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Accessibility (ADA)

Written by Tyler Morian

What is ADA?

ADA refers to The Americans with Disabilities act. Signed into law in 1990, by George H.W. Bush, The Americans with disabilities act protects people with disabilities from discrimination and seeks to ensure that individuals with disabilities can routinely participate in mainstream activities.

How ADA applies to the web

  • Websites that do not consider the experience of individuals with disabilities during the design and development process can be more difficult or impossible for individuals with disabilities to use. ADA extends beyond the physical requirements you may be familiar with like handrails and accessible parking. The legislation also includes components that define how websites should be built. Consider these scenarios:
    Someone with partial color blindness visits a website where the color of important text blends into a background color. Because of the lack of contrast, the user is unable to read the text.
  • Someone with limited sight visits a website using screen reader software that narrates the content of the website. Since the navigation is near the top of the page, each time they go to another page their screen reader reads every navigation item in the menu without providing an option to skip navigation.
  • Someone with limited dexterity is attempting to fill out a form, but the text inputs have been made very small. They try to fill out the fields but continuously click another field. Eventually causing them to give up.
    While it may not be possible to prevent every frustration and usability issue, websites that are built with accessibility in mind provide a much better experience for individuals with disabilities.

Does your website need to be ADA compliant?

Not all websites need to meet ADA compliance standards but it is our philosophy that every website should consider accessibility. As such we always think about how we can accomplish our clients creative goals while keeping ADA compliance and accessibility in mind. Your website may need to meet ADA compliance standards if you are working in a regulated or government affiliate space. Our experience is that ADA compliance is typically enforced through organizational policy or as a requirement of affiliation with another group that requires partners to be ADA compliant

What happens if you ignore ADA

The first and most detrimental thing that happens when websites are built without consideration for ADA compliance is that users with disabilities suffer. Their experience on a website can be made so difficult or frustrating that they are unable to use it.

Second, you may be targeted by an ADA advocacy group. If your organization receives funding from or has affiliation with government, or partnerships that require ADA compliance you may be contacted by an ADA advocacy group that will start legal proceedings to force you to update the website or make significant improvements.

How do you make a website compliant?

ADA compliance is incredibly complicated. There is no one size fits all solution to accessibility. It must be considered in the design phase of a website project as much as it is considered in the development phase. Our process is as follows:

  • Limit the use of small font sizes
  • Verify color contrast using online contrast ratio tools
  • Add markup to the HTML that helps screen readers understand the website
  • Test the website using accessibility grading tools before launching the website and then solve errors that are presented

Does Motion Tactic guarantee ADA compliance?

No. ADA compliance is just too complicated for us to guarantee that an outside party would have the same interpretation of compliance. We find that organizations that prioritize accessibility and work to ensure that people with disabilities have an equitable experience typically will not be targeted by advocacy groups or required to make updates.