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Website ADA compliance – ensure your site is secure and accessible

Continuing our two-part series, we’re exploring Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1/Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. If you’re considering SSL security to protect your site after reading our last installment, great! You’re taking an important step to make sure your site is safe and secure from tampering and impersonation.

While in the process of securing your site, it’s the perfect time to also make sure you’re meeting important legal requirements when it comes to ADA compliance. In doing this, you’ll be guaranteeing accessibility, equity, and service to all website visitors. Additionally, compliance increases your potential target audience reach, improves your overall SEO efforts, and provides credibility to your business and reputation. Not to mention, that not only do 19% of Americans have disabilities, but people with disabilities in the US have discretionary spending power of $175 billion making them a highly valuable segment in your marketing.

Background Information

The Department of Justice (DOJ) published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design in September 2010. These standards state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets the main international standards for the World Wide Web and its accessibility. W3C created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), which are similar to Section 508, but on an international level. Many countries and international organizations require this type of compliance.

What’s the difference between WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1?

Consider 2.1 an updated version. Both contain the same success criteria (word-for-word) when it comes to accessibility standards. However, WCAG 2.1 provides 17 additional success criteria that address: mobile accessibility, people with low vision, and people with cognitive and learning disabilities.

Helpful Links

Ready to learn more? We have compiled a detailed list of resources and guides to help you. Read more about WCAG 2.1, learn about tools to help check your site, craft an accessibility statement, and learn more about helpful WCAG plugins.

WCAG Guides:

WCAG 2.1 Checker/Tools:

Equidox eBook

Accessibility Statements

WCAG Plugins

Levels of Conformance

Representatives from the accessibility community around the world participate in the evolution of levels of compliance guidelines. These guidelines are categorized into three levels of conformance:

  • A (must support)
  • AA (should support)
  • AAA (may support)

There are specific success criteria associated with each level. We recommend AA level compliance for our clients. This level of protection is standard, unless you are governmental entities (and are not international). 

Human Testing vs. Automation

We spoke with representatives at the Bureau of Internet Accessibility in 2017 regarding the need for human testing vs. automated testing to ensure compliance. Clearly, this has been a work in progress for years now and in order to complete full accessibility testing of your site, human testing is still necessary. An automated scan is helpful and will be able to complete approximately 30% of the total accessibility testing. However, this type of testing only tests public-facing pages – not forms, PDFs, etc.

Is this really necessary? Yes! The Department of Justice is very active when it comes to litigation regarding testing of ADA compliance. Current litigations can be found here.

The impact on your business and clients

Legalities aside, if your business model is to ensure you are reaching all potential customers and providing an equal opportunity experience to all site visitors, WCAG/ADA compliance is a must! The online experience should provide equity and access to all, and your site plays an important role in making sure all are welcome. We’ve compiled a few articles below that should convince you to take compliance seriously when it comes to your business’ credibility and reputation:

The Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BOIA) discusses why web accessibility is crucial for digital marketers.

The BOIA discusses five ways to improve your SEO with web accessibility.

What You Should Know About Accessibility + SEO, Part I: An Intro by Laura Lippay

Google’s take on accessibility, including links to guides and resources

Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions. If you need help building a solid marketing foundation for your business, schedule a free 30 min consultation.