SEO & ADA Compliance
Are you wondering whether your website is ADA-complaint? Is your website accessibility hurting your SEO?
Or are you just wondering how to ensure your website is ADA compliant?
You’re not alone.
In 2018 alone, 2000+ websites faced accessibility lawsuits.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep your website accessible to all people regardless of their mental or physical state.
In this blog post, you’re going to learn how about website ADA compliance how to test your website accessibility, and how to make it compliant with ADA guidelines. We will also share useful tools to help you audit your website accessibility.
Let’s dive right inside.
What is ADA compliance?
Perhaps you have heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act but you aren’t sure whether it applies to your website. Typically, the ADA guidelines are to be followed by both offline and online businesses.
In the building and construction industry, contractors know they need to comply with the ADA act. Website developers and online business owners also need to make their websites accessible to all people.
In simple terms, website ADA compliance is the process of designing your website with strict adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes e-commerce websites, twiftnews websites, etc.
The Act implies that websites should be accessible to persons with disabilities the same way as terminals, elevators, ATMs, etc.
Your website also needs to be usable on all devices including desktop, tablets, laptops, and mobile phones.
This is to make sure that people who are using audio scanners or text readers are also accommodated on your website.
Not only is your website accessibility important when it comes to SEO but you also risk getting subjected to hefty fines if your website doesn’t follow the ADA guidelines.
Applicable areas of the ADA Act
Typically, ADA compliance affects almost all businesses both online and offline.
Basically, ADA compliance applies to the following organizations and companies:
- Private businesses with more than 15 workers.
- Government agencies and state corporations.
Ideally, you want to make sure your business can be accessed by everyone regardless of their accessibility status. So whether you operate a small or large business, you must make sure to follow the ADA guidelines in all your business undertakings.
ADA compliance also affects SEO as well. Given that the number of website visitors a website gets is a signal to Google that your website is providing something of value to your readers, if it can accommodate all people, it may get better Google rankings.
The Implications of not complying with the ADA act when designing your website
As seen above, more than 2000 websites battled lawsuits for not complying with the ADA web design guidelines.
If your website isn’t ADA compliance, then you’re in trouble.
Typically, violating ADA website design standards could see you getting fined up to $75,000. And if you violate the set guidelines for the second or third time, you may be forced to pay up to a fine of $150,000.
Organizations that depend on funding may also not get funds from their donors.
Well, getting fined for not complying with the ADA standards can also ruin your reputation and this could affect your overall sales.
How to check your website for ADA compliance
You can check your website accessibility in two ways:
- Using tools
- Audit it manually.
Keep reading to know how to test your website accessibility using tools.
How to test your website accessibility using tools
There are plenty of ADA compliance checker tools out there you can use to test your website’s text size, color contrast, etc.
Some tools check a page after time while others check the overall website.
Remember that your website ADA compliance isn’t something you do once and forget about it.
You’re going to need to adhere to the ADA website design standards as long as your website is live and continues to grow. The same way applies to private businesses and government agencies.
Well, the guidelines aren’t as complicated as you may think.
For instance, when adding images to your website, you need to add the Alt tags. You also need to include a meta description for each page of your e-commerce website, etc.
Keeping your website ADA compliant can be beneficial in many ways.
First, it makes you stand out from the crowd. Remember that not all online businesses are adhering to ADA standards. That means that if you can accommodate then you stand a high chance of making more transactions over those that are yet to meet the standards.
Secondly, meeting the ADA standards improves your website’s overall experience on all browsers on all devices.
Thirdly, it helps to make your information easy to understand by Google and other search engines.
Some accessibility issues are easy to detect and fix while others aren’t.
For instance, meta descriptions could be missing in some pages, or you might have a missing label on your opt-in forms.
These issues could make it hard for anyone using your website to understand your content or taking the actions you want them to.
That’s why it’s recommended to use accessibility checker tools to audit your site to catch these issues easily.
Below are some of the accessibility checkers to check whether your website is ADA compliant or not.
WAVE is one of the popular free website accessibility checkers out there. It is developed by WebAIM alongside other website accessibility checker tools.
WebAIM is an organization that was formed to make web content easy to read and understand by all people including those with disabilities.
The tool is easy to use. You just need to enter your website URL on the WAVE page and the tool will check and display the errors detected as well as warnings so you can make changes accordingly.
The good thing about this website accessibility checker is that it also places icons where it detects errors inside your website.
You can download and install the WAVE browser extensions as well so you can test every page you’re working right away.
You can also use the WAVE API– it’s a paid product that lets you automate accessibility checks so you don’t have to run the checker every time you want to fix errors.
SortSite is available as an online and offline web accessibility checker. The tool is superb when it comes to testing your website for SEO, accessibility, HTML and CSS standards, and broken links. You can also test your website accessibility on different browsers with this tool as well.
With this tool, you can test up to 10 pages or purchase their paid version to run a complete accessibility test for your website.
After running the accessibility test, the tool will generate a report with the errors and warnings plus it will indicate those that need to be fixed urgently.
Pages that have errors with the highest level of impact means that they are difficult to access.
The good thing is that the tool generates reports with links to the WCAG and Section 508 so you can know how to adjust your website following proper guidelines.
SortSite is the best tool for users who want to scan their entire website although the error messages in the report may confuse developers.
tota11y is a checker that lets you understand accessibility problems visually on a page.
The tool is developed by a team of developers from Khan Academy.
When active, the tool displays a menu at the bottom left corner of your browser. When you run it, it displays errors detected on your website related to images, color contrast, missing form labels, etc.
What’s more, tota11y displays the errors on the page showing you the main cause of each problem and how to fix it.
The tool also shows you how content will be interpreted for screen text readers.
This helps to make sure people using screen readers are also accommodated on your website.
DynoMapper is a web accessibility checker tool and sitemap generator that lets you audit your content and monitor your keywords regularly.
Once run, the tool displays errors through visual sitemaps.
The good thing about this accessibility checker is that you can use it to do larger scans including password-restricted websites.
DynoMapper is a premium tool though and prices start from $40/mo.
These are the most useful and powerful accessibility checker tools you can use to check your website ADA compliance.
You may also want to check out other inclusive web site monitoring tools, although the ones we have outlined above can help you when getting started with your accessibility test.
It’s important to understand that some of these tools may not catch some accessibility errors. Some can only be identified by your website users. That’s why it’s advisable to check your website’s accessibility both with tools and manually.
Perform a manual audit of your site
You can also check your website accessibility manually.
This involves auditing each page of your website following the WCAG– Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Typically, WCAG forms the larger part of website accessibility guidelines. That means that even if you use automated tools to test your website accessibility, the reports generated will be based on WCAG- you will need to correct the issues detected following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Technically, WCAG aims at making sure your website follows the following principles:
- That your website visitors have the opportunity to perceive your content through other options- video transcripts or audio.
- That your website visitors can navigate and use your site features with ease. For instance, your search bar, main navigation menu, and other features should be accessible to all people that visit your website regardless of their disability status.
- That your website visitors don’t experience difficulties understanding your website content. For instance, you may want to add tutorials and instructions that show people how to use the tools you provide on your website.
- That all your website’s visitors get the same experience when using your site.
Oftentimes it’s advisable to use automated tools alongside manual auditing to make sure every element on your website adheres to the ADA standards.
How to Make Your Website ADA Compliant
You can test an existing website for ADA compliance and fix any accessibility errors and you can build a website with strict adherence to ADA standards from the get-go.
Below are a few ways to make your website ADA compliant.
Add an ADA compliance plugin.
If your website is hosted on the WordPress platform, you’re all set. WordPress contains several ADA compliance plugins such as WP Accessibility Helper and many others that can make your website user-friendly to anyone including people with disabilities.
Just make sure you familiarize yourself with the features of the plugins you intend to install on your WordPress website and the cost before you decide to invest your money on it.
Audit your site
The first thing you want to do to make your website ADA-compliant is to perform an audit. You can use the tools we shared about to run automated audits or do it manually.
Once you have a complete audit report of your website accessibility, you can then work on making your site ADA compliant.
Once you have checked your website for ADA compliance, you can then proceed to the next step…
Work with an ADA agency
The best way to make your website ADA-compliant is to hire an ADA agency. This will help you to know how to make your website ADA compliant so you don’t suffer lawsuits.
Well, of course, you can still work with your in-house website development team but outsourcing the work would save more time for your team so you can concentrate on other matters of your business.
You must make sure you vet agencies properly though.
For instance, if you’re looking to make your e-commerce website to comply with the ADA web development standards then you need to choose an agency that specializes in e-commerce website design.
So there you have it. Given the importance of making your website accessible to every person, it’s important to ensure your website is ADA compliant.
It’s both beneficial to your overall website performance and can help boost your SEO and increase sales.
The good thing is that the process isn’t as complicated as you might have thought.
With the right tools and strategies, you can audit your site, find out the issues making your website incompliant with the ADA guidelines then either install an ADA compliance plugin or hire an experienced ADA agency to work on your website accessibility.
It’s that simple.