Why Do You Need An ADA Compliant Website?

why you need ada compliant website

Understanding how the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) works with websites can be very infuriating, especially when you are not a lawyer or experienced in website accessibility. You must go through a lot of legal jargon to understand what you must do to make your site compliant. 

In this article, you will find out what ADA compliance means, what types of websites must respect the law, and how you can adapt your website to these guidelines. 

You have come to the right place because we will help you understand exactly what is ADA compliant when it comes to websites and what improvements to bring to your site to make sure it is accessible for everyone. Let's start with the basics of site compliance. 

What Is ADA Compliance? 

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a US civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on different abilities and disabilities. It was instituted in 1990 when it added that organizations must provide appropriate accommodation to people with disabilities. It's based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which contains protections against discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or nationality. 

The United States Department of Justice created guidelines for public organizations in 2010. Public organizations should follow this guide to make themselves more accessible to people with disabilities, including those using smart devices or computers. 

ADA compliance (Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design) is an effort to make any organization more inclusive and accessible to all people. 

For a website to be ADA compliant, it needs to be available for people browsing the web who need or use assistive devices. In other words, if your website can't be accessed by people with certain disabilities, it's not compliant with this law. 

Considering how legislation is written, if your website isn't ADA compliant, it's interpreted as active discrimination. In short, it means you're at risk of being sued. ADA compliance mandates that websites include access for all people, particularly those with disabilities. 

The ADA works alongside WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a list of guidelines used to improve accessibility. The WCAG guidelines mainly focus on HTML accessibility across platforms. 

Is ADA Compliance Compulsory For Websites? 

Most sites are required to be ADA-compliant in 2022, but there are exceptions, of course. Most official sites that people visit every day should follow the ADA guidelines. They are mandatory for websites owned or funded by a state or local government and for business websites. 

Businesses count as places of public accommodation, so they should be ADA-compliant. That's why most ADA-related lawsuits are filed against businesses. UsableNet says that in early 2022 there were up to 10 lawsuits filed per day, with a 23% increase in digital accessibility lawsuits over 2021. 

Lawsuits against government websites have a specific name. They're called Title II claims. They refer to a section in the act that oversees activities, programs, and services provided by state and local authorities. 

Cases against business sites are Title III claims because the Act's Title III refers to public accommodation and commercial services. 

However, it is worth mentioning that the ADA doesn't set official rules for web accessibility. There are two reasons for it. 

The first is the year the ADA was signed into law. It happened in 1990, long before HTML became a thing and people started using the Internet daily. The law was meant for a physical environment and later applied to virtual spaces. 

The second reason is that the Department of Justice leaves setting rules to the hands of Congress. The DoJ enforces the ADA on business and government-related websites, but chooses not to weigh in on everything else. 

That is why it is essential to keep an eye on industry guidelines and trends, to be up to date on rules and laws that apply to your business, including your website. 

Who Should Adhere To ADA Compliance Requirements? 

The ADA applies to any electronic information and technology, meaning any website. ADA compliance applies to the following: 

• local and state government institutions 
• organizations with activities for the public interest (transportation, banks, schools, restaurants, law offices, healthcare, postal service, etc.) 
• private organizations with 15 employees or more 
• businesses seen as places of public accommodation. 

Even if ADA standards don't necessarily apply to your business and website, it's a safe bet to be compliant and inclusive. 

What Happens When You Don't Have An ADA-Compliant Website? 

It is possible that you haven't thought about the ADA compliance standards concerning your business. Even if you didn't intend for your website to miss ADA standards, it's possible to get in trouble. It's not necessarily mandatory to have an ADA-compliant website, because it's not very clear how these rules apply to sites. 

Many states have adopted their own accessibility laws and guidelines. Because the number of lawsuits on this matter has increased in recent years, many plaintiffs have been successful. Because there are no clear guidelines to follow, it's probably best not to lean on the side of making mistakes. 

How can you tell if your website is compliant with ADA guidelines? It's simple. Follow the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. They are accessibility principles that have been active in the European Union since 1999. 

They are frequently updated, with the most recent upgrade being from 2018. However, keep in mind that these guidelines are more of a list of recommended actions rather than an enforced law in 2022. They are a strong model for accessibility laws globally, including in the US. 

For your website to be considered ADA-compliant, you should be at level AA, which is the second out of three existing ratings. 

How To Get Your Website Up To ADA Compliance Standards 

You need an ADA-compliant website to make sure as many people as possible can access your content. And to be safe from lawsuits, of course. Let's learn more about the levels of compliance and areas you can focus on to bring your website up to date. 

Levels Of Compliance 

When optimizing your website, use the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. They have a tiered system that breaks accessibility issues into three levels. Here they are: 

A – website accessible to some people. It is of the utmost importance to work on it. Disabled visitors can find it difficult to navigate. 

AA – website accessible to almost all people. The site is more functional. It addresses some areas where you can still make improvements to help disabled users enjoy the full website experience. It's considered a standard for commercial sites. 

AAA – website accessible to all users. It's the greatest goal you can aspire to, the highest standard for fine-tuning any issues found. 

You can start by making your website meet AA level standards. But it's great to build or adapt your website to comply with regulations and guidelines. 

What To Focus On 

You can make things easier for yourself by figuring out what your website issues are. Accessibility problems can be categorized into four groups. To improve your website's ADA-compliance status, you'll consider the following: 

• Perceivable Problems – Affecting someone's ability to find and process data (like audio descriptions or closed captioning for videos). 

• Operable Problems – Impacting how someone navigates a site (for example, navigating using the keyboard). 

• Understandable Issues – Relating to someone's capability to understand how navigation and information work (providing instructions near site tools, menus, and forms). 

• Robust Problems – Can your website upgrade to meet the different needs of everyone using it, including those with disabilities? Give all users the same experience by keeping your content delivery universal. 

There is a high chance the ADA guidelines on online accessibility will remain vague, at least for the foreseeable future. So equal access to information and online content remains a major concern for Americans. 

Instead of looking for a clear set of national guidelines, staying true to WCAG standards remains the accessible option for most. It's smart to avoid accessibility lawsuits and the possible negative implications, but it's also the right thing to do. 

Guidelines On Achieving ADA Compliance 

What does having an accessible website mean? How can you update your website to reflect accessibility? It is essential to keep your team briefed on accessible measures. Keep these things in mind to get started: 


You can increase conversions and improve visitor interactions by keeping your website accessible to all users. Consider all types of disabilities: cognitive, motor, hearing, and visual. Of course, website accessibility is a complex topic, so we will focus on three main areas. 

Keyboard Navigation 

It's an important aspect, especially for someone with motor or visual disabilities. Someone who can't use a mouse or who navigates using a touchscreen should still be able to do it effortlessly. That is why you need to make sure people can tab through buttons, menus, and other navigational elements. Each element should have some focus that pinpoints where the user is on each page. 

CTA Buttons 

Call-to-action buttons are essential for any business's success. That's why it's important to make them accessible. Your CTAs should always be clear and easy to understand. 

Form Labels 

To make forms accessible to all users, label them. For example, when someone has to put in a password of at least 8 characters, include that as text underneath that field label. The viewer will clearly see what they're supposed to do. 

Focus on making forms easy to understand and logical to follow. Of course, make them accessible with a keyboard. That way, viewers can tab through fields. And provide instructions on filling them out. 


When writing content for websites and other online platforms, it's essential to focus on accessible content for everyone. 


Use a straightforward structure when writing your content. That means using heading tags instead of bolder and bigger fonts. Categorize the different content sections logically (H1, H2, H3, etc.). It makes content easier to follow. 


When linking to pages, don't just use the simplest link text. Instead, develop descriptive text to help users with visual impairments access those links. 


Content that is easy to read and follow is especially important for people with cognitive disabilities. Of course, it makes scanning through information easier for any user. Keep sentences short and focus on the data. 

Try to use bullet points, bold keywords and summaries. Begin with the most important data and end your articles with less essential info. Avoid complicated words or jargon but keep things friendly. 


"Accessible design" means any visual aspect meant to be as usable as possible, for everyone. 


Make them more accessible for everyone by adding subtitles, transcripts, and audio descriptions. 


Include alt text for every image describing what's in the photo. Viewers can read the description when they come across an image. It's useful for those with a visual impairment, for instance. 


Using color to communicate is a popular marketing strategy, but around 4% of people worldwide have a form of color blindness. That means you must use color, contrast, and patterns harmoniously to be inclusive. 


The font you are using can make things easier to read. Sans serif fonts are the most useful because they don't have decorative elements. Use at least size 12 and bold your content to add emphasis. 


Sometimes, becoming ADA compliant is a complex process that means completely overhauling your website. It can be costly and tiresome, but it's necessary to ensure you are offering all your users the same experience. 

Ultimately, ADA compliance is great for your website. It makes your company inclusive, leading to more business and a more positive reputation.

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