What is ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that helps people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. For small business owners, this law also includes your website. ADA compliance for websites means making your website easy to use for people with different kinds of disabilities, such as seeing, hearing, or moving.
Why Small Business Owners Need to Know About Website ADA Compliance
If you own a small business, your website is like a digital front door to your shop or service. Just like you want everyone to be able to walk into your store, you want everyone to be able to use your website. When your website is ADA compliant, it means more people can learn about your business and buy your products or services.
4 Key Points Small Business Owners Should Know
- Easy to See and Read: Your website should have text that is easy to read and pictures that are clear. People who have trouble seeing should be able to make the text bigger or change the colors if they need I’ve written before about white space being a design element. It’s even more important here. Adding more space in areas like text and links is important in regard to the ADA law. Google also checks for space in your navigation for mobility tests. Many of your themes today will allow you to adjust for this or even plan for it right from the start.
- Works with Assistive Technology: Some people use special tools to help them use the internet, like screen readers that read the text out Your website should work well with these tools. As the popularity of this law takes hold you should take the time needed to address certain items on your website. Many site themes and plugins have extra fields for screen reader text. Most important are link text, form fields, and images. With images many of the readers use the alt text. Which you should be using for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) already. But be sure when adding your keywords to be sure it makes sense to describe the image. You can achieve both with not much effort.
- Easy to Navigate: Your website should be simple to move around in, even for someone who can’t use a They should be able to use keyboard shortcuts to go to different pages or fill out forms. Many of the disability features for movement use keystrokes such as the tab key. You can apply tab order in menu navigation to assist in this area.
- Videos and Audio Should be Accessible: If you have videos, they should have captions for people who can’t If you have audio messages, consider having a text version too.
A STEP FORWARD IS PROGRESS
Steps Small Business Owners Can Take
Making your website ADA compliant is a great way to show that you care about all of your customers. It’s not just about following a law; it’s about being welcoming and inclusive. Following are some key tips to making your website ADA accessible.
Check Your Website—Look at your website and think about someone with a disability using it. What might be hard for them? Are there parts of the website they can’t use? I mentioned the areas to think about such as seeing, hearing, or moving. Hearing and moving are fairly obvious but with seeing there is more to think about. You have to consider not only size and spacing but also color because of color blindness. And with that, there are various forms of color blindness. Luckily there are tests you can run on your website to help with this. One such tool would be toptal.com/designers/color filter.
Learn About Web Accessibility—There are rules for making websites accessible, like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
(WCAG). You can learn about these guidelines and use them to make your website better. If you are using WordPress on your website, there is a plugin that can help with most of this to help you be more compliant. The most used website as of this article is wordpress.org/plugins/pojo- accessibility/.
Make Changes Step-by-Step—You might not be able to fix everything at once. Start with the most important changes, like making sure your text is easy to read and your website can be used without a mouse. This is true with any part of your website. Fix what you can as time allows. As the saying goes, a step forward is progress. And if you’ve been marketing very long you know it’s a good idea to test everything. As you make these changes, you will want to make sure there are not conflicts with other parts of your site. You should also check how your website looks in other browsers and devices as these changes can affect your appearance in different ways, depending on both of those items. Remember, you don’t have to do this all yourself. If you own Apple products, reach out to a friend who might be on android or PC and have them look over your site and report back to you. Of course, this is always a good rule of thumb with any site design you do.
Ask for Feedback—Talk to people with disabilities and ask them how your website works for them. They can give you good ideas on what to improve. That is the best feedback you can get. If you don’t know anyone with disabilities, reach out to connections on your social media accounts. I always prefer human tests over computer or AI testing but if you need a resource, one place you can turn to is webaccessibility.com for a free test.
Stay Updated—The internet changes all the time, and so do the rules for website accessibility. Keep learning and update your website so it stays friendly for everyone. You don’t have to be online very long to know that things change quickly. Google updates for search results and creating ads. Software changes. Laws and standards change. It’s next to impossible to keep up with absolutely everything. But as I mentioned earlier, make the changes you can. Use resources you trust and follow key sites or resources such as Reddit or other favorite discussion boars.
By taking steps to improve your website, you’re opening your digital doors to everyone, and that’s good for the community and good for business. And with these types of changes to your website, you may find that these ongoing changes help with your SEO as well as improved conversion for all visitors, not just those with disabilities.
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