Duncan McCall

Is your website ADA compliant? Lawyers are asking.


Opportunistic lawyers constantly comb the web to find non-ADA compliant websites for their fill-in-the-blank demand letters. They can get thousands from you, and you will still have to get your site compliant.

Because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990, it doesn’t mention websites; however, Title III of the ADA has been interpreted by US courts to apply to websites. This means that the content and functions of most websites must be accessible to those with disabilities, just like other public accommodations.

The standard criteria to gauge accessibility – the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA – is determined by 38 requirements. You can read the detailed requirements in the WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria, but the highlights include:

  • Your website must be fully accessible without a mouse, by using the arrow or tab buttons.
  • Users must be able to skip long menus or extraneous content to get to the heart of your content.
  • The site should have a consistent navigation and flow.
  • Meaningful images on your website must have alternative text.
  • All videos on your website must have closed captioning and full audio descriptions.
  • Important elements of your website should be labeled. Links and headers should clearly indicate what to expect.
  • All fonts and links should have sufficient contrast with their background color.
  • Forms must be labeled clearly and fully controllable by the user.
  • Text should be able to be resized up to 200% without any loss of functionality.

You can use several tools, such as WAVE, to evaluate your site for compliance. But keep in mind that these algorithms will give both false positives and negatives. To get a better idea of the difficulty in true accessibility, download JAWS, a screen reader for users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing the screen or navigating with a mouse, and try to use your website with the monitor off.

What do you need to do?

The WCAG criteria are not the law, only a guideline to gauge compliance. The important thing is to get started. Being able to demonstrate a plan to meet compliance can be enough to keep the lawsuits at bay.

Start by adding alternative text (alt tags) to every meaningful image on your website. If your website has a lot of pages with images, apply alt tags to the most trafficked pages on your site and work from there, then work on the navigation.

Or contact us. We’ll run a series of checks on your site and offer a prioritized remediation plan. For a limited time, this initial consultation is free and with no obligation. Our web development team understands how to make your website meet compliance standards, but more importantly how to make sure it’s actually usable to people with disabilities.


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