us for now. We’ve got code to tweak, alt tags to add, and popups to shoot down!

REALLY INTO IT? HERE’S SOME MORE READING:

A Beginner’s Guide to ADA Compliance for Websites

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview

WCAG 2.1 At A Glance

Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

Website Accessibility & The Law: Why Your Website Must Be Compliant

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About Julie Overby

Julie Overby

Copywriter. Editor. Mountain gazer.

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