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posted on December 3th, 2018

How to Avoid an ADA Compliance Lawsuit on Your Website

BY Jason Howard in Web Accessibility ,
Avoid an ADA Compliance Lawsuit on Your Website

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as the ADA, was passed in 1990 as a means to protect citizens with both mental and physical disabilities.

Typically, when most people think of the ADA, wheelchair accessibility and braille translations come to mind. While those are indeed part of ADA protections, the act applies to a broader range of fields. This includes all websites that are publicly accessible on the internet.

To avoid an ADA Compliance Lawsuit, your website must meet ADA Compliant design. This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the ADA, but if you own a site, you must ensure that it incorporates ADA Compliance web design principles to avoid an ADA Compliance Lawsuit.

The only way to avoid the pitfalls of ADA litigation is to thoroughly understand what criteria your site needs to meet to be compliant. It’s not something worth leaving up to chance, as ADA compliant lawsuits are becoming an increasingly prevalent part of US civil court proceedings. Don’t delay bringing your site up to ADA standards. Contact the professionals at Cynexis Media for an ADA compliance consultation. 

What is the ADA?

According to the ADA National Network, “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.”

The Act was designed to ensure that those with disabilities have the equivalent opportunities to that of the general population.

The ADA National Network continues, “The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state/local government services and telecommunications.”

In 2008, those with disabilities were granted further protection when the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act was signed into law. It became active in 2009 and changed the definition of disability to include a broader range of citizens.

That range of people includes those who are afflicted with blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and a combination of these.

The amendment act, passed in 2008, extended to all facets of the public including sites published on the internet.

How Can I Tell If a Site is ADA Compliant?

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) offers a list of guidelines that ensure your site is accessible to a wide-range of people and thus is ADA compliant.

The WCAG is intended for web content developers, web authoring tool developers, web accessibility evaluation tool developers and others who want or need a standard for accessibility.

The WCAG criteria was generated through the W3 process. It was created through a collaborative effort from people and organizations around the world.

According to W3.org, the goal of these guidelines is to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations and governments internationally. The WCAG is separated into three levels that include A, AA and AAA. See the website ADA compliance checklist below that includes a few well-known ADA website compliance elements from each WCAG level:

Website ADA Compliance Checklist:

Level A

  1. Text

Input fields must have a label that describes their function and all media should include text that defines said media.

  1. Content

Content should be presented in a variety of ways that accommodates the audience, which can include all varieties of people.  It should include a layout variations, structure, logic and instructions, if necessary. Content avoid excessive moving, blinking, scrolling and repeating.

  1. Color

Color should not be used to present visual information or seperate visual components, indicate actions or prompt for a response.

  1. Keyboard Controls

Users must be able to navigate through the entire website with a keyboard without specific timings for individual keystrokes.

  1. Audio

If audio is playing on a page for more than three seconds, the user must be able to stop the audio or  control it from the volume level of the system.

Level AA

  1. Text Contrast

A site’s text content and images should have a contrast ratio of 4.5:1. Large scale text and images need must contain a contrast ratio of 3:1.

  1. Keyboard Controls

Users must be able to navigate through the entire website with a keyboard interface without specific timings for individual keystrokes.

  1. Video / Audio

Captions should be provided for all live audio or video content.

  1. Secure Input

Make sure that security, legal and financial data transactions are secure. The user should be given the opportunity to recheck input data. Then, a confirmation must be provided before finalizing the transaction.

  1. Consistent Navigation

Navigation that is repeated throughout multiple pages should be displayed in the same order each time they are repeated.

Level AAA

  1. Sign Language

All prerecorded audio can be paired with sign language interpretation. Content must not contain any background audio or sounds presented during prerecorded speech.

  1. Content Size

Blocks of content must not exceed 80 characters or glyphs in width. Line spacing must be at least 1.5 spaces within paragraphs and paragraph spacing must be at least 1.5 times larger than the line spacing. Text needs to be organized with section headings.

  1. Interruptions

Avoid interruptions of the webpage. If they do occur, allow users to postpone or suppress interruptions, except in the case of an emergency. Ensure each page does not contain content flashes more than 3 times per second.

  1. Reading Level

Provide content to be read at a lower secondary education level, typically 9th grade. Include a mechanism to identify definitions of unusual words and/or phrases.

  1. Provide Help

Give users context-sensitive help. Prevent user input errors by providing users with the options to reverse the submission of information, correct the info, allow review and confirm the information before submitting.

About Us

The guidelines provided by the WCAG can cause confusion for some. The only way to ensure that your site meets the compliance standards defined by the ADA is to hire a professional web-design firm like the professionals at Cynexis Media. We specialize in providing clients with ADA Compliant sites that will keep them out of web ADA related litigation. To see how we can help get your site up to speed, contact us at (614) 763-5050 or reach us through our web portal.

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