An ADA Compliance Website Checklist Is A Good Start…
As a society, we love checklists. We gravitate towards clear guidelines on what we should and shouldn’t do when trying to achieve our goals. From 5 Ways to Lose Weight Fast to 5 Things to Do in the Morning to Be Productive All Day, checklists help us simplify our life. So, why not use a website accessibility checklist when trying to make our websites more accessible according to the current standards of ADA, W3C & Section 508 compliance?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a set of straightforward instructions that tell us exactly what needs to be done to help our websites reach the 20% of the American population with disabilities?
But here’s the deal: when it comes to topics like web accessibility, there’s no perfect checklist.
What You Need to Understand About Accessibility Checklists for ADA, W3C & Section 508 Compliance
Because accessibility is not a simple subject, it’s not easy to break down into simple steps.
The best protocols when it comes to web accessibility are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. These are technical guidelines which explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. But even these are complex. There are innumerable standards that can be interpreted and applied in different way. Checklists that attempt to breakdown these guidelines are helpful, but not fully sufficient.
But it is important to apply as many of the suggested rules as possible. Doing so will help you begin the process of ensuring that your brand’s digital properties are accessible to the 1 in 5 individuals with disabilities.
Where to Start
So how do you know where to start? How do you know which guidelines apply to your website and digital environments?
The best first step you can take is to reach out to to someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to web accessibility. By partnering with a company that focuses on web accessibility, like AKEA Web Solutions, you can make sure your website doesn’t discriminate, follows the law and reaches as many people as possible – no checklist needed.
Go Beyond The Accessibility Checklist
Checklists are valuable for learning about Web Accessibility Basics and that’s where they stop. Ensure you have achieved compliance by contacting the experts.
Getting Started with a Web Accessibility Checklist
If you do want to get started on your own, here are some categories of common accessibility considerations to make – this is a high-level outline of steps that should be included.
Landmarks help assistive technology users quickly navigate to and past blocks of content in a web interface.
Every language has its own unique punctuation and symbols. A language attribute on the HTML element lets screen readers interpret those dashes and marks correctly and read them outloud in the appropriate language.
This is a primary sticking point that gets organizations into trouble on their website. The ability of users to navigate with their keyboard only is a critical step towards compliance.
Be sure to provide a “skip to main content” link to allow those using screen readers to skip over the navigation menu when they load a new web page.
Make sure you’re using semantic headings and and logical content structure.
Make your links stand out. Make sure they are underlined and have a focus state in the html, which lets the reader know what is selected on a page.
Image Text / Alt Text
When posting images on your site, using the proper alt text means your images will be described accurately through a screen reader. For images that are simply intended to be decorative in nature and don’t provide actual content or information, they can generally be tagged as null.
Everyone needs basic or advanced forms on their website, but if you want them to be accessible, they should:
Follow a logical layout
Use placeholder attributes instead of label tags
Put related form elements together using a fieldset and describe them using a legend.
Have properly labelled fields.
ARIA was created by the world wide web consortium (W3C) to make information more readily available for screen readers. When the tags are used properly ARIA is a valuable tool. The only issue is that is often used incorrectly. Make sure you’re following the WAI-ARIA accessibility guidelines for proper tagging.
Video may be king right now, but to be sure to include captions or text alternatives so that your videos are accessible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. You should also provide text transcripts of video wherever possible.
To make sure your site is easy to read for those those with both standard and color vision deficiencies, you should check the contrast ratios early on in the design and development processes. This ensures the foreground and background colors on your site provide sufficient contrast so the text is easy to distinguish for users with vision impairments such as color blindness or low-vision. And always avoid gray backgrounds with gray text regardless of the amount of contrast. Beautiful design does not always equal accessible design.
Rapidly blinking lights could trigger seizures in someone with epilepsy.
A person who is visually is impaired may have to increase the text size, so the text should still be easy to read when made larger. Base text size should be at least 16px.
Page titles should be brief yet descriptive so they are easy for screen readers to interpret.
You can also test your site against the other categories we’ve discussed to see how easy it would be for someone with a disability to use. Try using only a keyboard or a screen reader and see how well you can navigate. If you’re going to make the changes mentioned above, you might have as well test them out! Or use these tests to see how much work you have to do in order to make your website accessible to everyone!
Lay the Foundation, But Don’t Stop There
These categories and items are a great place to start. Addressing these basic items will set you in the right direction. But don’t forget that there is a lot more to web accessibility than what is addressed in this list or any “Checklist” that you may happen to find.
It is Wise to Seek Out Additional Expertise
But there are also downsides to web accessibility checklists for ADA, WCAG & Section 508 compliance for websites. Even after everything we covered, we’ve by no means addressed all the WCAG Guidelines.
Making your website accessible for those with disabilities is not a simple step-by-step process. Just because you’ve covered all the categories listed above does not mean you’ve removed all barriers from your website. And you might have noticed that some of the requirements are a little confusing. That’s where we come in.
Find the Right Partner for your Organization
If you’re worried your site has accessibility issues, reach out to us today. AKEA Web Solutions specializes in providing complete web accessibility consulting services. We’ve been consulting in this field for over a decade, so we know our stuff. Let us be your checklist. Consulting with an expert and working with them to identify the unique needs of your industry, your website and your customers is the only way to ensure you’re meeting all the correct guidelines. This serves as evidence that you are working towards providing a website that is accessible to everyone.
So add one more item to the bottom of your checklist: Call AKEA Web Solutions today. (Check!)
Contact AKEA for a Free Consultation
on your web design and accessibility initiative!