Web Accessibility and ADA Compliance: Everything You Need to Know

Learn all about Web accessibility and ADA compliance.

Running an eCommerce business, especially small ones, can be a real challenge. They need to create a website that appeals to their target audience and also captures their attention.

An eCommerce website is not just about selling products and services—it's also about making sure that customers have a good experience while they're on your site. A website should be easy to navigate, easy to read, and quick to load; web accessibility in eCommerce is important.

And hence, eCommerce businesses can't afford to ignore the ADA and the regulations that govern it. The law has been around since 1990, but the e-commerce industry has only recently begun to embrace it.

If you want to attract more customers and increase your revenue, then you need an accessible website. An ADA-compliant eCommerce website is not only beneficial for disabled people but also for all other visitors. Many e-commerce companies have websites that are not ADA compliant. This can result in lost sales and a tarnished brand image.

But what is the ADA? How does it affect your e-commerce business? 

In this article we will discuss why eCommerce businesses need an ADA-compliant website; how you can improve your website accessibility; and what you need to do if you want to maintain your current site but still comply with the law.

What is ADA website compliance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA requires that businesses and public places be accessible to people with disabilities.

It’s important for businesses to make sure their websites are ADA-compliant so they don’t run afoul of the law.

This guide walks through how to make your website ADA compliant, from making sure you have a clear call to action, to making sure you have the right colors and fonts so that people with visual impairments can read your site.

This can be achieved by following WCAG 2.0 AA standards which ensure that your website is accessible for all users regardless of their ability or disability.

What is WCAG 2.0 AA?

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA are the standards by which websites should be judged in order to achieve accessibility compliance. These guidelines are published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). They are often referred to as guidelines as they set out best practices rather than requirements.

Even today, over 97% of the world's top websites don't offer full accessibility.

It’s important to understand that ADA compliance doesn’t mean you have to overhaul your entire website, but rather just make the necessary changes that enable disabled users to experience your content.

But there are ways to make your website ADA compliant without having to spend a lot of money or time on it.

Reasons why eCommerce businesses need an ADA-compliant website

A website is one of the most important assets of an e-commerce business. It’s a tool that helps you to communicate with your customers and build a relationship with them. Having a website that is ADA-compliant can be beneficial for your business in several ways such as -

1. Wider range of potential customers

If you have an ADA-compliant website, it means that it provides equal access to all users regardless of their disabilities (visual impairment, hearing impairment, or physical disabilities). Therefore, you can expect to get a larger audience for your business.

In addition to broadening your audience base, having an ADA-compliant e-commerce website will also improve user experience as well as increase conversion rates by making it easier for customers with disabilities to browse through your site without any difficulty whatsoever. 

That’s because they can now read all information clearly on-screen without needing any additional help from others around them or relying on their memory too much when it comes to remembering specific information from the previous page before moving on to another one.

Here are some figures you should look at -

  • Over 60 million adults in the US live with a disability.
  • Globally, at least 2.2 million people have some sort of vision impairment.
  • Globally, over 460 million people have a hearing disability.
  • 2 in 5 adults aged 65 years and older have a disability.
  • 75% of Americans with disabilities report using the internet on a daily basis.

2. Helps build brand credibility and improves brand reputation

It enhances the credibility of your brand, which will help you grow as an e-commerce business over time. 

With the increase in online frauds and cyber attacks lately, both consumers and your own business will thank you later for securing all grounds. 

3. Avoid potential lawsuits

Since September 2010, ADA is projecting various regulations for E-commerce websites.

If your website is not compliant with ADA then you may face legal issues under federal law which may result in hefty fines or other drastic steps if you do not take proper measures immediately to make your website ADA-compliant.

Did you know that over 70% of the ADA-based lawsuits on web accessibility were filed against eCommerce sites?

If someone visits your website and finds it difficult to use because of their disability, they could sue you for discrimination under ADA guidelines if they were unable to complete their purchase because of the difficulty accessing your site's content or functionality through their device.

4. Boost website SEO

In today's digital world, search engine optimization (SEO) can make or break your business. If you want more people to find your website online, then you need a good SEO strategy in place and this includes making sure that your site meets all accessibility requirements set by Google and other search engines such as Bing.

SEO experts believe that if your website is ADA-compliant, then it will be easier for people to find you in search engines like Google and Bing. This will give you an edge over your competitors who do not have an ADA-compliant website.

How to make your eCommerce website more accessible?

Your website is an important part of your business. It’s where customers can find out about you and your products, learn more about your company, and make a purchase. But what happens when someone with disabilities visits your website?

If they want to buy something from your store or service their account, they may have trouble doing so due to the design of your site being inaccessible. 

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to make your entire website accessible at once, but rather take small steps toward making it more accessible over time. Let us look at a few tips that can help make sure yours is accessible and ADA-compliant.

1. Provide keyboard navigation

One of the most important features of an eCommerce website is to be accessible to everyone. This means that a user should be able to navigate your website using only the keyboard, without having to rely on a mouse.

The keyboard navigation can be enabled by adding aria-label attributes to all interactive elements (link, button, etc.) so that screen readers could announce them when they are focused on them. A screen reader would also announce the element's name as soon as it's focused, which allows users with visual impairment to locate links quickly and interact with them easily.

2. Work on your website’s text-to-speech

Most visually impaired users use speech readers to help them understand and navigate through a website.

Here are some things you can do to make your eCommerce website more accessible -

  • Use plain language 
  • Keep headings consistent throughout the site
  • Use bulleted lists instead of paragraphs wherever possible
  • Use section headings wherever possible so users can scan through content quickly and easily
  • Use image alt text - if there are graphics on your website that don't convey any meaning by themselves (such as icons or logos), then you should include alternative text that describes what they are when rendered in an image tag.
  • Use descriptive links

3. Utilize contrasting colors

One way to make your site more user-friendly is by using contrasting colors. For example, use light text on a dark background instead of dark text on a light background. This makes it easier for someone with low vision to read the content on the page and navigate through different sections easily. 

Additionally, avoid using similar colors for links and buttons.

The WCAG 2.0 recommends using a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text.

While this is an easy change to make to your website that can go a long way, over 86% of home pages on the internet still use low contrast text that fell below the WCAG 2 AA thresholds.

4. Enable subtitles and transcripts

If your website contains video or audio content, you can use subtitles and transcripts to make it more accessible for hearing-impaired users.

For example, if you have an image slider on your homepage that includes audio narrations, provide captions so people who don’t hear well can still understand what’s being said in each slide.

5. Avoid pop-ups, autoplay, and unnecessary animations

Pop-ups and animations can be very distracting for users with cognitive disabilities or attention issues like ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or other learning disabilities. 

They also prevent users from accessing content that is important for their needs and may cause them to leave the page entirely. To keep your users on track, avoid using these features on your eCommerce site.

According to WCAG 2.0, no website should use elements that flash more than three times per second. This is because users with photosensitive seizure disorders can face issues.

6. Audit Your Website Periodically

In the spirit of continuous improvement, it’s a good idea to conduct an audit of your website every few months. 

Many companies do not have time to regularly audit their websites because they're too busy running their business. However, this is a mistake because it can lead to larger problems down the road if something goes wrong. 

If you want to make sure that your website is ADA compliant and ready for any future updates or changes, then you need to audit it on a regular basis — even if there are no visible problems at the moment. You should do this at least once every three months; however, more frequent audits may be necessary depending on how often you update your site or how complex it is.

This allows you to identify any issues and fix them before they become a problem. You also need to keep up with the latest technology trends and know what new features are coming down the pipeline.

Bonus tip: Use accessiBe to improve your website’s WCAG & ADA compliance

From Oreo to Philips to NBC, big and smaller companies around the world are raving about accessiBe and its benefits for their businesses.

accessiBe empowers businesses of all sizes to take the inclusive approach and comply with ADA & WCAG. It helps in promoting -

  • Inclusivity for everyone
  • Attract new customers
  • Comply with legislation

Today, accessiBe powers over 154,633  websites worldwide!

You can check it out here. 

Conclusion

Remember, your site is not just for you; it is for your customers. So, make it as easy to use as possible. 

As a whole, web accessibility is highly underutilized by the eCommerce world even today. It can be challenging to merge it well with eCommerce UI, but the rewards can be well worth it if you do. 

If you feel that your eCommerce website isn't as ADA compliant as it could be, we hope the points mentioned in this guide will help you. Take the time now to make your eCommerce site ADA compliant, and you'll thank yourself later!

You can also reach out to us to help you build a better and ADA-compliant website.

We help you bring your ideas to life with Shopify web design, development, marketing, and support services from experts. Our team of Shopify experts works with Shopify merchants like you to design the store that reflects the personality of your brand and caters to the functionalities you require. Whether you want to revamp your existing design or build a new one from scratch, we will help you create a positive shopping experience on your Shopify store design. 

Reach out to us at info@xgentech.net and we’ll help you build an ADA-Compliant eCommerce website!