A guide to ADA compliance

Rest assured that your new website is ADA Compliant, but here's a little information on what that means.

To be ADA-compliant, your property management website must be free of barriers that would make it difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to make use of them. Having an inaccessible website can grow into a major source of problems and missed opportunities for your business.

The internet, in its current state, is difficult (and sometimes nearly impossible) for individuals with disabilities to access. However, this is not the only reason that accessibility is important. There are additional, far-reaching advantages to creating universally accessible websites, which can benefit not only people with disabilities and those with websites but the majority of internet users in general:

  • Avoids Legal Complications: If you build an accessible website, you can preempt any potential legal issues, such as claims of discrimination against people with disabilities, from arising. This will also ensure your organization can work with different groups or government agencies that require websites to be universally accessible.
  • Creates a Better Site: Generally, universally accessible websites are of a higher caliber. Following guidelines for ADA compliance can help developers build a better website, as the guidelines tend to overlap with web design best practices.
  • Improves Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Accessible websites can improve your search engine rankings. As mentioned above, Google gives priority to sites that are accessible; in addition, many accessibility features make it easier for search engines bots to evaluate your site, which can further boost your rankings
  • Broadens Audiences: If your site is accessible, more people can use it. This can lead to more traffic, more users, and ultimately, more customers. While accessibility does not guarantee an increase in profits, it does provide an opportunity to garner a larger audience of users who may be interested in your business.
  • Generates Positive PR: If your website is accessible, it can give a boost to your organization’s reputation, help you stand out from your competition, and demonstrate your passion for and dedication to being inclusive of everyone.
  • Improves Usability for All: Accessibility makes websites easier to use, but that doesn’t only apply to people with disabilities, as non-disabled people can also benefit from sites that are more usable.
  • Normalizes Accessibility: Websites designed with ADA compliance in mind help normalize accessibility. This, in turn, can help those working to meet accessibility needs across a variety of platforms.

Website Compliance

Compliance is not just about physically disabled users, it is about website accessibility for ALL users. What are plaintiffs using as their reasons for lawsuits? Inability to access all the website content., specifically, anything tied to a process.

When websites aren’t coded correctly, screen readers get stuck, simply saying “image” or “blank” aloud, without continuing across the page. Proper headers and text embedded behind images help visually impaired users navigate sites.

Compliance is designed to help two types of users:

  • Physical - disabled users relying on screen readers and accessibility other tools.
  • Financial - users with limited web access and tools. Users do not own a computer or are limited to public machines or mobile devices that may not have all the required tools installed. For example, Adobe Reader.

Below are key elements we handle when building ALL our websites

Web Accessibility for Persons Who Are Vision Impaired

Though the elements listed here can be useful for anyone, people who have visual impairments—including people who are blind, have limited vision or are colorblind—have specific needs in terms of web accessibility and can benefit greatly from the following:

  • Alternate Image Text: Images and videos on your site should have descriptive text attached to them. This allows screen readers to read that text, which then describes the image or video out loud. Good graphic design is more than just visually appealing content; it should always include this text in order to engage every visitor that comes to the site.
  • Color Coding and Contrast: Color should not be the sole element used to convey meaning or information. There should also be adequate contrast between the color of the font and of the page, in order to make the text easier to read. You should also offer multiple color schemes so users can pick the one that they can see best.
  • Descriptive Titles, Headers, and Links: All pages should have unique titles and headers, and all hyperlinks should have unique anchor text. Further, all titles, headers, and links should be descriptive of the associated information. Headers should also be formatted with heading style designations instead of changes in font, color, or size. 
  • Text Instead of Images for Important Information: Do not convey important or critical information with images; always use text, so text-to-speech readers can read it aloud. If you do have an important image or graphic, be sure to include alternate text or a description.
  • Screen Reader Accessibility: Design your website so it can be easily read by screen readers and text-to-speech programs. Links, lists, and headers should be clearly identified with descriptive, non-generic terms. All language on the page should be concise and easy to read and appropriately identified so screen readers can clearly communicate the information on the page.
  • Zoom Functions: Users should be able to use the zoom feature on your site, both on desktop and on mobile. Do not disable zoom functionality on either version of your site, and ensure that your layout can adapt to up to at least 200 percent zoom on desktop.

Web Accessibility for the Hearing Impaired

There are also ways you can improve your site’s accessibility for the hearing impaired community. Web accessibility best practices for these individuals include:

  • Audio Transcripts: For all audio clips and videos on your site, provide a text-based transcript for users. You should also take care to ensure these transcripts are accessible to screen readers.
  • Closed Captioning and Subtitles on Videos: You should provide closed captioning or subtitles, regardless of spoken language, on all of your videos. When using automated captioning software, make sure the captions are accurate and update them if necessary.
  • Multiple Contact Options: When listing your contact information on your site, offer multiple methods of contact. Include your phone number and email address, at the very least. You could also provide a web form and physical or mailing address if needed.
  • Simple English: Avoid jargon, uncommon words, and overly complex sentence structures. For many deaf and hard of hearing people, sign language is their first language, not English.