What is ADA Compliance?

An online store is ADA compliant if it meets certain criteria laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specifically in regards to new amendments created in 2010 called the “ADA Standards for Accessible Design.” By making your online store compliant with ADA standards, you make your site accessible for people with disabilities by ensuring accessibility elements (like alt text or zoom feature) are integrated and working properly.

Why should your site be ADA compliant?

All strong websites are built with accessibility in mind. For online stores, accessibility ensures all customers can use your online store, including customers with visual disabilities (like partial or full blindness), hearing impairment, or mental disabilities like dyslexia. It’s always in your best interest and the best interests of your customers to ensure access to your website is simple for anyone, both in terms of social responsibility and the health of your business.

Accessibility is also important for ADA compliance, without which your business may open itself up to lawsuits or fines. By investing money to make sure you’re following these regulations, you can also claim tax credits.

How do you make your site ADA compliant?

There are plenty of areas for improvement for websites to reach ADA compliance. In broad strokes, it’s important to keep perspective and try to see shopping on your website from the perspective of a potential disabled customer.

More concrete tips include the following:

  • Follow proper naming conventions and make sure your headlines, titles, and copy are clear and easy to follow.
  • Make sure to include alt text for all of your page elements (like images and call-outs). Alt text is crucial visually-impaired customers who use screen readers.
  • For hearing-impaired shoppers, include captions on any video or audio elements.
  • Keep your navigation consistent and intuitive. You’ll also need to make sure that all actions a user can take on your site can be done from a keyboard.
  • Make sure any actions you want your shopper to take include clear instructions.
  • Include a final confirmation action before a shopper submits an order. That way, customers will have a chance to review everything before they make a purchase.
  • Write very specific error messages so it’s clear how customers can fix a problem.
  • Ensure text elements are structured correctly. Tables should have appropriate headers, for example. Page headers should be marked with header tagging in the HTML.
  • Create a page dedicated to guiding customers through the accessibility features you’ve built into your online store.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve done enough for compliance, hire a disability testing group or an accessibility consultant to help you out. You can also use websites like PowerMapper and AChecker to run their own accessibility scans.

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