Your ADA-Compliant Website
If you own a website related to the health industry, chances are you received a notification asking you, selling you, or just informing you about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the importance of complying.
While the subject is buzzing online, very few website owners actually clearly understand what it means and what to do next.
The purpose of this article is to clarify what ADA means for your website and the role of the Google Accessibility Audit in testing your website and providing opportunities to enhance the experience for users of assistive technology.
The data provided in this article comes from Government websites, Google, and other sources.
A brief history of ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990, was modified to include mobile apps and websites. Specifically, Title III of the ADA has taken an official stance on how websites should be accessible for disabled users.
On the other hand, a fragment of the Title II of the same Act states that:
“Although the language of the ADA does not explicitly mention the Internet, the Department has taken the position that title II covers Internet Web site access. Public entities that choose to provide services through web-based applications (e.g., renewing library books or driver’s licenses) or that communicate with their constituents or provide information through the Internet must ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to such services or information, unless doing so would result in an undue financial and administrative burden or a fundamental alteration in the nature of the programs, services, or activities being offered… Additional guidance is available in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).”Title II Document (Learn more…)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) was developed and is maintained by the Web Accessibility Initiative — a subgroup of the World Wide Web Consortium. This consortium as we know is the one ruling the web universe, or sort of.
Titles II and III of the ADA are difficult to understand and are updated frequently. In general, they state that websites are part of Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities and the specifics of these website rules must be established. These rules include:
- Your website must comply with the ADA regulations
- The best way to comply with the regulations is to follow the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines
Tools to Evaluate ADA Compliance
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is also a lengthy document or set of pages. In order to understand the state of your website, we recommend having the site scanned by web tools that can provide an evaluation. We recommend two that, in our opinion, have a proven reputation. These tools will not solve your problems, but they will give you a detailed report of what should be fixed.
- Google Lighthouse: Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO, and more.
- Web accessibility website: This web accessibility test (By Level Access) will determine how closely your website complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standards. These standards are published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and are referenced in accessibility legislation around the world.
It is important to understand that the tools should be used in conjunction with manual revisions as the Google Accessibility test clarifies in the test results page: “Additional items to manually check. These items address areas which an automated testing tool cannot cover.“ (Do not underestimate the power of disclaimers :-)).
If you want to go deeper, I would recommend the Government website Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities where you will find:
“Information for web developers interested in making their web pages as accessible as possible, including the current version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (and associated checklists), can be found at www.w3c.org/WAI/Resources.”WAI Resources (Learn more…)
The Google Accessibility Audit
The Google Accessibility Audit is very simple to use and it is included with Chrome, your favorite web browser. To access it, just navigate to the page you want to test and follow these steps:
- Right-click and hit “Inspect”
- In the Chrome DevTools menu select “Lighthouse”
- As the Categories check only “Accessibility” (Otherwise the test will take longer)
- As the Device select “Mobile” (This should be the focus of all your efforts)
- Click “Generate report“
The recommendation from Google is to execute the test from an “incognito” window for more accurate results.
The results will be an “Accessibility score,” a list of issues to solve, marked in red, as well as the “passed audits” and also a “not applicable” section (not sure about the reason for this last one).
Every website is built with specific functionalities, depending on industry and type of website: Informative, Product Store, Services, etc… Bottom line: pay attention to the issues marked in red. I’m not going to detail every issue in this article but your website developer should.
Summarizing ADA compliance and best Accessibility Tests
The answer to the question if Google Accessibility score represents ADA compliance is yes, but not 100%. Let’s say your fix all the problems found in the test and you obtain a score of 100. Although your website passed automated tests, there are additional manual efforts required that are not detected with tools. You can always use more than one accessibility test, but what I would recommend is the following combination:
- Use at least 2 accessibility tests (more will require too much time and resources involved)
- Get both tests to meet the 100% score
- Use an extra AI accessibility software to help you cover what you may have missed
Extra AI Accessibility Software
The cause for extra accessibility software is to ensure you are legally covering as much as possible, protecting your business from possible lawsuits.
There are a few of these software in the market. I would recommend two because of their ability to use AI to scan and change your content automatically, rather than a lot of manual work. I also included some pricing details, pros, and cons, etc. Please be aware that I’m not promoting the use of these software’s, only recommending them as part of an overall strategy. You must decide what is best for your website based on your individual needs.
AI Accessibility Software Comparison
|Accessibility by UserWay||Web Accessibility by AccessiBe|
|Pros||1. Another way for site owners looking to improve accessibility by utilizing automation in WordPress. Without changing your website’s code, UserWay’s AI-assisted scanning service monitors your site for accessibility problems, focusing especially on keyboard-only navigation. |
2. It will seamlessly detect any issues found on the website and help us fix them to make our website more accessible. We can use this plugin to let our visitors navigate our website without using a mouse.
3. Also offers a free widget that can make basic accessibility adjustments to your website. With it, we can control colors and color contrast, keyboard navigation, focus, and more.
4. It will work on the website without refactoring the website’s existing code and will increase compliance with WCAG 2.1, ATAG 2.0, ADA, & Section 508 requirements.
|1. It’s a SaaS that improves web accessibility. This service leverages AI technology to scan the website for accessibility issues on both the back end and front end of the site. |
2. It learns the purpose of the page elements and makes adjustments to alt tags, ARIA attributes, icons, and buttons, forms, and more for a better, more accessible user experience.
3. Also alters the page structures to make them more keyboard-navigable, including modifying dropdowns, pop-ups, forms, buttons, and skip links.
4. The service conducts daily scans for content changes too, reducing friction when we make changes to our site.
|Cons||1. UserWay is a paid subscription service with three monthly plans priced at $49 per month, $129 per month, and $329 per month. |
2. For a full rundown of the differences between the UserWay service and the free widget, see UserWay’s compassion chart.
|1. The free WordPress plugin only connects its services to our WordPress website. |
2. AccessiBe is priced on four plans: Standard ($49 per month), Large ($149 per month), Huge ($199 per month), and Jumbo ($349 per month). All plans offer a seven-day free trial.
ADA compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design, which states that all electronic and information technology (like websites) must be accessible to people with disabilities.
Google Accessibility Test and WebAccessibility Test are both very good even if they cannot guaranteed full ADA compliance.
A set of guidelines and best practices put together by accessibility experts to address what “accessibility” means in a methodical way.
According to Google’s definition, when we say a site is accessible, we mean that the site’s content is available, and its functionality can be operated by literally anyone.
Accessible Rich Internet Applications are markup attributes in the code to help assistive technology to function properly. ARIA provides several mechanisms for adding labels and descriptions to elements. In fact, ARIA is the only way to add accessible help or description text. The “Alt” attribute in images is an example of ARIA.
Short, high-level summary of what you need to implement in a website to make the content: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust
Just one URL at a time.
Not convinced of what to do regarding ADA?
We can help. Our company specializes in building and optimize websites for the health industry. We know what we do, give us a call at (305) 763-8011 and ask for ADA compliance. Or send us a request by filling out the form below.