At Lform we firmly believe in an open and inclusive internet for every type of user, which is why we not only build clean, easily navigable websites, we build ADA compliant websites that are accessible to everyone. Oftentimes the assumption is made that all users perceive and interact with the world in the same way that we might. This can restrict your content’s reach and can even send an ableist message about your company. One of our top priorities is to ensure that your website or application is usable to everyone through a wide range of accessibility tools. The first step is understanding the broad range of people navigating to your website and what it means to cater to them all.
What is an ADA Compliant Website?
This is a website that adheres to the stipulations outlined in the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. ADA compliant websites take a series of deliberate actions to make sure that users with a wide spectrum of visual, auditory, and cognitive conditions can still access their content and that it isn’t limited to neurotypical users. Our development professionals integrate distinct accessibility measures into our websites for every type of user. However, ADA web compliance not only expands your content’s reach, presenting your website’s information in diverse ways makes it more accessible to all users regardless of situational challenges or assistive technology.
Visually Accessible Web Design
Writing vivid “alternative text” is an essential step to our web design process. These visually descriptive blocks of text help blind and visually impaired users paint a mental picture in place of images which they cannot see or can only see partially. Screen readers pick up the text and convert it into audio output, describing the image to users who cannot visually perceive it. Images can even be translated into braille for those who prefer to use this tactile language over auditory conversion. Alt text has benefits for sighted users as well. When an image is broken or cannot be loaded, it provides the missing context.
Additionally, we keep visual impairments top of mind when choosing all your website’s colors and text sizes. Small amendments such as increasing the contrast between the background of a page and the text color can make a huge difference to someone even without any visual impairments. While contrast and color are vital accessibility features for users with visual impairments, unimpaired users benefit as well because the interface of the website will be easier to navigate. Further, websites that are not optimized for color blindness run the risk of alienating users. Ignoring this subset of the population could result in blocks of text becoming barely legible or images to be unrecognizable. Colorblindness is not simply a hurdle that can get in a user’s way when attempting to navigate a webpage, it can stop them from being able to access and use a website or app entirely. In effect, if a website is not properly optimized for color accessibility, a colorblind user may not be able to find a button because it is invisible to them.
Auditory Accessible Backend Development
Providing an alternative to sound is paramount in the context of videos. When embedding videos onto your website, we prioritize video services such as YouTube or Vimeo that enable ADA web compliance. These sites allow you to pair videos with subtitles so that users with hearing impairments can still experience the content you worked so hard to produce. Subtitles can be situationally beneficial to typical users as well, allowing users to watch at low or no volume or understand dialogue that may be muddled or otherwise imperceptible.
Website Design Optimizations for Cognitive Accessibility
Cognitive impairments include ADD, Dyslexia, and Dyscalculia. Optimizations for these conditions have some overlap with those for visual conditions as some people experiencing them might zoom in on their screens to focus or read better. We construct ADA compliant websites that decrease cognitive workload by displaying information in a well-organized, easily digestible format. Color-coding sets of numbers such as tables or graphs on your website to group them into different categories, increasing spacing and enlarging font sizes aids users with Dyscalculia. People with Dyscalculia have difficulties comprehending and manipulating numbers as well as performing mathematical calculations. The benefits of laying out your website this way are not restricted to the cognitively impaired; decreasing cognitive workload creates a more pleasant experience for all of your users, making them more likely to return to your website and trust your brand.
Web Interfaces Built with Dexterity Challenges in Mind
We also take motor impairments into consideration by constructing websites that can be easily navigated by people who have arthritis, repetitive strain injuries, or who are physically paralyzed and have a limited range of motion. Users within this category may use keyboards, switch devices, voice control or even an eye-tracking device to operate their computers. Many websites don’t take into account that some of their users cannot use a mouse or trackpad and instead use keyboard navigation to explore web pages. Anyone who’s tried to “tab” through a website only to be confronted with an unresponsive page can relate to this feeling of frustration. When a website isn’t built for accessibility for all types of users, those who cannot successfully interact with it will abandon it for one that allows them to navigate it with ease. Thus, building out your site for all kinds of users will help you retain leads and establish trust between your company and your target audience.
Disability-Inspired Innovations are Often Adopted by the Mainstream
Many inventions in assistive technology end up being adopted by the masses because of their convenience in certain situations. A prime example can be found in SMS text messaging. Originally built for the hearing impaired as a text-based alternative to phone calls, the general public quickly discovered how easy it was to send a text message instead of making a phone call, opening up a whole new door for communication. When you think about this wildly popular innovation, it becomes obvious that designing products solely for those who have perfect vision, hearing, dexterity and cognition can be self-defeating. By striving for ADA compliance while creating web sites and applications we cultivate a less stressful, more user-friendly experience for all.
SEO Benefits of ADA Accessibility
Put simply, Google loves accessible websites and rewards them with higher SEO rankings. Our designers recognize the symbiotic relationship between SEO and accessibility and use it to help our clients’ websites soar in Google’s page rank. The positive results of adding ADA accessibility functions to your website extend beyond widening your audience and reducing bounce rate; you can also increase your SEO ranking by giving yourself more opportunities to include salient keywords in your content. Google’s AI’s crawl every inch of your website including alternative text, subtitles, transcripts and plain text descriptions. At Lform, our expert SEO strategists and web designers accurately describe your images through alt text and metadata. If a keyword is part of that description we make sure to incorporate it into the text to boost your SEO rating. However, we never use “black hat” SEO practices such as stuffing keywords into alt text and metadata just because these sections are hidden from most users. This practice negates the entire purpose of accessibility functions and instead confuses impaired users by simply overloading them with a list of keywords instead of providing descriptions of the images.
Accessibility Aware Semantic Coding That Meet WCAG Standards
We write semantic HTML that can be understood by browsers and assistive technologies alike. Our programmers strive to use the most accurate tags as possible when marking up your content so that your site can be interpreted easily by all users. In situations where semantics aren’t enough, we have the expertise to incorporate appropriate WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes where necessary.