Why Is ADA Compliance Important For Law Firm Websites?

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ADA compliance is a very crucial part of modern website development. It helps increase the level of accessibility for everyone. But there are a lot of rules and regulations regarding ADA compliance. And for a law firm which wants to be available and accessible for clients of all sorts and any capacity, an ADA compliant website is a must.

ADA compliance is a headache for most businesses and websites. There are too many rules, and too many aspects of ADA compliance to think about. That’s why we are here to explain what ADA compliance is and how we can help you implement it.

What Is ADA Compliance?

ADA stands for Americans with Disabilities ACT. It has been in effect since 1990, and it spans across nearly every field of business. ADA standardization helps ensure fair treatment for people with disabilities. 

The ADA sectors are divided into 5 titles. The first one is employment, followed by state and local government, public accommodation, Telecommunication, and miscellaneous Provisions. There’s a similar version of this mandate called the 508 compliances, which only applies to things under federal jurisdiction. 

Sadly, ADA does not provide a clear set of guidelines for websites. So, most developers need to rely on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG. It is a collection of regulations, developed to improve accessibility.

ADA is also very strict about alternate access. It needs to be “reasonable” enough so that the majority of disabled people can get access to mainstream information and services. ADA accessibility companies are professionals handling website accessibility.

 

Do Websites Need To Follow ADA Requirements?

In short, ADA compliance is a civil mandate that protects equal rights for disabled folks. It was originally limited to physical commodities, but that changed with the advent of the information age. Online information became increasingly more significant, so now the ADA requirements apply to that as well.

Title III of the ADA compliance mandate applies to websites with public access. Hence those websites can not contain barriers that block disabled people in any way. That is why accessible website development is so crucial these days. Some professionals work tirelessly to implement these progressive changes.

However, the internet is a vast collection of websites. So, it is physically impossible to monitor every one of them for ADA compliance. But most service websites, business websites, or publishing websites need to abide by the law. Because any disabled person can file a complaint against public websites if it fails to provide the “reasonable” alternate access. 

Benefits Of Having ADA Compliant Website For Laws Firms 

As a law firm, your focus is definitely to be accessible to as large of a demographic as possible. Everyone requires the help of lawyers. Even people with mental, visual and other sorts of disabilities. 

In this age of the internet, people will prefer to look up and learn about your law firm on the internet before actually walking into your office. And a lot of those people are bound to have some sort of disability. 

As we’ve already discussed, ADA compliance allows websites to be understandable and usable to people with various forms of disabilities. So, as a law firm it is in your best interest to develop a website that meets the ADA requirements. 

It will allow your clients to understand the services you provide and determine whether you can help them with their legal issues. It also allows you the opportunity to convince this aspect of your client base about your abilities and land leads. 

ADA compliance is also excellent for SEO as well. Search engines prefer to put ADA compliant websites on top as they increase user retention. So, this is a great opportunity for you to be ahead of your competition in the online space and reach your customers before they do. 

 

How To Check A Website’s ADA Compliance?

There are web accessibility audits to check the ADA standard of a website. These audits evaluate the level of accessibility of the services of a website. People are getting more serious about the ADA law, because of the increasing trend of ADA non-compliance charges. The legal problems of failing to comply with the ADA law are very severe.

The web accessibility audit is the easiest way to check if a website meets the ADA, WCAG standards. That will significantly lower future non-compliance lawsuits. There are mainly two options for checking it properly. 

One can either get professional help– where experts will use various means to check the website for accessibility level. The other is doing it with online tools.

 

How To Make Your Website ADA Compliant?

ADA compliance is mostly a structural change. Other than that, the website only needs a few system enhancements to include assistive tools.

Start by keeping the following guidelines in mind:

 

Content Structure

This applies to the written content of the website. The written content must have alternate access options for people with visual impairment. All the following content needs to have consistent headings, tags and these identifiers need to follow a logical hierarchy. 

That will help readers navigate through the information easily. Shorter sentences and appropriate punctuation marks will make it more accessible to people with lower reading abilities.

Using descriptive links will help readers understand what the hyperlink represents. You must also ensure that all the links you provide are accessible. You would also want to include keyboard navigation. 

 

Media Files

Media files are one of the most crucial parts of making a website more accessible. Video and audio files are alternate accessibility for visually impaired individuals. But it works the other way around for people with hearing problems. 

You can circumvent the issue by adding subtitles for the video files. Audio files can have descriptive written versions. Image files need to have alt text too. Still, subtitles are the most crucial part. You can also provide multiple language subs to reach more people.

 

Color Scheme

Colorblindness is a fairly common issue. So, using color to describe a theme is not enough. Instead, associate it with patterns and icons to convey a clearer picture. That will make your content more impactful.

Color contrast is also crucial for text-based content. Inappropriate color contrast will make texts harder to read. The WCAG compliance has a set contrast ratio for such content.

 

What Is The Optimal ADA Compliance Level?

ADA and WCAG compliance is divided into three levels. Each level increase represents a higher-tier accessibility standard. The levels also offer more leeway to websites. Understandably, small business websites can make do with a lower compliance standard than a government information website. 

The three levels are A, AA, and AAA. In most cases, an AA rating is enough for regular websites. Only the highly necessary websites need to provide AAA-level compliance. However, it’s best to not stay in the A zone. Level A has too many loopholes. While it may seem compliant enough, many disabled people cannot access the website that way. Which can lead to lengthy lawsuits.

The level AA is a lot stricter about the accessibility requirements. It pays close attention to color contrast, so it ends up covering most vision disability effects. Level A is a low lax in this regard, so it becomes a trap. There are too many people with vision disabilities. So it is necessary to at least set the standard to the AA range for a valid web accessibility remediation.

The AAA level is far and above the other two levels. It is so strict that it is hard to apply it throughout the entire website. So, most websites only apply the AAA standard partially. The partial implementation generally involves particularly crucial content.

 

Features Of An ADA Compliant Website For A Law Firm

ADA compliant websites naturally need to have some qualities that set them apart from the rest. You can easily tell if a website is ADA compliant or not by checking if the website is:

 

Understandable

The website needs to have a comprehensibility level that suits everyone. The text needs to be simple enough for everyone. That does not mean the complete exclusion of high-tier content. 

Definition identification tools can help a website meet this criterion. These things can provide abbreviations of certain texts, or definitions of uncommon words.

The understanding is affected by the language barrier too. So, having multiple translations is necessary if a website is trying to reach out to a larger audience. This also affects regional diversity. So, they expect region-appropriate translation. 

 

Robust

This quality is primarily a structural requirement. The website needs to have enough flexibility to change with the latest technology. The system needs to incorporate any assistive technology change that becomes mainstream. Things like face IDs, fingerprint scanners are good examples. 

The content also needs to have cross-platform adaptability. However, the main aspect of “Robust” is still the assistive technology support. 

Perceivable

All the content needs have an alternate form of intelligibility. That means the inclusion of audio support, pre-recorded audio, and other alternatives to reading. Likewise, visual content instead of text is another option. That can help people with reading disorders like Dyslexia.

Multiple sensory alternatives to conventional content is the perfect example of this. It’s very hard to include this feature without the help of a web accessibility company.

Operable

This quality caters to people with motor disabilities. Individuals with a motor disability cannot use keyboard-mouse coordination. That makes it exceedingly hard for them to navigate. So, having keyboard-only navigation commands are very helpful for them. Ease of operation can significantly improve a website’s accessibility rating.

 

How Can We Help?

We at ADA for Web can help you set up and maintain the desired level of ADA compliance for your law firm website. Normally, you would need to check your website from time to time to stay updated with the compliance requirement revisions. The requirements for ADA compliance changes often, so it becomes necessary to do that. But, layers already have a lot on their plate. So, it is better to avoid taking on this responsibility. 

As an ADA compliance company, we can take away that hassle from your shoulder. Making your website ADA compliant will help it become more responsive, and enhance your interaction with your visitors. This way you can focus on handling your clients while we constantly update your website to new and upcoming ADA requirements. 

 

Conclusion

We believe that was enough to convey the importance of ADA for websites for law firms. It is a government mandate that helps disabled people access previously inaccessible content. Do not think of ADA compliance as a chore, rather think of it as a potential opportunity to reach a wider demographic. 

Contact us to learn more on how we can make your website ADA compliant. We are sincerely waiting to hear from you. 

Working on a website can be difficult. Adding new media and updating pages is chore, even though you know your company website needs to evolve and become more accessible to the many users you are trying to reach. Maybe when you first built it, accessibility wasn’t even really discussed. But now you’ve taken a step back, looked at your customer base with a desire to include everyone and you’ve realized just how important it is to make your site accessible. However, the thought of building a robust site that can do all the things you want it to do is overwhelming.

What is Web Accessibility

A practice of designing and coding the website in order to provide complete compatibility in accessing it by people with disabilities. In addition, it is a way to improve search engine optimization only an ADA Compliant Web Designer will help you to make your website Compliant. Is your website compatible? By going through the checklist below, you can get the answer.

Assessing Current Web Pages and Content

  • The website must include a feature like a navigation link at the top of the page. These links have a bypass mechanism such as a “skip navigation” link. This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the web page content. It is beneficial for people who use screen readers to avoid to listen to all the links each time they jump to a new page.
  • All the links should be understandable when taken out of the context. For example, images without alternative text and links without worded as “click here”.
  • All the graphics, maps, images, and other non-text content must provide text alternatives through the alt attribute, a hidden/visible long description.
  • All the documents posted on the website should available in HTML or another accessible text-based format. It is also applicable to other formats like Portable Document Format (PDF).
  • The online forms on the website should be structured so assistive technology can identify, describe and operate the controls and inputs. By doing this, people with disabilities can review and submit the forms.
  • If the website has online forms, the drop-down list should describe the information instead of displaying a response option. For instance, “Your Age” instead of “18-25”.
  • If the website has data charts and tables, they should be structured so that all data cells are associated with column and row identifiers.
  • All the video files on the website must have audio descriptions (if necessary). This is for the convenience of blind people or for having a visual impairment disability.
  • All the video files on the website must have synchronized captions. People with hearing problems or deaf can access these files conveniently.
  • All the audio files on the website should have synchronized captions to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • All web pages should be designed so that they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings for color and font.

About Website Accessibility Policy and Procedures

  • One must have a written policy on website accessibility.
  • The website accessibility policy must be posted on the website at a location where it can be easily found.
  • The procedure should be developed to ensure that content is not added to the website until it has been made accessible.
  • It should be confirmed that the website manager has checked the code and structure of all new web pages before they are posted.
  • While adding the PDFs to the website, these should be accessible. Also, the text-based versions of the documents should be accessible at the same time as PDF versions.
  • Make sure that the in-house and contractor staff has received the information about the website accessibility policy and procedure to confirm the website accessibility.
  • It should be confirmed that in-house and contractor staff has received appropriate training on how to ensure the accessibility of the website.
  • The website should have a specific written plan if it contains inaccessible content. Also, it should include timeframes in place to make all of the existing web content accessible.
  • A complete plan to improve website accessibility should be posted along with invited suggestions for improvement.
  • The homepage should include easily locatable information that includes contact details like telephone number and email address. This is useful for reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessibility services with information.
  • A website should have procedures in place to assure a quick response to the visitors with disabilities who have difficulty in accessing information or services available on the website.
  • Feedback from people who use a variety of assistive technologies is helpful in ensuring website accessibility. So make sure to ask disability groups representing people to provide feedback on the accessibility of your website.
  • Testing the website using a product available on the internet is helpful, These tools are of free cost and check the accessibility of a website. They may not identify all accessibility issues and flag issues that are not accessibility problems. However, these are, nonetheless, a helpful way to improve website accessibility.

Checklist of Action Items for Improving the Accessibility of a Website

In addition, while considering the above suggestions, the following checklist initially prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal Agencies provides further guidelines on ways to make websites more accessible for persons with disabilities.

This practical advice, as well as another checklist, are available at:

Satisfying all of these items does not necessarily mean that a website complies with ADA, but it will improve the website’s accessibility and decrease the risk of litigation. Again, an Expert or Web Accessibility Consulting & Services provider should be engaged to conduct a comprehensive review of your website.
Nothing brings you closer to reality than actually facing it. This is the premise of my latest attempt to spread awareness about Web Accessibility.
For better understand, here is a link in which a practical example is shown to make the websites’ user experience better by following the guidelines. Also, it tells the issues affecting various users on the internet with solutions.
You can make your website ADA compliant in an easy way by consulting the professionals, who can do this job effortlessly. Also, you can get a quick website audit from To Be ADA Compliant that offers complete web accessibility consulting & services in California, USA.

Resource: https://dev.to/chinchang/an-interactive-and-practical-introduction-to-web-accessibility-22o1