March 12, 2018
How to Bring Your Website Up to ADA Section 508 Compliance
Just as your business must be ADA accessible, so should your website. Do all users have the same seamless experience when visiting your site, or do missing alt tags, wrong form labels, and videos without closed captioning hinder your site’s accessibility?
If your site isn’t accessible, you may be facing a huge lawsuit, one that could be detrimental to your budget and your reputation. Higher education is already making ADA Section 508 compliance a primary concern when it comes to their websites and higher ed web design, but Section 508 is something more than just the education sector should care about. If you own a business or run a nonprofit, make sure your organization’s website follows these few steps so that everyone has a memorable and engaging online experience.
Use Alt Tags
Alt tags are good for both accessibility and SEO. Alt tags are descriptions that should accompany every single image on your website. Screen readers read these descriptions out loud, enabling users who are visually impaired to still know what is on the screen.
Alt tags give a huge boost to SEO, as well. When writing a small description for your image, try to add the keywords you want to target into the tag.
Be Careful with Colors
Certain colors and color combinations can severely impact the experience a user has with your site, whether they have a visual impairment or not. Never use similar colors (orange and yellow, for example) or contrasting colors (like blue and green) close together. Such color combinations can be hard for colorblind users. Also, try not to use flashy animations. These could harm users who are susceptible to seizures.
When in doubt, stick to black text on a white background. It’s easiest for every user to read.
Add Subtitles and Transcripts
If your site features videos (and if you want your site to be engaging, it definitely should), make sure those videos give the user the option to turn on subtitles or follow along with a transcript. Make sure these scripts are accurate in terms of both description and grammar. They’re very important for hearing-impaired users and are something all online videos are expected to have.
Pay Attention to Content Design
The presentation of your content matters just as much as what the content says. Organize the content on your web pages in a way that is easy for users to navigate. Use content like “breadcrumbs” to show users where they are. Make sure users have enough time to read the content on your page. This is especially important if you’re using automated sliders.
Label Forms, Fields, and Controls
Images aren’t the only assets that need labels. Forms and form fields should also be clearly marked. Make sure users know what is expected of them by adding labels to controls, such as “Search” or “Submit.” Meanwhile, everything should be designed in a consistent manner. Don’t switch colors from one “Submit” button to the next.
Post Accessible Documents
While PDFs are great for downloading and printing, always provide the option to access documents in HTML or RTF. Both file formats are most compatible with assistive technology, such as screen readers.
Give the Keyboard Control
Another important feature to keep in mind is your site’s keyboard control. The proper code should be added to your site so that forms, menus, and controls can be navigated via a user’s keyboard without requiring the cursor or mouse. Ensuring your site is keyboard navigable adds an extra layer of accessibility for people who have visual impairments or other disabilities.
Use Good Form
The layout of your site should not be impeded, regardless of the device or browser someone is using. Be wary of broken lines of text, blurry images, and more. Some users may visit your site on small, handheld devices. Others may require larger screens. However, no matter which device they’re using, what they see should remain the same. Even if your page is resized to 200%, it should still maintain its original form.
Publish an ADA Statement
Let your users know that your site is compliant and allow them to provide feedback on your efforts via an email or simple form. There may be other accessibility issues you may have never thought of before. Give your users a chance to point them out so that you can continue to make your site one that all can enjoy.
If you need help ensuring your business or nonprofit’s website meets ADA Section 508 compliance standards, reach out to our team of small business web design and accessibility experts today.