Is My Website ADA Compliant? How to Check Your Digital Content

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Is My Website ADA Compliant? How to Check Your Digital Content

Posted March 21, 2024


Posted March 21, 2024

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Stylized web browser next to a shield with the accessibility icon on it.

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ADA compliance is a requirement for all businesses. In this article, we’ll discuss how to determine if your website meets accessibility standards and what tools can help you test for ADA compliance.

What’s something Barnes and Noble, Park Entertainment, and Health4Home all have in common? They’ve all been involved in lawsuits for website accessibility issues and failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

However, big companies aren’t the only ones facing accessibility lawsuits. In 2023, more than 4,600 accessibility lawsuits were filed against both small and large businesses for failing to comply with ADA accessibility requirements. 

As we discussed in our blog post “Does My Website Have to be ADA Compliant?”, public businesses, including state and local government agencies and private employers with more than 15 employees, need to comply with ADA accessibility requirements. Knowing this, it’s time to take the next step — testing to see if your site is compliant with ADA requirements.

Below, we’ll discuss how to check if your website is ADA-compliant and what tools are available to test for compliance. But first, a quick refresh on what ADA compliance is.

What is ADA Compliance?

Put simply, ADA compliance refers to creating digital content that meets the accessibility standards outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The guidelines are enforced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a way to ensure websites are accessible, operable, and inclusive to individuals with disabilities. 

For example, individuals with visual impairments or disabilities should be able to read your content using assistive technologies, such as a screen reader, and easily browse through your webpages. If individuals can’t do this, your website is not ADA-compliant.

How to Check for ADA Compliance

You have a few different options for testing for accessibility compliance. However, each one generally tests your digital content against the latest WCAG guidelines (currently WCAG 2.2). Most accessibility testing tools will highlight where accessibility violations exist on your site; some also provide recommendations on how to fix errors or apply fixes automatically.

Here’s a look into some of the ways you can check whether your site is ADA-compliant.

Automated Tools

As the name suggests, automated testing conducts compliance testing for you. The software analyzes your website’s underlying code and existing content for elements that fail to fulfill the accessibility standards outlined in WCAG.

For example, AudioEye’s automated fixes automatically runs more than 400 accessibility tests and flags errors. However, AudioEye goes a step further by automatically fixing common issues, minimizing strain on your existing resources. AudioEye also provides accessibility tools such as a Color Contrast Checker to test for appropriate color contrast ratios and a Website Accessibility Scanner to determine if your site meets ADA and WCAG compliance standards.

Manual Testing

You can also manually test your website for ADA-compliance. Manual audits typically involve reviewing all of your webpages against all WCAG success criteria and determining whether or not your site fulfills the criteria. It’s important to note that WCAG includes numerous accessibility criteria, which can feel daunting. However, the list does provide a good starting point for ADA website compliance.

Typically, manual audits are not a practical approach for businesses —especially considering the amount of time needed to conduct audits. Additionally, you run the risk of failing to meet all ADA requirements. We recommend using both automated tools and manual testing to audit your site and resolve accessibility issues as it provides the best path for being ADA compliant.

For example, AudioEye’s Automated Accessibility Platform performs automated testing on your webpages and automatically fixes common accessibility issues. Anything that can’t be fixed by our software alone is remediated by our team of human testers via our Managed Custom Fixes. Our testers also audit your digital content to uncover additional accessibility errors and provide recommendations for remediation. Our hybrid approach enables you to find and fix more accessibility issues, resulting in a more accessible user experience.

A stylized green website showing a series of checkmarks, next to an icon of scales with the label 'ADA'

Best Practices for ADA Compliance

The methods above are ideal for finding and fixing existing accessibility issues on your site. As you build and implement new content and technologies, there are some best practices you should follow to ensure your site remains ADA compliant.

Regularly Review WCAG and ADA Guidelines

Accessibility recommendations are always changing. Regularly reviewing accessibility laws and standards can help you make necessary changes to your site before they impact your customers and become a bigger issue.

For example, WCAG regularly adds new success criteria to its guidelines in response to evolving technologies or user preferences. The latest version of WCAG, 2.2, added nine additional criteria to WCAG 2.1 to enhance accessibility and improve the user experience for disabled users.

Use an Accessibility Checklist

An accessibility or WCAG checklist can help you include web elements that enhance accessibility, including:

  • Adding alternative text (alt text) to all multimedia content
  • Including transcripts and closed captions for video content
  • Keeping content short and scannable
  • Using descriptive links and HTML labels
  • Appropriate color contrast 
  • Following proper heading structure
  • Optimizing navigation for keyboard users
  • Using accessible fonts
  • Including descriptive tags and anchor links

Provide Regular Accessibility Training

The ADA requires that all places of public accommodation — including the Internet — be accessible to people with disabilities. Because of this, it’s important to provide your employees with regular accessibility training and resources. Doing so ensures they understand and conform to accessibility guidelines. It also helps them understand the needs of people with disabilities and how to create a more inclusive web design.

Conduct Routine Accessibility Audits of Your Website

Every time you update your website or add new content, you risk inadvertently introducing new accessibility issues. To ensure you find and fix these issues before they impact your customers, you need to conduct regular accessibility audits or hire a professional who offers ADA compliance services like AudioEye. It’s recommended to audit your site at least every 4-6 months as this demonstrates ongoing conformance with WCAG recommendations and enables you to fix accessibility errors more quickly.

Why Does My Website Need to be ADA Compliant?

Non-compliance with ADA guidelines put in place by the ADA puts your business at risk for costly legal lawsuits or demand letters that can have lasting consequences on your business.

More importantly, however, there are numerous benefits to creating an accessible design, including improving your company’s reputation, providing a more streamlined user experience,  increasing search engine rankings, and improving overall website performance. Together, these factors enable you to tap into a large — and often overlooked — market, which can increase customer engagement, satisfaction, and sales.

The biggest reason your website should be ADA-compliant is simple: it’s the right thing to do. Everyone — regardless of their abilities — should have equal access to online content.

What Happens if My Website Isn’t ADA-Compliant?

Websites that fail to meet ADA accessibility standards are at risk for a number of negative consequences, including:

  • Accessibility lawsuits or demand letters: Should a disabled user come across an accessibility error on your site, they can pursue legal action against you for lack of accessibility. These lawsuits can be expensive, time-consuming, and cast a negative light on your business.
  • Damage to company reputation: When a user encounters an accessibility barrier on your website, it results in user frustration and disappointment which may find an outlet on social media. The negative feedback can quickly spread and tarnish your brand’s image. Additionally, an inaccessible website may send the message that you’re indifferent to customers’ needs.
  • Poor user experience: Accessibility errors create a negative user experience not just for users with disabilities, but for everyone. With an abundance of businesses and vendors to choose from, users are quick to leave business’ websites in search of a more streamlined or more accessible user experience.
A stylized web page with three different exclamation marks representing accessibility issues on the page.

What to do if Your Website Isn’t ADA Compliant

If an accessibility audit reveals that your site isn’t compliant with ADA requirements, the first thing to do is not to panic. Go back to the results of your accessibility audit and determine which accessibility errors should be corrected first. We recommend starting with quick, easy fixes while putting together a long-term remediation plan with your team. 

You’ll also want to ensure your remediation plan includes implementing accessibility best practices including:

  • Alt text for images and other multimedia content
  • Semantic HTML markup
  • Proper heading structures
  • ARIA landmarks
  • Captions and transcripts for videos or audio descriptions

From here, ensure your team regularly participates in accessibility training. This may help you foster a culture of accessibility and inclusivity moving forward. 

Finally, regularly monitor and update your website to maintain compliance with evolving ADA accessibility standards. Remember, accessibility is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing evaluation to ensure you’re providing users with the best possible experience.

Achieve ADA Compliance Effortlessly with AudioEye

ADA compliance is about so much more than minimizing legal risk. It’s about providing all users with an accessible, inclusive experience — something that everyone deserves.

To help you on your path to ADA compliance, there’s AudioEye. Our Automated Accessibility Platform includes numerous accessibility tools that help you find, fix, and monitor accessibility errors with ease. From our Expert Audits that test for accessibility issues that automated solutions cannot detect to our Developer Tools that enable you to test for accessibility in pre-production environments, AudioEye provides everything you need to maximize accessibility.

Take your first step towards ADA compliance and an inclusive user experience. Get a free scan of your website with AudioEye.

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