Over 2000 companies have been sued for accessibility issues during the last few years. Failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can turn into an expensive and unexpected venture for your business. However, that’s not the worst of it. The real damage of an ADA lawsuit is having your app, website, or brand name negatively affected, leading to further losses to your customer base and a lingering negative public image.
It has never been more important to include accessibility options and features in websites and apps than now. An inclusive online presence is no longer an accessory and sign of goodwill and moral correctness; it’s the law. So if you want to avoid the PR and legal issues of an ADA lawsuit, we compiled seven ways to help you avoid lawsuits.
All Content Must Have a Text Alternative
Many businesses rely heavily on images, flashing promotions, and visually stunning effects. While these effects work with many customers, they often fail to engage with visually impaired customers.
Developers and businesses must remember that visually impaired customers use screen readers to navigate their apps and websites. Therefore, having comprehensive and detailed text content on your website is crucial. Otherwise, customers using screen readers will have difficulty navigating it, often getting frustrated and giving up on using your website. This issue is especially prominent in e-commerce websites, which leads to unsatisfied customers and lost sales.
The whole issue can be avoided by having an alternative version of your website rich in text and descriptions. Alternatively, you can use descriptive alt text for every element that isn’t explained in the text. If the description becomes too long, you can always use text descriptions under images, which work wonders for screen readers.
Captions and Transcriptions
Another way to expand your user base while increasing your ADA compliance ranking is to ensure that transcription or captioning is available in all audio or video content on your website. Adding transcriptions to audio content helps hard-of-hearing customers and allows users to easily find pieces of the content using their browser search tool.
Closed captions are another effective way to help hard-of-hearing customers, leading to greater traffic and converted sales. However, it’s essential to note that closed captions help users watch videos without audio or in a noisy environment. In addition, it aids non-native speakers of that language in better understanding each spoken word.
Social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and TikTok are prime examples of this phenomenon. Many users check videos, stories, and reels with the audio turned off, only reading the captions.
Attention to Color and Text
Color blindness and low vision are widespread, and using specific colors together like red/green, blue/purple, or green/black alienates visually impaired customers.
A great way to improve text accessibility on visited websites is not relying on colors to identify links. Instead, we recommend adding an underline when hovering over a link or having the outline always visible, a quality of life change that helps all users identify links.
Being careful about text overlaid on images is another excellent way to increase accessibility score. Contrast greatly helps visually impaired users. When an image doesn’t have enough contrast, it’s good practice to lower background opacity to help text readability. Another alternative is to have text with a solid outline or background shadow, which produces a similar result.
Additionally, ADA-optimized websites should ensure users can navigate the website’s content by using larger fonts and detailed information for screen readers. For instance, adding detailed header information in the page’s code to titles like “Header 1: Title” significantly improves accessibility for screen reader users.
Gather Customer Feedback
Companies could have avoided several ADA lawsuits with some communication and feedback. While it’s the law to keep your website accessible, users are often glad to give you feedback to improve in areas where they may feel your website or app lacks.
Keeping communication open and accessible is beneficial to your website and business. Users will help you understand their experiences, obstacles, and issues when utilizing your website. If users often report a specific accessibility issue, you can use this data to make precise changes to appease users and increase your ADA score.
Users with motor or visual disabilities usually require websites to be completely accessible through the keyboard only. Optimized websites allow users to navigate by using the arrow keys, tabbing to highlight different options, or some key combinations.
To further aid users tabbing through websites, buttons should have a descriptive title instead of a single word for clarity. For instance, “Next” isn’t descriptive or distinguishable enough for screen readers. So instead, add a “Next Slide” description to the button, or add extra code to the page with an alt description for buttons for the intended purpose if you prefer keeping the button titled Next visually.
Give Control to The User
Accessibility done right gives several options and configurations to users. A well-built website that follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) has:
- High contrast mode;
- Font size changer;
- Closed Captions;
- Multiple language options;
- Time limit extensions;
- Shortcut and key remapping.
While some users may not utilize all available options, they’ll be thankful to have the possibility to do it, which helps avoid lawsuits and improve customer retention.
If you’d like more ways to give control to users, our guide for ADA compliance goes into detail with several in-depth options for accessibility customization.
Forms Done Right
Instead of using low contrast placeholders inside form boxes, use labels like us at Idea Maker. Another way to increase the accessibility of forms is avoiding colors in required fields and opting for icons or asterisks to signal mandatory fields instead.
Here’s an example of one of the forms we use, with both asterisks to signal mandatory fields and labels to avoid contrast issues.
Hire a Professional to Audit Your App or Website
The best way to ensure your website or app is ADA compliant is by hiring an already established business experienced in developing accessibility solutions to audit your website. This way, you ensure you’re getting the highest rating possible with lower investments. However, keep in mind that accessibility is an ongoing responsibility that requires maintenance as your website grows and changes.
Nowadays, both customers and law demand businesses to be conscious and inclusive. Understanding if your app or website is inclusive is critical to avoid lawsuits and please customers. Investing in accessibility isn’t only morally correct but an investment that paints your brand in a positive light.
We have outlined some ways you can avoid ADA lawsuits. However, if you want full coverage, detailed audits, and accessibility maintenance for your website or application, contact our experts at Idea Maker today.