In recent years, websites have been treated by the United States legal system as “places of public accommodation” as defined under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.)
This means that website owners are now legally required to make their websites accessible to users with disabilities.
Websites which fail ADA compliance could be subject to lawsuits which often result in hefty settlements averaging anywhere from $10,000 – $50,000.
What’s more, Google and other search giants have shown that their algorithms also have an eye for ADA compliance, factoring aspects of ADA compliance into their ranking algorithm.
The last thing anyone wants is to watch their search rankings drop just before getting slammed with a lawsuit.
That’s why we offer our premium ADA Compliance service.
Our experts will perform a full ADA compliance audit of your website and offer you a complete strategy for bringing your website into compliance before any issues arise.
How To Make Your Website ADA Compliant
Because websites are treated as places of public accommodation, the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that websites take special steps to make their content accessible to users with disabilities.
While the exact extent of what this means continues to be argued and interpreted in court, the Department of Justice and various US Courts have consistently referred to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) published by WC3 as a gold standard for accessibility.
WCAG sets many standards and while not all of them are necessary to maintain ADA compliance, they represent a set of best practices to be strived for.
Some of the most important steps include:
- Ensuring images, forms, and visual elements include alt tags and description text to be read by screen readers and other devices for visually impaired users
- Make your website entirely usable by keyboard only for users who cannot use a mouse
- Ensure the website is clear and descriptive with descriptive link text, accurate titles, proper headings
- Eliminate or minimize any flashing elements or other practices known to potentially induce seizures
The Intersections of ADA Compliance and SEO
Take this quote from the WCAG, the standards referenced by the Department of Justice for online ADA compliance:
“Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.”
Anyone familiar with SEO could tell you immediately that one of the most important things for SEO is making pages “machine readable.”
In many ways, the web crawlers used by Google and other search giants to index the web are similar to screen reader software, braille readers, and other assisted reading software which disabled users rely on to interact with the internet.
Part of any optimization campaign is adding plentiful and descriptive alt text and metadata across your website.
Done properly, this process can not only optimize your site for search engines but also make it an accessible place for disabled users and bring the site into ADA compliance.
This guideline isn’t the only part of the WCAG standards which ties in heavily with SEO.
Is Google Looking For ADA Compliance?
In a word, yes.
As many of the aspects of SEO tie in with ADA compliance in an important way, you could say that Google and other search engines have been looking for many aspects of ADA compliance from day one.
However, with the number of ADA compliance lawsuits filed against websites growing every year and awareness of the necessity of making the web more accessible for disabled users, search engines are now using accessibility standards as major ranking factors.
Search engines want to provide their users with information which is useful to them.
If a user — disabled or not — finds a webpage through a search engine which they cannot effectively read, navigate, or interact with, that is a negative experience.
As a result, pages with poor accessibility can be excluded entirely from the search results, regardless of the strength of their content or what optimization efforts were applied.
We Can Help Make Your Site ADA Compliant
Wondering if your website is ADA compliant or what you need to do to bring it into compliance?
We’d love to help you build a strategy which brings your site into ADA compliance — and maybe even boosts your SEO along the way.
Combined with one of our SEO audits and some keyword research, we can create an actionable plan which makes your website more readable for disabled users and search engines alike.
Whether you think your site is nearly ADA compliant and just want a second opinion, or you’re certain that there is a mess to be cleaned up, we’d be excited to hear from you.
Get in touch today and we’ll devise a plan for how we can best put our skills to work for you!