Expanding Your Website To Reach Everyone: Implementing an ADA Compliant Website

Growing and healthy companies continually seek new ways and methods to create awareness and draw potential prospects to their branded website. However, most business and marketing leaders are not familiar with how to make their website ADA Compliant.

An ADA Compliant website is a set of guidelines and principles that structure and organize the website code to be “read” by tools used by individuals who are defined as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Most marketers are surprised to learn that the ADA has guidelines governing website design and programming structure. After deeply researching the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Autumn Consulting selected Scalesology, a data analytics firm based in Chicago, to be the preferred provider for assessing compliance to ADA web standards.

Recently, Autumn Consulting retained Scalesology for a complete website assessment of a real estate broker’s website based in Naples, FL. The Broker/Owner established a business priority that all parts of their business would be ADA compliant. Through Autumn Consulting’s role in teaching and training real estate agents at the Naples Area Board of Realtors, the broker reached out to Autumn for an ADA Compliant website audit and corrective implementation plan.

The ADA Audit

An extensive page-by-page audit was completed by Scalesology using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as the governing rule. The audit uncovered nearly 200 critical/non-compliant errors. The client shared a concern that they did not want to be liable for a future lawsuit if their organization and website were not in compliance with the ADA guidelines. The following is an executive summary of how the audit categorizes violations.

© Scalesology ADA Website Compliance Audit

The Line-by-Line Corrective Plan

The rest of the report, while confidential, provides specific code-level examples of where the website did not comply with the ADA guidelines. Due to the comprehensive nature of the audit, Autumn performed a line-by-line review of the website code to implement the correct plan. The following are two examples that were identified and fixed by Autumn Consulting:

  1. Headers
    To give an example, the ADA web guidelines recommend using header tags consistently through the site beginning with an H1 or Header 1 tag. From a coding standpoint, programmers and designers use Headers to show significant and typically large typeface at the top of the page for a banner. However, in this client’s website, the first header tag was a Header 3 tag.

    While there is nothing technically incorrect with a Header 3 tag, the ADA guidelines that serve people with disabilities expect a Header 1 and Header 2 tag before “seeing” a Header 3 tag. To remedy this, the Autumn Consulting team went through and added in key header tags or changed the priority of a Header 3 to a Header 1 tag.

  2. Labels
    Another common and challenging issue surfaced by the audit is the lack of readability when using icons and forms on the page. To most people, when you visit a website, you can “see” the social icons such as Facebook or Instagram. However, when a person with disabilities is using a screen reader, which looks at the code and audibly tells the user what is visible on the screen, the screen reader can not recognize social media icons.

    As a result, Autumn implemented a programming attribute called Label. This is hidden code, not visible on a web page, but is readable to a screen reader. This piece of code functions as an additional description. The following is a correct example of how the site now complies with the ADA Guidelines.

Ensuring your site is ADA Compliant

If your business is growing and you want to reach your maximum number of qualified prospects, Autumn Consulting recommends engaging in an ADA Compliant Audit and Implementation Plan. On average the complete process, the audit and live implementation are done in 60 days. To learn more, reach out to Autumn Consulting directly at (262) 323-1776 or share your needs by completing our online form.

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