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Illustration highlighting diverse disabilities, underlining the importance of ADA compliance for inclusivity in digital spaces.

From grocery shopping to scheduling your next doctor’s appointment, many people are able to accomplish just about anything by utilizing digital means. However, our accessibility to these services is not equal across all realms or for all people, namely, those with disabilities. As a result, the Americans with Disabilities Act has become increasingly aware of and concerned with how websites and other virtual spaces should perform in compliance with the ADA regulations. This has never been more important to your website or business since website ADA-compliance lawsuits have been on the rise in the past few years with statistics showing over 800 cases in 2017 and an 181% increase to 2,285 cases in 2018.

What does the ADA cover?

The American Disabilities Act covers a wide range of accessibility for people with disabilities. The part of the ADA that is most important to the function of a business is called Title III, which is why accessibility legislation is often referred to more simply as “ADA Title III.”

ADA Title III covers most public areas, like transportation and schools, and all “public accommodations.” This phrase includes businesses, hotels, restaurants, retails stores, and so much more.

ADA-compliance is important to all types and sizes of businesses. Businesses must comply with ADA standards and provide accessible means to their customers if their business reaches over fifteen employees. This is highlighted by the rise of ADA-compliance lawsuits observed over the last few years, as even small, mom-and-pop shops have been impacted by ADA-compliance lawsuits.

How do I Comply with the ADA?

One of the major reasons compliance is so difficult is that the ADA Title III law does not necessarily specify what needs to be done in order to make your website more accessible. The Department of Justice has declined to adopt a legal standard for the ADA, but instead refers back to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. While a lack of an official standard makes ADA-compliance complicated, it also allows businesses to provide accessibility means in a variety of ways. There are four, basic principles of website accessibility that can be utilized when creating accessibility options for your website:

Perceivable – The information on the website and user interface components must be presented in an easily perceivable way. This can be provided in a number of different ways:

  • Text alternatives for non-text content (i.e., text for photographs or other graphics on the website)
  • Captions for videos and other, similar alternatives for multimedia

Operable – The user interface components and navigation must be easily operable. Essentially, this means the website user must be able to operate the interface and the website’s design must not include inoperable components. Operable content includes:

  • All functionality available from a keyboard
  • Content is provided with enough time for the user to read
  • No flashing lights or colors and/or other content that could cause seizures in some users
  • Interface helps users navigate and find content

Understandable – The information and operation of the user interface must be understandable to the user. The content or operation cannot be beyond the user’s understanding, users should be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface. This can be accomplished by:

  • Readable and understandable text through the use of clear of typeset and fonts
  • Content appears and operates in predictable ways
  • Interface helps users avoid and correct mistakes

Robust – The content must be robust enough that it can be reliably interpreted by a great variety of users, including assistive technologies such as screen readers

  • Interface is compatible with current and future user tools

Compliance with ADA standards does not mean sacrificing design elements or identity for the sake of accessibility. We at Inner Spark Creative understand that your brand’s identity is integral to your brand ’s success, which is why accessibility overlays are a great option for your website.

An accessibility overlay, such as the one provided on the Inner Spark Creative website, provides a number of accessibility options that can be personally applied to the website by various users. This interface offers options for different profile experiences such as seizure safe profiles, vision impaired profiles, and even ADHD friendly profiles. Users also have the ability to adjust the website’s font size, change text alignment, and highlight integrated links for ease of access.

Although balancing good web design and accessibility options can seem like a daunting task, Inner Spark Creative believes that a good website needs to fuel brand conversation, drive leads, and invite users of all accessibility to become part of your brand’s community. We can help guide you through this somewhat complicated, digital landscape and ensure your business’s website finds that perfect balance between an appealing, online presence and ADA-compliance.

About the Author...
Inner Spark Creative Interns
Inner Spark Creative Interns
Inner Spark Creative is proud to foster the next generation of digital media experts through our comprehensive internship program. Our interns, primarily sourced from Auburn University, bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to our projects. As part of their hands-on learning experience, they contribute valuable content to our platform, demonstrating the skills and knowledge they've acquired. Inner Spark Creative is committed to contributing to the education and professional development of our interns, preparing them for successful careers in digital media and beyond.

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