Website for disable people

How Becoming ADA Compliant Can Help with SEO

Today, all businesses must be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or they may get fined. This means they must have wheelchair ramps, doorways large enough to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs and handicapped bathrooms.

Now the ADA is moving into the internet. Companies with an online presence are now required to update their sites so people with disabilities can easily browse, learn, and shop. Not doing so, can get them in trouble with the law.

Getting ADA compliant may be an added expense, but it is well worth it. It exposes your business to a bigger customer base, it keeps you out of legal trouble and it can boost your SEO. Read on to find out what it means to get your websites compliant and the benefits it can provide.

What Does it Mean to Have an ADA Compliant Website?

Having an ADA compliant website means it’s accessible to disabled people. This includes people that have difficulty hearing and seeing as well as those that have mobility and cognitive issues. Here are some things you can do to get your site up to speed.

Include Alt Tags on Images: People with vision issues may use a text reader to browse a web site. The alt tags will tell the scanner what the image depicts so users can better understand the message you are sending. Videos, online forms, call to action buttons, and PDFs should have alt tags as well.

Alt tags are also picked up by Google, so the search engine better understands what your site is about and ranks it appropriately.

Use Subtitles for Transcripts: Video is one of the most effective ways to market a product or service. But if it doesn’t have a subtitle or transcript, you will be unable to reach the 13% of the population who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Use Headers to Break Up Text: Most website designers are familiar with how to display text. They know they should break up text into readable segments that are easy to digest. They should use headings that will help people scan to the sections they want to read.

The headings also help Google identify what the content is about.

This design is also ideal for people with disabilities. It helps people with vision problems use text readers to scan to the sections that interest them. The technique works best when content is divided into H1, H2, H3 headings in chronological order as it ensures what is being read makes sense.

Breaking up text and making it easy to read is also ideal for people with cognitive issues. It provides digestible information that facilitates comprehension.

Use Color Contrast and Borders: People with vision issues may struggle to make out boarders if they are not well defined. This goes for those with poor vison as well as those that are colorblind.

Make sure your borders stand out by providing distinct outlines. Colors should contrast sharply. So you’re better off using black and white on a page as opposed to say, red and pink.

Use Tabs on Forms: If you have fillable forms on a site, it’s best to design them so people can go from field to field using the tab or arrow buttons on the keypad. This is less prohibitive for people that can’t use a mouse.

Use Alternate Ways to Alert People of Errors When Filling Out Forms: We all know how common it is to encounter error messages when filling out forms online. But if someone can’t see the error message, they may not be aware of the mistakes they are making. This will keep them from completing forms.

Website designers must consider this and work out alternate ways to alert users of errors such as using sound or somehow making error messages visible to text readers.

With most forms used to collect information and during the checkout process, you can’t afford for these not to work like they should.

Identify the Site’s Language in the Header Code: Identifying the site’s language in the header code will help text readers identify codes and function accordingly.

Create a Consistent Organized Layout: Your website design should feature menus, links and buttons that are well organized and clearly delineated. This will make your site easier to navigate for people with and without vision issues.

Clear Fonts: Fonts should be easy to read.

All Hyperlinks Should Have Descriptive Anchor Text: You never want to display anchor text that simply says, ‘click here’. You always want to provide enough description so that the user understands why they may want to click the link.

Have a Website Accessibility Page: Accessible websites will often have a page on their website that states they follow accessibility guidelines. This is a good idea as it lets everyone know you are making the effort. However, it’s important to follow through on this as not doing so can make you look bad.

Include Contact Information for ADA Issues: You should also include information on how users can contact you if they are experiencing any compliance issues. This lets consumers know you care about the needs of disabled people. It also allows you to take care of any problems before they become more serious.

What Happens if I’m Not ADA Compliant?

The ADA was signed into law in 1990, a time when computers were not used as often as they are today. In 2018, the act was updated to include WCAG guidelines that relate to technology. They state that the website must be:

  • Perceivable: In that users should be able to perceive what the website has to offer which can be achieved through the use of alt tags, subtitles, descriptive anchor text, etc.
  • Operable: This refers to a user’s ability to access the websites functions, i.e. allowing for the use of arrows and tabs as an alternate to the mouse.
  • Understandable: The user must be able to understand the website in terms of error messages and readability.
  • Robust: This pertains to the website’s ADA technology and its ability to adapt to updated systems.

While these guidelines give us a clue on what it takes to be ADA compliant, they don’t provide a clear outline of what businesses can and cannot do in terms of legality. Therefore, there are many gray areas. But that doesn’t stop people from taking legal action against businesses with non-compliant websites.

In fact, several companies have been sued for not being ADA compliant with penalties ranging from $50,000 to $75,000 and $150,000 for repeat violations. Winn Dixie was sued for $250,00o for not being ADA compliant. Domino’s also got sued for a lack of ADA compliance.

What are the Benefits of Being ADA Compliant?

ADA compliance comes with its share of benefits. Here are some to consider.

It Keeps You Ahead of the Competition: Despite the increased awareness of ADA compliance, about 90% of businesses don’t have their sites up to speed. If you get your site compliant, you will stand out from the competition. You will be favored by those that are disabled as well as advocates for the disabled.

It Boosts SEO: Many of the requirements for ADA compliance will help you boost your SEO. This includes adding alt tags, using headlines, and using descriptive anchor texts for links. These efforts will make Google better recognize your content so it’s more likely to be recognized in search engines.

It Can Help You Avoid a Lawsuit: Even though ADA compliance is a gray area, people can and will sue. What’s more, it’s likely that compliance issues will get more attention as time goes on. The sooner you get compliant, the better your chances are of staying out of trouble.

It Will Improve Your Reputation: In today’s socially aware world, not being ADA compliant can be seen as a sign of discrimination. On the other hand, if you become ADA compliant, you will be recognized as a reputable company by disabled and non-disabled people alike.

How Do You Get Your Website ADA Compliant?

There are many companies that offer ADA compliant services. They will start by auditing your site to identify problem areas. Then they will work on a redesign that brings you up to code.

You can also take a more independent route and access online audits. You can go from there to fix the issues with a web designer. But you can be confident your site will be free of any compatibility problems if you work with a specialist.

Once you become ADA compliant, you can automate testing. That way you will be alerted of any issues before a user brings them to your attention.

ADA compliance may be a gray area, but it’s a requirement that must be adhered to. In addition to keeping you on the right side of the law, it will make you stand out from your competition and boost your SEO. What steps will you be taking to get your website up to speed?

If you have questions or would like to get started, please give us a call at (312) 834-7787 or visit our website to request a free quote and consultation.