Let’s discuss ADA compliant websites. By now, most boat dealership owners understand that having a website is a necessity to compete in today’s market. More people are shopping online than ever before. It’s important to ensure your website is responsive, easy to use, and informative. Did you know that your website may not be accessible to everyone? Let’s dive into what that means.
In the United States, an estimated 1 in 4 US adults live with a disability (source: CDC.gov). Those people need equal access to view information on the web, including your website content. Take steps to ensure that those with varying disabilities can access your content easily. We call this “ADA website compliance.”
As a digital agency that focuses on providing inclusive web design, we provide information needed to understand ADA website compliance. We also explain how it affects your boating business.
What is ADA Website Compliance?
ADA stands for the American Disabilities Act. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. This includes all places that are open to the general public, like jobs, schools, and transportation. It also includes websites as many people rely on the web to accomplish daily tasks.
ADA website compliance follows set of guidelines to allow accessibility for all. This includes anyone who might find it difficult to browse the internet due to an impairing disability, such as blindness or hand mobility issues.
If someone is visually impaired and would like to browse your inventory pages, the images should have alt tags describing them. An alt tag tells a person’s screen reader what the image is about, thus communicating vital information.
Your website should be designed and developed so that it’s possible for impaired people to navigate with special tools and software. This includes adding alt tags to images, and having color contrasts so that those who are color blind or partially color blind can see them. All these guidelines are provided by W3C.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (W3C)
The World Wide Web Consortium developed a set of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
These are a wide variety of standards and recommendations that will make your website accessible to a wide range of people with disabilities. Disabilities include: blindness, low vision, deafness, hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, etc.
There are three levels of accessibility:
A = below acceptable
AA = standard
AAA = exceptional
Ideally, your boating website should at least follow the standard level (AA). This can be challenging, since the guidelines will change and evolve as technology does.
How to Test Your Website for ADA Website Compliance
Plugins and scanning tools are available to determine your website’s accessibility. However, those are known to only catch around 20-30% of the standards you need to meet. We highly recommend working with a professional web agency that can help you meet those standards, and also help you maintain them.
If you want to verify that your website is ADA compliant, a combination of manual and automated testing is the best choice. The W3C provides a list of tools on their website that help evaluate the accessibility of a site. Here are some of the components you should check based on four main categories:
- Images should use alt text to have a textual counterpart to describe the content
- Video and audio should have captions and transcripts
- Any visually presented information should be available through text for the users
- Color shouldn’t be your only mean to convey information or prompt a user
- Users should be able to navigate your boating website using a keyword, without getting stuck on any individual components
- Users should have enough time to read your content if it moves, blinks, or automatically updates
- All pages should have informative titles, headings and labels that properly describe the page’s content and hierarchy
- Your website should operate in a way that is familiar and predictable. Navigation and labeling should remain consistent between different pages.
- When users are entering input into the website, any input errors are automatically detected and provided text descriptions
- Build your website to be as compatible as possible with assistive technologies such as screen readers.
Why ADA Website Compliance is Important for Your Boating Business
As a business, you are missing out on many opportunities if your website does not offer accessibility for all.
Another reason is the potential for lawsuits. A study from UseableNet broke down some of the numbers of all the federally filed ADA web-accessibility related lawsuits. Here are some of the stats:
- From 2017 to 2018, lawsuits increased from 814 to 2,285 cases overall.
- In 2019, 55% of these cases were settled in 60 days as companies decide it is most cost-effective to pay the settlement than to take the case to litigation.
These lawsuits are starting to affect business in the marine industry. For example, several boat dealers participated in the NY Jacob Javits Center Boat Show. They went to court for not having ADA compliant websites last year. Similar cases seem to be on the rise.
ADA Website Compliance for Boat Dealerships
ADA compliance should be a top priority when updating your boating web design. We understand that it is not an easy task and we are here to help. We have the knowledge and the tool to make and maintain your website ADA compliant. Contact us here to find out how we can help you.