ADA web compliance also benefits your brand
A lot has been written about the official requirements and ramifications of having ADA-compliant websites. While ensuring your organization meets those standards is essential to protecting yourself from legal action, being ADA compliant also has significant benefits to your brand. Creating digital communications that are inclusive of people with disabilities is part of good corporate social responsibility and sends the signal that your brand believes in equality and supporting marginalized groups. It also gives you additional opportunities to strategically promote your brand to a wider audience by improving your site SEO with richer keywords.
Here are four things you can do right away to get closer to ADA Level AA web compliance.
1. Evaluate the color contrast of your brand palette.
A big part of ADA compliance is making sure that all colors — from backgrounds to fonts — are recognizable and present information clearly throughout each web page. Use color contrast tools like Contrast Ratio when creating your corporate brand palette to ensure it is compliant. You can also create a separate web compliant palette to use in tandem for your site.
2. Write alt text for all images and graphics.
Providing text alternatives — alt text — for non-text content allows screen readers to describe them audibly to people with visual impairments. It’s important that alt text clarify an image’s context in under 125 characters, using succinct language that describes the need-to-know information. Alt text captions are also helpful for boosting your SEO and registering your site higher on search engines. When writing alt text, consider using keywords that are both relevant to your category, product, or service and unique to your brand values, attributes, and positioning.
3. Provide a sitemap and consistent web navigation.
Clear site structure and intuitive navigation are huge parts of good web communication and benefit all audiences. When creating navigation links on your menu, web pages, and sitemap, use consistent language and style elements so users can better distinguish between the different actions they can take on your site. Adding breadcrumbs to your web pages and writing straightforward headings also provide web users with additional aids for understanding the structure of your site.
4. Write headlines and subheads that are to-the-point.
The code on your site should employ modern code format — including H1 and H2 headlines and subheads — so that it is readable by assistive technologies across multiple browsers. Writing H1s and H2s that use clear, simple language to explain your key messages will make for an easier user experience. And like alt text, H1s and H2s provide an opportunity to include brand keywords that boost your overall SEO.
By implementing these four items alone, you will make your website significantly more accessible to a wider audience and elevate the integrity of your brand. You can also download the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for a starter checklist of additional steps you can take to improve your website’s ADA compliance level. In addition, we recommend downloading the ChromeVox Classic assistive reader to test your site and ensure it continues to meet these standards, as well as to help you understand the experience of navigating a website with a visual or aural disability.